R.I.P. Diona Johnson / Di Jay / AfroGeode

Diona Johnson, leader of the Duluth band AfroGeode and the Gemstones, died on Monday at age 35. The Duluth News Tribune reports that the cause of the sudden death remains unknown pending the results of an autopsy.

Statement from Duluth Branch NAACP:

We all know those people whose presence lights up a room and invigorates everyone in it; those people who exude joy, strength, and beauty in everything they say, in everything they do; those people whose creative expression is poignant and captivating. Diona Johnson (Di Jay) was one of those people.

This week, the Duluth community, Minnesota, and the world lost a beautiful and powerful voice. Di was a fierce advocate for social justice, supporting the Duluth NAACP and BIPOC communities throughout the region with her words, her professional work, her music, and her advocacy. Her band, Afrogeode and the Gemstones moved audiences with their soulful, funky, and genre-blending sound and always compelled people to consider what they can do to promote justice in their own communities.

There truly aren’t words to express the sadness we feel amidst Di’s passing, nor the impact this loss has on our community. Di was one of a kind and she is immensely missed. We ask everyone to support the people around you who are directly impacted by her passing, and do what you can to continue uplifting black voices in our community. Di may be gone but her bright, passionate, and beautiful spirit lives on.

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