Lova Patterson grew up on “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Since then, Eckerd College’s director of campus activities has had an itch for performing that’s begged to be scratched. The release of her band Divine AF’s first EP, “This Side of Desire,” is only the latest expression of a lifelong love of collaborative art.
The band began a few years go as a duo made up of Katherine Derr and Claire Franklin, who now respectively provide vocals and drums for the group. The two, who knew and worked with Patterson for many years before the band’s formation, invited her to play a few shows with them. Divine AF grew from there, featuring a rotating handful of musicians from the Tampa Bay area. Eventually, the band solidified into a core group of regulars, and the Divine AF of today was born.
According to Patterson, Divine AF quickly built up a repertoire of original songs and could hardly wait to get into the studio. It was the discovery of their bassist and seventh member, Seanna Makepeace, that sealed the deal.
“We call her Lucky Number Seven,” Patterson said. “When Seanna came in, we felt like the band was complete.”
Their music’s dynamic, meandering structure, combined with their three lead singers’ powerful, expressive voices and tight harmonies, have earned them the label “prog-wop” — a combination of progressive rock and doo-wop.
Their stylistic influences range from blues to heavy metal to artpop, and the makeup of their band is just as diverse. Though the band is composed entirely of women, all of those women identify with different parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They also span five generations, with members’ ages ranging from 20s to 60s.
“We all have very different experiences,” Patterson said. “I really think that that’s what it’s about for us, is to share music and that overwhelming love of music and love for one another.”
Though Patterson wants to make it clear that she and the rest of the band’s LGBTQ+ identities aren’t a platform, she does feel that it’s another important part of connecting with their audience.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we represent the lesbian and transgender communities,” she said. “We’re very open and proud of who we are, and we want other people to understand that and know that.”
That openness and pride has given them an exciting opportunity. They’ve been contacted by representatives of the feminist band Betty, who performed the opening theme to the lesbian cult hit “The L Word,” and were asked to open for them at World Pride in New York City. Following a sold-out EP release party in December, they were placed on an official Spotify Top 10 New Artists playlist, and they are currently one of the top 40 bands in the country on ReverbNation.
Patterson is optimistic about their future. Having been in dozens of bands, she’s also been through quite a few band breakups, but even if Divine AF does eventually part ways, she can’t see them losing the relationship they’ve built.
“I firmly believe we will always play music together,” she said. “I don’t want the creative connection to end. If we love what we’re doing, we’re gonna keep doing it.”