Renee Ananda and Aim Me Smiley make up the Troubadours of Divine Bliss | Courtesy of the Troubadours
Renee Ananda and Aim Me Smiley make up the Troubadours of Divine Bliss | Courtesy of the Troubadours

The Troubadours of Divine Bliss have been spreading musical love, compassion and kindness for 20 years now, and anyone who has seen the duo perform know just how contagious their spirit can be. Partners Aim Me Smiley and Renee Ananda formed the band shortly after they began dating, and they’ve enjoyed playing for audiences across the world, spreading their vibes of positivity and peace.

Nine years ago they created a festival that would reflect their mantra, and the Mighty Kindness Hoot has been growing ever since. This year’s event will be held once again at Waterfront Park’s Brown-Forman Amphitheater on Saturday, June 11, from noon-7 p.m., and includes a hodgepodge community groups, local artists, farmers, purveyors of alternative energy and medicine, healers, belly dance, children’s activities, aerial artists and circus performers, local food vendors, live music, free classes and workshops (including “Political Engagement” with Sellus Wilder and Attica Scott), a Massage-a-Thon, Movement Circle, more than 150 booths and much more.

2016-HOOT-POSTERreduced-x650xAim Me and Renee (they insist on first names) tell Insider they came up with the idea of Mighty Kindness while standing on a corner on Bardstown Road every week protesting the Iraq War. They decided their energy could be better spent fighting for something rather than against something.

“Mighty Kindness was founded to strengthen, highlight and unify what was already good and kind in our region,” say the Troubadours. “We sought to include organizations, artists and businesses from all aspects of society that operate with an honorable, innovative, sustainable and compassionate model. We started affecting what we could right here in our community by strengthening the positive right around us. We realized this was the most effective action we could take.”

Mighty Kindness grew from 30 booths and 300 people that first year to more than 150 booths and 5,000 people now, primarily by word of mouth and local sponsors. While they can’t narrow down one thing they’re looking forward to the most at next weekend’s Hoot — it would be too hard to choose between the solar-powered Sun Stage and local beer by Apocalypse Brew Works — they say they’re anticipating the energy it’ll bring to the city the most.

“I guess what we really most look forward to is seeing everyone smiling and hugging and dancing and feeling that possibility that we can create the community we want to live in and raise the next generation of dreamers.”

Before the first tent goes up or incense stick is lit, the Troubadours answered seven very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

Renee: To go on an archeological dig and discover a mystical manuscript.

Aim Me: Set up a shelter and school in Africa.

Grant v. Jackson
Grant vs. Jackson

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

Renee: Shawn Cassidy and an assortment of other Teen Beat heartthrobs encircling Amy Grant’s first album cover.

Aim Me: Michael Jackson in his Thriller era with the white shirt and yellow sweater vest — perfect height on the wall to kiss. (OK, TMI.)

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

Renee: I would have many keys made and pass them out every time I encountered someone who has impacted the community in positive, motivational and inspiring ways … I’m talking about the schemers and dreamers who envision a better way of our community being together spiritually, environmentally and socially.

Aim Me: Well, if I was mayor, I would have a whole bag of keys and give one out every day to a different person in the city doing the unknown, hard work of change and transformation. There are so many unsung heroes just helping from the their hearts to make our community more kind. People like Mark Steiner, Valerie Magnuson, Attica Scott, Nancy Bohannon, Katy Garrison, Natalie Reteneller, CPHR DVN — all of whom will be contributing to the Mighty Kindness Hoot. There are too many folks to mention, so I would have a lot of keys.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Renee & Aim Me: Spinach and ricotta (local and organic, of course).

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

Renee: At 4 1/2 years old, I ran away from kindergarten. It was winter and I got about a mile down the road before a friend of Mom and Dad’s spotted me as I was headed for the expressway ramp. She picked me up and took me home. In a perfect and safe world, I would like to return to that moment and spend a week finding out where my wonder was taking me. I love the fearlessness, fascination and sense of adventure of that age.

Aim Me: 5 — 5 is so magical. You are so open in heart and mind and so curious and playful. My favorite age is now … still so open, but the heart and mind can hold so much more.

Carmen Electra's mother dog
Carmen Electra’s mother dog

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Renee: My favorite remark ever was at Thornton’s in downtown Louisville. I was squeegeeing my window when a guy approached me and said, “You favor Carmen Electra like a mother dog.”

Aim Me: Judy Garland and that lady from “Star Trek.”

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Renee: Laurie Anderson! She has remained fascinated and fascinating. I imagine she could reveal to me every aspect of that elevator in the most magical and microscopic ways that I would forget about my claustrophobia and start making origami out of the elevator certificate whilst telling each other captivating stories and making the best elevator music ever!

Barbara Marx Hubbard
Barbara Marx Hubbard

Aim Me: Wow … it’s hard to choose just one. My choice for this moment is Barbara Marx Hubbard. She is a woman who has stayed fascinated her whole life and worked for the greater good of humanity. Her Wheel of Co-Creation is similar to the goal of Mighty Kindness — strengthening the best, kindest ideas to move humanity to a whole new level of living in peace and creative vitality.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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