Orbiting a space with brilliant colorful stars, an electric glow from cerulean blues and regal magenta’s to the sensual warmth of hinted cadmium yellow hues flickering from one primary place. This is my metaphor for the setting of the National Black Arts Festival’s Salon, a NEXT event at the Hammonds House Museum in the Historic Westside of Atlanta, August 1, 2014. I felt elevated and inspired by all of the richly diverse forms of African-American art being presented. The stars of the night were visual artist Fahamu Pecou, poet Jon Goode, playwright Michael Molina and vocalist/guitarist Brenda Nicole Moorer.
Sitting on a comfortable sofa next to Pecou and Goode, in the front room of the Hammonds House Museum, I witnessed the number of people entering increase exponentially and the sounds of conversations grow louder. Meanwhile, high quality, lively videos with edited final-cuts rapidly jumping from one scene to the next projected prominently on the wall above our heads, all from Fahamu Pecou’s series “All that glitters ain’t gold.” A recent body of work that he describes as “a project that was designed around engaging with youth culture and their attraction to all the shiny things, the things we see on t.v., the glittery shiny things that appear as though they are measures or markers of success. I am challenging those ideas by saying, all that glitters ain’t gold. There’s a catch to all of it.” The video series, which targets younger audiences, are also a part of a group of paintings that cleverly speak to the subject. The effort and goal of the series, he says “hopefully will entice the youth to do further research and find the artwork and really engage critically the ideas that [are] being put forth.” (fahamupecouart.com)
Sitting to the right of Pecou, poet Jon Goode, in the true nature of a poet, powerfully addresses how his work engages youth. “When I write [my] poems, I tell you the story of me, hopefully if they’re written right, it also tells you the story of you, and in telling you our collective story I hopefully raise some questions. So often I try to provide an answer, but together through dialogue, sparked by the work, we can come to some form of solution. That is the goal, to evoke thought, to start a conversation and together move forward for a solution to our collective problems.” (jongoode.webs.com)
Our stars are in constant motion, so it was an honor for me to get close enough to talk with vocalist/guitarist extraordinaire Brenda Nicole Moorer about her unique new music and her advice to other aspiring artist. “My favorite [song] is called Bloom, it’s a very weird song; it’s a mix of everything. Its soul, it’s folk, its rock, and it’s jazz all in one. It [has] a very intricate melody that’s not very typical.” Moorer continues by sharing how she approaches her work and what advice she gives to other artist in or outside of the industry. “All of my music is about exploring yourself, discovering from mistakes, learning, growing. Bloom is also about blooming and discovering, don’t give up on your dreams and keep trying.”
As an independent artist pursuing a dream as a singer, Moorer advises, “learn the business side because there’s so much else that goes into being an artist besides just writing good songs, you have to be able to connect with people and get [your work] into hands and ears that need it, so I would definitely say, be a business savvy artist and stay true to what you believe in. When you’re singing, performing and writing, try to always have a message that you would want someone like your kids to hear in the future.” (brendanicolemoorer.com)
The intelligently animated and soulful skit by attorney, author, cultural organizer, arts advocate, and performer Michael Molina was captivating. This star merged elements of video projections, acting, singing, and rapping all in one delivery.
Molina and his two supporting actors left an impact that resonated across the room. Melodic scenes expressed heart felt and heart wrenching stories from Molina’s native home of New Orleans that took the audience on an audio/visual journey into his world. (momolina.com)
This was an evening of art, history, expression and unprecedented talent curated by NEXT co-founder and Executive Director of NEXT Faith Carmichael and team.
Learn more about NEXT and the quarterly salons and a documentary series showcasing the hottest and brightest stars of the city by visiting: next-atlanta.com
photos: Janssen Robinson