By: Shea Harris
I didn’t realize how many gems I left in North Carolina until I got into the flow of things in Florida. I was used to attending open mic nights and seeing flyers on social media advertising talent in the surrounding areas. When I moved to Miami, unfortunately I didn’t get the same. I knew talent existed here, but it was like searching through a haystack for a needle. The only time I could look forward to seeing local artist was during Art Walk. It’s such a tease to sit and wait for the second Saturday of each month to come around just to spot artists in the midst of the turn up.
On Sunday, March 13th I was honored to attend A.R.T. Live presents Soul Night and please believe I got my entire life. While I was driving to the venue, I was calming my nerves so I would be able to arrive with confidence and show my purpose. I was scheduled to interview three performers and let’s be honest I felt like my life was in shambles. For some reason all these nerves were flowing through my body. I didn’t know if I was dressed appropriately, I didn’t know if the artists would be open to speaking freely. All in all, I just didn’t know what to expect.
As I walked into the venue, I finally just gained a sense of confidence and said “well girl you been poppin thus far”. After the tour of the beautifully laid out venue I was escorted to my seat to interview the first artist, Ari Safari. She was a triple threat: the first to perform, the only poet and the only female artist. She started writing poetry to practice her English when she moved from Puerto Rico to California. Alongside practicing English, she used her poetry to help her through various trials.
At her lowest points she has been able to come up with some of her best ideas. Ari hasn’t always stepped on stage in front of a room full of people though. She started with Facebook videos and as peers began to share them, people began to notice her talent. She has written for others, booked multiple events and only turns them down if there is a conflict with prior engagements. Let’s just say you need to check her out for yourself if you want to hear some brutally honest and raw content.
After the first interview I was blessed with the presence of Reginald Ellison, the smooth and fearless saxophone player. At a young age Reginald took an interest in playing jazz music, but as he grew into this amazing musician he began shifting towards neo soul, R&B and Hip Hop. Reginald began playing the sax in middle school and has been playing for about 21 years. Not only is he a bomb sax player, but he is a firm believer that he has made it this far through the grace of God. Throughout our interview we shared stories of how far God has brought us, but that’s another story for another day.
Reginald has gone through the journey of being a starving musician with only music on his phone and a harman speaker. Through out his music career, he continued to showcase his talent and remained faithful to God. Over time he began to make relationships with people within the music industry for exposure. Sometimes without uttering a word, these same people would give him the equipment he needed in order to entertain various crowds. I’m still amazed he’s been playing the saxophone full time for a year and marketing himself during this time as well. I don’t even know what else to say about him except, GO CHECK HIM OUT!
I’m not sure if you can tell by now, but I absolutely love listening to talented individuals. Once I was invited to this event I waited anxiously for the day to arrive. The same excited I felt while driving to the venue was still present when I interviewed Frederick. The Fort Lauderdale native began rapping at 15 years old and always knew he wanted to. His experiences and various sources of inspiration made him want to write. As much as he wanted to showcase his talent, it was difficult for him to do so with little to no open mic events in his city.
In order to gain exposure, he took a different approach instead of waiting for opportunities to come to him. Frederick searched through social media, google and found out about events through word of mouth. He has traveled as far as Orlando to attend events in order for people to understand why he should be the next South Florida artist to blow up. When it comes to his music, he makes it for himself and continues to practice his craft to live up to his full potential. Throughout his performance he spoke on topics such as love and injustice in the black community. His performance left me speechless and I will most definitely be keeping up with him as he continues to wow everyone.
For those who know me pretty well, y’all know I can talk. I was only supposed to interview artist for 20 minutes but when I connect with people I just keep running my mouth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a whole 20 minutes with the last artist but I learned so much about him through our brief conversation. HMTWN is from Tampa and Sunday was his first time performing in Miami. He has been rapping for 6 years and surprisingly this isn’t his first love. He picked up music to escape from various circumstances, as well as strengthening his communication with others. It took him 3 years to put out his album Without a Cape, which is dedicated to his deceased father.
In our brief interview I was able to see his genuine spirit and humbleness. He is very adamant about giving back to the community, especially to the youth. HMTWN’s dream is to incorporate sports and music together in order to keep children on the right track as well as living up to their full potential. I couldn’t help but realize how passionate he is about his stage presence and those surrounding him. HMTWN and his live band closed out the evening with their beautiful voices and unforgettable individuality.
As you probably can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and wish you all were there to join me. Special thanks to Lola Chél, Jordan Catering Co., the artists who performed and all the beautiful souls who filled the venue. I can not wait to see what everyone has coming up next!