Yips and cheers filled the air as the dancer’s thin arms swirled in fluid waves, silver bracelets twinkling on her wrists in a counterpoint to the thud of her red velvet heels on the wooden stage. Her black gauzy overshirt billowed as she performed the piece. When she ended, arms outstretched and palms upturned, the audience - whose ages ranged from about twelve to sixty - erupted in applause.
For the past three months, local artists like Neith Sankofa have converged on Community Grounds to share their talent with the South Atlanta community during a live music night. This past September 27, she joined with about six other artists to fill the coffee shop with dance, spoken word, and even juggling with swords.
At FCS, establishing flourishing community means holding both physical and emotional spaces where the community can gather, celebrate, and enjoy the talents that surround them. “The community loves the fact that there’s another live entertainment option at night in the neighborhood,” Josh Barber, the Community Grounds store manager, commented. “After the second one,” he continued, “people left saying ‘wow, I’m going to tell people about this’ and ‘I wasn’t expecting this.’”
The Live Music night emerged from a long conversation with a local spoken word artist, Ascended Breath, who had come into Community Grounds for a business meeting, but ended up talking about life and vision with Josh. Ascended Breath, whose name is Kalin off-stage, agreed to serve as the events coordinator for the Live Music Night. He selects the artists looking particularly for local artists who have live performance experience and will contribute to the sense of unity during the live music night.
“This is a coffee shop, not a club, and we have a diverse crowd that comes here age-wise, race-wise, income-wise,” Josh said. “The artists need to know that and speak to that diverse audience.” He notes that so far, the artists have achieved that in a way that has boosted FCS’ overall mission of unity in community. “The night shows people that mixed-income neighborhoods can exist, diverse neighborhoods can exist, people can live side by side.”
For Kalin, the night serves as an opportunity not only for locals to relish others’ creativity, but as a chance for them to discover their own creative impulse. “Our desire is for people to become inspired to move and create,” Kalin said with a smile spreading across his freckled face.
After the second Live Music Night, one of the audience members approached Kalin and said, “Tonight was great! I’m going to go home and start writing tonight.”
Kalin remarked, “if people can come and do that, I can sleep easy. If that person is going to go home and start creating again after the event, I can sleep easy.”
We’re so proud of the beauty we get to host and help foster in our community through the Live Music Night. Join us at Community Grounds this Thursday, October 25 from 6:30-9:30pm for the next one!