by: Susan Spit-Fire Lively MetroEast NEWS
Hey! Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! Please check out “Open Mic Night @ The Inn” (every second & fourth Thursday at The Cigar Inn -119 West Main St., Belleville, IL 62220) for a one-of-a-kind evening of the finest in arts & entertainment!
Our main feature for Thursday, Nov. 10th (Doors-8; Show-9) will be none other than Black Falcon (aka Kamau Baruti), an award-winning poet, vocalist, lyricist, and spoken word artist originally from Lexington, KY. A former member of his college Speech and Debate teams, he also appeared in various theatrical productions and church presentations. Kamau begin writing poetry while attending Fisk University. His work is socially and politically conscious and strives to provoke meaningful discourse and change. He says “I believe there is a value for socially conscious lyrics, not only is it appreciated by intelligent fans but desired, sought after, and necessary.”
In 1992 he started his first band (Flaming Elements), which played in Nashville, TN and won third in a B.E.T. Collegiate contest. He later returned to Kentucky and began working as an After - School Tutorial Coordinator at an NPO. There he helped impoverished kids with fundamental Reading and Math skills for three years. After the release of his first book (My Little Black Book) Kamau decided he wanted to more greatly impact children’s lives so he became an instructor in Behavior Disorder Units throughout the Fayette County Public School System.
Baruti started performing again in 1996 and also began hosting Freestyle Battles, Open Mics, Poetry Slams, Writing Workshops, and Classes. He is the only 6 - time Kentucky Slam Champion and in 2006 he became a finalist in the Individual World Poetry Slam (placing 10th in the world). His live performances are spellbinding and powerful and have earned him recognition on 3 different continents, in 6 countries and in 25 states, opening up for acts such as KRS 1, The Last Poets, Ursula Rucker, Jessica Care Moore, Fertile Ground, Club Dub, Queen Sheba, Sekou the Misfit, Black Ice, Lamar Hill, The Roots, Gil Scott Heron, Fertile Ground, Bootsie Collins, Cornell West, Sankofa, Bernie Worrell, and X-Clan. Last year he released his highly anticipated 5th Spoken Word CD - Warrior 4 Justice. Black Falcon currently resides in Chicago, IL.
Roxana, IL actor, poet, author, and spoken word artist Shane Signorino will be warming up the stage for Black Falcon. He sparks echoes of the past with his unusually modern beat-style of poetry. His intense live performances reflect an unusual level of creativity and originality. Shane has performed at Duff’s (River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series), Black Bear Bakery, FOAM Coffee & Beer, and Sacred Grounds. He is currently enrolled in the MA Poetry-Writing Program at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He is also a teaching assistant there, educating students in English 101 and 102. He has earned undergraduate degrees in English and Creative Writing, Theatre Performance, and Experimental Psychology.
Mr. Signorino is a gifted actor as well, having acted with many professional acting companies, among them St. Louis Shakespeare, Hot City, and ITP. He’s a St. Louis Slam champion several times over, and was the recipient of The William Carlin Slattery Memorial Award for Poetry. Shane was also featured twice on KDHX 88.1 FM’s popular radio show Literature for The Halibut. His poems have been published in Mixed Fruit, River Bluff Review, and LocusPoint. Shane’s now working on a full-length book of poetry entitled Bughouse Bound and a new CD featuring Spoken Word and Hip-Hop. Shane’s other passions include social activism and riding motorcycles.
Also joining us is Briana Sims, a fresh new face in the music world. This East St. Louis native is a highly skilled vocalist, musician and songwriter. Her performances are poignant and heartfelt and she has an absolutely gorgeous singing voice. Briana likes to dance and sing and performs all over the bi-state area, captivating audiences and capturing hearts wherever she goes. Her influences include Keri Hilson and Lil’ Boosie and she loves R&B music. She attended Curtis Miller High School in Alorton and is now a student at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, where she often performs at the elegant Schmidt Art Center. Miss Sims is an employee of Target and lives in Belleville, IL.
Tony Renner, an edgy and thought-provoking poet, author, artist, photographer, and producer from St. Louis, Mo, will be here as well. Modest and unassuming to the core, Tony jokes that he is a “late-bloomer”, and bloom he did! He earned his M.A. in American Culture Studies from Washington University (St. Louis) 29 years after graduating high school in 1979. Soon after finishing his Master's thesis in 2007, Renner began painting. One of his early originals earned him an award of excellence from Art St. Louis. His nature photography is also astoundingly beautiful.
Later Renner began a visual art blog, and eventually started a blog to post a batch of poems that he had penned while in high school. Then he started writing new poems to post during that year's National Poetry Month. Renner gave his first live poetry reading in August of 2009. You can see his visual art at http://tonyrenner.blogspot.com and read his poetry at http://contraptionstl.blogspot.com . You can also come and visit him at Duff’s Restaurant (CWE) on the fourth Monday of each month at 7:30, where he and his partner in crime fellow poet Chris Parr run an incredible show called Chance Operations. The popular monthly event features musicians, poets, and an Open Mic.
Next week’s Special Guest will be Mr. Arif Yohannes, a rising star in the literary world. He is a poet, writer, and spoken word artist, and his work is of great depth and intelligence. He began writing while attending East St. Louis Senior High School and has been writing and performing for more than five years now. He has performed at Schmidt Art Center, The Cigar Inn, and several other local venues. Arif works in construction, and is currently attending school full-time at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, IL.
Can’t wait to see y’all! We’ll have our usual Open Mic (free to those who want to share their gifts with us), plus great drink specials, the best cigars, a warm and welcoming staff, and the hottest environment to kick back and enjoy it all in. Hope to share it with you! Peace!
Love & Hugs, Spit-Fire