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V 35 Issue 28

 
 
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Voices Rising at Hugo House highlighted local artists of color
Voices Rising at Hugo House highlighted local artists of color
by Devin Glaser - SGN Contributing Writer

A profound mix of poetry, music, and spoken word greeted an enthusiastic audience Sunday, July 1st during the inaugural performance of Voices Rising, an event created to celebrate the diverse voices of the Queer people of color community. The diverse selection of performers gathered at the Hugo House to display their passionate work with those in attendance.

"I wanted to place the LGBTQ People of Color artists of today in the context of our history," said Storme Webber, organizer of Voices Rising. "We stand in a long line of creativity and contributions to the human struggle for freedom and social justice. Such giants as Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, June Jordan, Pat Parker, Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill among others preceded us and made our journey possible. An African proverb says: If we stand tall, it is because we stand upon the shoulders of our ancestors. Despite the seeming resurgence in faith based homophobia and intolerance, we have always been here and have been a vital part of our cultures."

Extending across nine hours, Voices Rising showcased numerous Seattle artists, including Jourdan Keith, Seattle's 2006-2007 Poet Populist, and Chad Goller-Sojourner, nominee for next year's Seattle Poet Populist.

"I was absolutely amazed and honored by the artists who took part in Voices Rising," Webber told the SGN. "The more well known poets, such as Jourdan Keith and Chad Goller-Sojourner, more than lived up to their reputations. Both shared intelligent, passionate and humorous work. I was moved by Tamara Vining's writing on Native identity, and her workshops on naming were very popular. Deborah Turner's work was reflective and strong. The young artists who performed brought an irrepressible energy that was very inspiring. Dakota Camacho rocked the house with hip hop with a funky beat and wise and wicked lyrics. The diversity of voice made this evening special. That is something which I haven't experienced in Seattle before. I was moved, strengthened and inspired by these voices."

Goller-Sojourner spoke with the SGN after the show to discuss his works and nomination as Seattle's Poet Populist. Author of Born One Thousand Years Too Early: Fat, Dark-Skinned, Gay and Adopted by White Folks A Fragmentary Journey Towards Alignment, he is currently working on separate, multi-media show entitled Sitting in Circles with Rich White Girls: Memoirs of a Bulimic Black Boy.

"I was excited to see it come together, and was excited to see the LGBT African Americans perform," stated Goller-Sojourner. "We've lost so many to AIDS and other health issues; there has been a void in writing. I was very excited to stand in the gap and honor our ancestors, by reading their work and producing our own."

Goller-Sojourner will be performing at this year's Seattle Black Pride on Friday, July 20th at the Langston Hughes Cultural Activity Center (104 17th Ave S., Seattle). His website is www.goller-sojourner.com.

The success of this year's show has led Webber to begin planning future iterations. "Voices Rising will return, in another venue with some of the same artists as well as others who weren't part of this one," he said. "The interest and support has been strong and empowering. I think we are responding to a need for community and self expression. We will continue to develop into a nurturing and adventurous venue for the creative expression of LGBTQ People of Color. We invite all to join with us and be inspired by our beauty and our truth. We will continue to feature not only spoken word/poetry performance, but also multimedia art. Voices Rising aims to invite you the audience fully into our lives by creating an atmosphere filled with our stories."
 

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