To kick off the night Jasmine opened the floor to any audience member who would like to share their own work as part of an open mic segment. With what has be all over the media as of late, she urged us to keep in our minds and heart the Black Lives Matter movement here in the U.S.
A handful of folks from the audience, from as young as 16, shared their work reflecting their own identities and especially highlighting Black Death, the war on Black people, and their own personal experiences.
|Poet Steven Willis, on the Open Mic|
As soon as the open mic concluded, the room went dark and then I took to the stage to start the main event. Performing 3 of my own pieces with the most energy including "Harriet Tubman", that feeling was certainly reciprocated by the audience. Moving along we heard from Musician André Richard. André wowed the audience as he created a song, live right in front of us, using his own voice, guitar for its strings and it's body as a drum. He sung about 3 of his own original songs all having their roots in reggae music. Then we met Singer, songwriter and poet Amy Leon. Amy performed several poems paired with song and even brought André back to the stage to play his guitar as she freestyle a song just for us. A classic voice with range and just enough raspiness to make you feel something, to bring soul into the most dull room, Amy Leon is someone to look out for.
|Amy and André|
|Jasmine and Amy|
and Finally, the poet everyone had been waiting for and the reason for the event Jasmine Mans took to the stage. Having read new pieces and performed a few fan favorites as usual Jasmine did not disappoint. Paralleling her poetry with dialogue created a warmer space. She shared her opinions on the state of the world today and being Black in America as well as her own personal stories that influenced the poems she shared with us. To close out her set Jasmine invited Amy Leon back to the stage to perform one of her latest singles "Burning in Birmingham" along with her reading her own poem about the infamous church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama September of 1963 which resulted in the death of four young Black girls. Jasmine finished her piece and walked off the stage leaving Amy to finish the song fully and then go into her own poem which goes along with it.
Overall the night was a reminder in the need for this work, this art and that we are still here and we the privilege, right, and blessing to speak when there are so many who have been silenced. Here are some more photos from the event, captured by Kolin Mendez, a complete gallery is up for viewing on their website http://kolinmendez.com/
To keep up with Jasmine Mans you can visit her website Jasminemans.com/ and to see what I'm doing visit my official website Kearmonie.com/