Pick the City Up, pick it up, pick it up! Those are the words I left Strauss Park with, engraved in my mind this evening.
I entered Strauss Park to see quite a few excited youths in all-black t-shirts with white writing that said: #DROPTHEGUNS #KEEPTHEPEACE. Messages necessary for any community but especially for our city, which has so much potential. Led lights were around the rim of some of the teens’ black caps. They had glow lights around their necks, LED lights on white gloves, on their shoes, and in their hands. The group of performers were on the side of the stage dancing, engaging with each other, and singing, as audience members filed into their seats. It reminded me of the scene in which hip-hop started with break dancing, battle rapping on the streets of NY, singing and poetry flowing.
This was right here in our city, in the middle of Grand Center for the Arts. I knew I was in for a great show! K.P., the music director for this group called The Story Stitchers, was the first to grace the stage. He introduced the group as an ensemble of talented young performers whose goal is to promote City pride, intergenerational relationships, and to celebrate life! A positive message in a community that desperately needs one.
The first act, Juwaun Dennis, entertained us with his beautiful voice. With reggae tones and a hip hop beat he sang us a song of hope. We then had a moment of silence for victims of gun violence. The act that followed was a young free verse poet by the name of Emeara. The show was filled with positive quotes, original songs about soul searching, being true to yourself, and stopping the violence. An ensemble act called The Teen Counsel graced the stage with original songs and amazing dance moves by entertainers Antonio and Trevor.
In a city infamous for looting, rioting, gun violence, and negativity, the Story Stitchers’ message was one of hope. All the talent they hold brings light to the youth trying to maleness a different and break the cycle. Later in the show, a poet named Branden captured us with his words. A poem that seemed to come deep from his soul covered various struggles many youths today have to deal with. Addiction, gateway drugs, street gang violence, gun violence, everything was discussed openly through music and poetry. But most importantly they performed about staying positive, being yourself, and trying to make a change.
The Story Stitchers are a necessary part of our community and I encourage everyone to take the time out to watch their 40 min show. With original music, powerful lyrics, and incomparable dance moves, you will not be disappointed with their performance! All of the audience members gave this show a standing ovation. The artists were so humble and thankful to be performing. I felt incredible leaving this show. Go see Pick the City Up, it’s the light of life in our city.