Buckle Down: Onwusa is the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant father and a Louisiana-born mother who has owned both a beauty salon and a florist shop. With their encouragement, she became the first person in the family to attend college, and later earned a master’s degree in leadership studies. “They taught me that anything is possible — in working hard, in believing in yourself, in having faith and being prayerful.”
Day Job: Onwusa’s primary focus at the Rock Hall is planning, researching and acquiring artifacts for major exhibits, such as the new Play It Loud exhibit co-organized with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But she also has to pivot quickly to focus on of-the-moment tributes and displays, such as when Hall of Fame inductees come into town. “There is no such thing as a normal day. It gets crazy.”
Foster Youth: As the Grammy Museum’s education coordinator, she created a curriculum for the museum’s music education programs in which students such as Billie Eilish, now a genre-bending electropop superstar, were enrolled. “You never know those seeds that you plant in the youth. The education, the exhibits, the programming — all of those things can inspire someone, and you never know what that can do.”
Ride It Out: Onwusa worked with Sixth City Cycles in Old Brooklyn to turn a trashed bicycle into the treasured custom ride she now calls Purple Rayne in honor of Prince. The bike shop, located inside local cafe Coffee Coffee Coffee, was one of the first places that she fell in love with in Cleveland. “That place is so LA. It’s somehow such a Cali thing.”
Hot Stuff: In October, Onwusa worked with 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Donna Summer’s estate to bring in items ahead of her family’s visit to the museum, including a dress designed and sewn by Summer herself for the cover of her 1976 LP Four Seasons of Love. “We wanted to show something unique and rare from her collection.”
Onwusa’s most prized possession is a necklace she got on a trip to Brazil with the Lord’s Prayer written on it in Portuguese. She’s never taken it off.
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