Faces of Duluth: Gabe Mayfield

Gabe Mayfield smiles in front of the NorShor Theater

Faces of Duluth tells the stories of the people behind Duluth’s iconic attractions, hidden gems and everything in between. Traveling to Duluth? Learn the locals’ tips and tricks for seeing all the city has to offer.

It’s no secret Duluth has a vibrant arts & culture scene, so when Gabe Mayfield moved to the area from Chicago for college in 1999, it made him feel right at home. Today, whether it’s performing onstage at a Duluth Playhouse or Renegade Theater production, recording his own albums, checking out local music festivals, or planning youth talent shows, you can find Gabe Mayfield in the heart of Duluth’s arts & culture scene – and throughout the Duluth community. We had the opportunity to connect with the local performer and hear about what inspires him on and off the stage.  

What’s your Duluth story?  

I’m originally from Chicago. I moved to Duluth in 1999 to play college basketball and focus on my education. I attended University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS), majoring in visual arts, and minoring in theater. I fell in love with the magic of theater and the community cultural and art events throughout the area. Duluth has always felt like home to me. 

How did you get started in the performing arts? What inspires you to keep performing? 

I began taking acting and directing courses in college, then was cast in two UWS productions “Little Shop of Horrors” as the voice of Audrey II and “Amahl and The Night Visitors” as King Balthazar. I soon began auditioning for the Duluth Playhouse and Renegade Theater Company shows. Healing my spirit through the roles and characters I portray inspires me, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share my experiences with the community, colleagues and my family. 

Gabe Mayfield performs on stage, sitting on a bench.

What do you hope your art brings to the Duluth community? 

I really hope my art inspires someone who has always wanted to get into the performing arts but doesn’t believe they have what it takes to audition for shows, or write music and perform live. You have to put yourself out there. 

Where can people see you perform in Duluth? What shows/performances do you have coming up? 

You can usually see me in a Duluth Playhouse or Renegade Theater Company production. My next appearance will be at the NorShor Theater’s fundraiser event “Singing with the Stars” as a celebrity judge. Recently I’ve been focusing on my music, and I just released my second album “Showdown.” I’m currently planning youth talent shows, and special events in the area. But if you would like to hear some of my music in the meantime, you can check it out on most music platforms.  

Gabe Mayfield performs on stage in a magenta suit

When you’re not performing, what do you like to do? 

When I’m not performing, I like to write and make music. Creating is something that stays with me throughout the day. 

I like coaching basketball, whether it’s officially coaching a team, or just playing with my kids at the park. I also like to go to community events that bring awareness to and support people of color, including the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial remembrance ceremonies, local NAACP events, and recovery awareness gatherings.   

What do you do as your day job? 

I work at Life House Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disenfranchised youth and young adults reach their dreams. As the youth center manager, I have the opportunity to connect youth to free and voluntary services like housing, education, employment, wellness, and safe harbor programming. With the hard work and dedication of our youth center staff, we are able to meet the youths’ basic needs such as hot meals, laundry, hygiene supplies and nonperishable food, showers, lockers and even Wi-Fi. There are also numerous activities, groups and field trips throughout the week. Life House is in the process of constructing a professional recording studio, giving our youth a chance to craft their music and production skills.  

What do you love about Duluth? 

I really love the fact that you can enjoy the fine arts, city night life and nature all right outside your door. Lake Superior reminds me of Chicago’s Lake Michigan which connects me to my childhood/early life in a way. I always enjoy just seeing Duluth’s iconic skyline whenever I’m returning from an out-of-town trip.   

What do you enjoy doing in Duluth, both outside and when it comes to enjoying food/beverages, events, etc.?  

Theater is what I enjoy doing the most, but I also enjoy hiking all the beautiful trails especially along the streams and beach. I can’t get enough of Coney Island, you can find me at Zeitgeist Restaurant + Bar for beverages after a show or supporting local bands or artists at many other local venues. I always like to check out as many artists as possible during Duluth’s famous Homegrown Music Festival as well as the annual Bayfront Blues Festival.  

Anything else you’d like to add?  

First, I would like to thank the city of Duluth for acknowledging me and providing this amazing opportunity to share my story. I greatly appreciate Visit Duluth’s “Faces of Duluth” series and having the chance to represent the African-American community in Duluth. I hope I can continue to contribute to Duluth’s historical arts and attractions and inspire others for years to come.  

Posted on February 20, 2023