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Young Bahamians 'Speak' Out On Personal, Social Issues

By Kortney Rodgers

WITH the aim of exposing fresh Bahamian talent and impacting the art community in a new way, 28-year-old De’Angelo Whyms continues

to host his unique open mic event which this week celebrates its two-year anniversary.

De’Angelo, also known as “The Lyricist”, said “SPEAK” is a forum that showcases artists who perform various styles of spoken word every Monday night at 9pm at the Blue Reef Sports Bar & Lounge.

In addition to hosting SPEAK, De’Angelo is also the man behind the “Chapter One” group; an intimate group of eight artists, including himself, who are passionate about their craft and performing.

De’Angelo told Tribune Arts and Entertainment that he began writing poetry in its most rudimentary stage at age six.

As a teenager, he became involved in an MSN group where he wrote poetry and posted it online, which received immediate feedback from the public, requesting him to write differently about a variety of topics.

Eventually, De’Angelo found “Express Yourself,” an open mic forum for artists of all genres, including spoken word artists, musicians, actors and comedians. The forum, which is now closed, was hosted by Nadine Thomas-Brown.

Inspired by other artists, he decided to try spoken word and has been performing in this genre ever since.

SPEAK, De’Angelo said, his is effort to change the attitudes of Bahamians towards the performance-based poetry.

He said he created SPEAK as an avenue for artists to display their work while also allowing persons the opportunity to vent about various issues.

“Through poetry you can recite things, and whoever is in the audience who’s feeling what you’re saying, they can relate to it. So poetry is not just for one person. It’s for everybody, and that’s why I created SPEAK, so that everybody could come and relate to spoken word and take from spoken word. The arts must be seen in this country and this is the outlet for it,” he said.

Thus far, De’Angelo as well as other members of Chapter One have performed for organisations such as the Bahamas Heart Association, churches and at other special functions. Recently the group made history as the very first spoken word artists to perform at the Tattoo Parade on Independence Day, which De’Angelo described as “the result of hard work and dedication.”

Quitel “King Q” Charlton, the newest addition to the Chapter One group and last week’s featured artist, said spoken word is just another avenue to share her thoughts in addition to debates and speech competitions.

“The Bahamian people who appreciate the arts have been very receptive. We have gotten generous opportunities from persons who see our talent and notice that it will be going somewhere and it’s not a dying art,” Quitel said,

Another young Bahamian, 20-year-old Nakhaz “Kazzo” Gay, says he found SPEAK through Facebook and attended the event for the first time to perform his pieces entitled “Treasure Chests” and “Monologue With A Deaf Man”.

“It’s phenomenal. I loved it. I love to be around poets, especially poets who share the same culture as I do,” Nakhaz said.

He told Tribune Arts and Entertainment that he began “speaking” in the form of rap, but preferred “the positivity that surrounds spoken word.”

“As a young adult, it’s very important to have a voice in society and that we tell our story because you never know who can relate to us or who will be touched by us. Keeping it to yourself would be a disservice to humanity,” he said.

Both Quitel and Nakhaz were received exceptionally well by the crowd who attended SPEAK last Monday. Requests were made for encores, despite the fact that the artists had to perform during a power outage.

The packed venue on Monday night has De’Angelo thinking about a bigger venue in the future. He also plans to take the group’s talents global, with dreams of participating in the HBO show “Brave New Voices”. Though SPEAK is predominantly spoken word, De’Angelo encourages artists from all genres to come out and showcase their talent. The event celebrated its two-year anniversary on Monday.

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