Detroit Performs

S6 E8 | FULL EPISODE

Fierce Female Artists

On this episode of Detroit Performs: Powerhouse vocalist Alise King; The Bottom Line Coffee House allows people to share their stories; And artist Anna Skibska has as a sharp edge. Plus, host DJ Oliver pops into Lawrence Street Gallery and interviews one of its founding members. Episode 608.

AIRED: August 22, 2017 | 0:25:46
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TRANSCRIPT

DJ NARRATING: In this episode of Detroit Performs,

a powerhouse vocalist, a coffee house allows people to share

their stories, and an artist with a sharp edge.

It's all ahead on this edition of Detroit Performs.

ANNOUNCER: Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by:

Masco Corporation is proud to manufacture innovative and

environmentally friendly products for the home.

Delta Faucets, KraftMaid and Merillat Cabinets,

and Behr brand paints have all been designed with you in mind.

Masco and its family of companies serving Michigan

communities since 1929.

Funding is also provided by: the Michigan Council for Arts &

Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts,

and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.

Thank you.

♪♪

♪♪

Hello and welcome to Detroit Performs.

I'm your host, DJ Oliver.

And today I'm at the Lawrence Street Gallery here in Ferndale.

This gallery is run by 28 artists and has a new exhibition

each month.

My favorite part, each exhibition is free and open

to the public.

Plus, they're pretty remarkable.

I'll be talking to one of the gallery's founding members later

in the show.

But let's get to our first segment.

Alise King is an award-winning vocalist better known as the

Soulful Diva, making her mark on the music scene.

Get ready because her voice is about to blow you away.

♪ I want, want, want your love ♪

♪ Need, need, need your love ♪

♪ Want, want, want your love ♪

♪ Need, need, need your love ♪

♪ Can't you see? ♪

ALISE: My purpose is music, and I want to live

every day in my purpose.

I'm a sweetheart.

I don't bite, unless you want me to.

(laughs)

And I love people.

I tell people all the time, approach me.

I'll give hugs.

I love hugs.

I grew up here in Detroit, Michigan.

I first got into music, honestly,

I didn't even know I could sing.

I was about 11 years old, and I was at a family barbecue,

and my aunts were known for singing.

And I just accidentally tried to do what they were doing,

and I was like, oh, I can sing.

You know, so from there it became a passion of mine.

♪♪

♪ I say, baby, you need me ♪

♪ Any time or any time at all. ♪

ALISE: As I grew older I realized I am not a

nine-to-fiver.

I am a creative.

And I didn't want to keep sitting on my gift.

I wanted to get out there and I wanted to make people smile

doing what I felt I was born to do.

♪♪

♪ I'm feeling inside my soul ♪

♪ Oh, let it get into you ♪

ALISE: Somebody said, you sing with such ease,

do you get nervous?

Girl, yeah, I'm nervous all the time.

Nervousness keeps me human.

I'm just a girl that wants to sing.

I'm just a girl with a dream to see people having a good time,

and then to see people of all colors,

diversity, coming together, dancing,

because there's so much going on in the world right now that

people are angry and people are mad.

And music is bringing them together,

and they're forgetting all of that,

and they're having a good time together, too.

♪♪

♪ Let it get into you. ♪

ALISE: Today we are performing.

I'm going to give a great show.

My band's going to be here today.

Shout out to the Pure Nastiness Band,

and we go'n rock out.

We got some good stuff coming for y'all.

We outside, but it's going to be some funky clouds in the air

today with the Pure Nastiness Band on the stage,

I'm telling you.

We're going to do some probably a little

Frankie Beverly and Maze.

♪♪

♪ We've had our good times ♪

♪ That's what they say ♪

ALISE: Oh, we're definitely doing Bruno Mars,

honey, that's my guy right there.

You can't do a festival and not do Bruno Mars.

♪♪

♪ Put your hands up. ♪

♪ Uptown funk you up ♪

♪ Uptown funk you up ♪

♪ Uptown funk you up ♪

♪ Uptown funk you up ♪

ALISE: I have a new album, a new EP coming up.

It's called "In the Key of Soul".

It's seven tracks.

All show a different side of me vocally.

I'm known as the powerhouse vocalist.

I am known as the growler, but there's a softer side to Alise.

I want to give the fans more of the neo-soul me.

Oh, trust and believe you still get the power, honey.

But I wanted to give everyone a piece of me.

That's why it's called "In the Key of Soul".

♪♪

♪ Working hard to make a dollar ♪

♪ and my dreams come true ♪

♪ Going hard ♪

ALISE: To be able to put my thoughts on paper,

and then to bring them to life in music,

it's an escape.

It's a journey.

♪♪

♪ Said I know ♪

♪ Everybody having a good time ♪

♪ Well, if you want me to, ♪

♪ If you want me to, ♪

♪ I'm gonna sing this song ♪

♪ Now, clap your hands ♪

ALISE: When I choose songs whether it's cover songs,

or if it's a song I'm writing, I try to pick songs that

I can relate to.

I want to be able to relate to my audience.

My job as an entertainer is to take the crowd

on a rollercoaster.

I can be in front of a stage of three people and I'm going to

sing to a stadium.

So you're going to get a growl, you're going to get some runs,

you're going to get a loud, just rawh,

you gonna get it all.

♪♪

♪ Hey, Jamaica fall ♪

♪ (Hey) ♪

♪ That's what it was ♪

♪ Hey, hey, do, do, do, do... ♪

ALISE: I want to leave my all on the stage and music is therapy.

It's my escape and I'm creating my freedom on stage because we

go through a lot.

Putting a show together is stressful.

(laughs)

It is stressful.

So, by the time I get on stage, I'm releasing all of that onto

the audience, and it's beautiful.

♪♪

♪ You make me happy ♪

♪ This you can pay ♪

ALISE: I feel like just being me,

being encouraging and being inspiring;

letting people know you can do anything you set your mind to.

The only thing stopping you from doing what

you want to do is you.

That's right.

Get out of your own way.

That's right.

Your fears are only as big as you believe them to be.

Let them go, y'all.

ALISE: Music is a 24-hour business.

Once I clocked in, I have not clocked out.

I take on a lot of responsibility,

because I am artist, booking manager and manager,

and road manager, so until I get those positions in place I'm

dealing with all of the things that come with those titles.

♪♪

♪ Come on, be my baby, ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on, be my baby, ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on, be my baby, ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on, be my baby, ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

ALISE: I want to go wherever the stars lead me.

I want to go and keep going like the energizer bunny,

and I don't want to stop.

I want to sing until I'm blue in the face,

until my throat no longer works.

So I want to be on the big stages,

and I want to play the big arenas,

but if I never get there, I am actually content and blessed to

be able to do what I've done, because I've got stories for

grandkids to say, hey, grandma did this,

and grandma did that, and I was a part of this movement,

and that movement.

So I live every day for the moment.

♪♪

♪ Keep on trying ♪

♪ until I reach a higher ground ♪

ALISE: I would say I show the world how Detroit Performs

when I'm on stage.

If you hear that growl, that's Detroit.

♪♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Come on ♪

♪ (Come on) ♪

♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪

(applause)

All right, y'all.

You can learn more about at Alise King,

as well as all the artists we feature on DetroitPerforms.org

The Bottom Line Coffee House prides itself on creating a safe

space for people in the community.

One of the ways they do this is by holding an open mic night.

We headed over to the Bottom Line Coffee House for one of

these special nights.

NOURA: We're at the Bottom Line Coffeehouse we're

on 3rd and Prentis.

We're about three blocks away from Wayne State.

We're in what used to be called the Cass Corridor.

I think one of the most radical things that

we do is that we listen.

We create a place where people can...be themselves,

where people can say what they're holding heavy

on their chest.

And I take pride in that.

Welcome to open mic at the Bottom Line.

Thank you for being here.

This is a full crowd.

Usually like people at trickle in,

you know, as the night goes, and we start off intimate and we

maintain it intimately.

But this is also, like, I see people sitting on the curb.

This is awesome.

I hope you're comfortable.

Guidelines for the open mic: do whatever the

hell you want on stage.

Don't be racist, sexist, homophobic.

I will probably say something about it.

I'll start with a poem.

"Garden City was the kind of city we always

lived on the edge of.

We rolled up Swisher Sweets and cruised through the streets

paved with bruised leaves in our smoky chariot,

an '01 Ford Taurus with a dent on the front-left bumper.

Cracked, white paint.

It was a place like Westland, and Taylor,

and parts of Dearborn, but not like Inkster.

There the perimeters of plazas were perpendicular with parking

lots for the $5 shoe outlet where we got our shoes for prom,

and some Wednesdays, and the beauty supply where we got our

fake eyelashes.

Those of us who would pluck them all out like some birds do when

the cage is too small.

There they had tanning salons named for their vacation

destinations with their families: Palm Beach,

Hawaiian, Back to the Beach, Tropic Sun, and Boca.

There worked the white girls, their orange shoulders like bare

branches where birds would otherwise perch.

Our brown boys took them to prom instead of us."

People who are not exposed to Muslim narratives,

people who are not exposed to the Arab narrative,

our villainization is so visible to them,

but our fear is not visible.

Our fear is people coming from those parts of the world,

our fear for our own safety, or for our own lives,

or for the lives of our loved ones,

or for the fear for the life--that we have for the lives

of people that we care about are people who are from the same

places as us is completely invisible.

And I think that is one of the most palpable things that I've

learned, be it like after 9/11, that we even felt before 9/11,

which is that our narratives are not commonly known.

Our narratives are even brushed aside.

Our narratives are invisiblized.

And so poetry, for me, is a means of understanding my own

story, and understanding in a way that actually communicates

not only the narrative itself, but the feeling that comes about

with it, and with that narrative.

Or even an abstraction of that narrative into a feeling in

itself, or an object of poetry in itself,

hoping that I can develop a language around that,

to communicate that, and to let it live on the page,

without necessarily having me be the one

to have to communicate it.

And it's my story.

There are plenty of other stories that are out there,

or that need to be communicated, that I think that we need to

create more environments to pull out those stories,

safe spaces to be able to communicate those stories.

"We were the ones who moved on up to neighborhoods without

train tracks, tracing them like a spine,

no nerve endings sprawling to abandoned homes and factories,

no automobile industrial complexes with floodlights,

constilating them, despite the smoke and its thick stink,

familiar to the children in classrooms a 1/4 mile away."

OK, it's almost an understatement to say that

there's an enthusiasm for poetry in the Arab community,

or in the Arab-American community.

I think that there's a way that poetry has sort of,

like, narrated our experiences.

Mahmoud Darwish is a Palestinian poet whose work has been

translated into, or like transferred into a song.

And those songs were sung during the wars.

Those songs are like Arab national songs that give us hope

admist like all the crises that hit us.

I mean, even in the Arab spring you'd see videos of people

during the protests who were just reciting poems in the

middle of the protests.

And it was--these were specifically the words of

Mahmoud Darwish.

I'm not saying that I necessarily following in that

tradition, but I'm humble in the face of,

like, the history of Arabic poetry.

But I think poetry for me is a way for me to understand my own

experiences, express them, and hope that other people will be

able to connect to it.

"There in Garden City, where anthropologists do not roam,

nor do they graze the streets to feed on awnings written in

liturgical languages.

There the FBI does not look through the suitcases people

carry beneath their tongues.

My parents, here 30 years, are self-taxonomized homing pigeons.

I heard them in the bathroom one day clipping each other's wings.

I heard no words, only trilling, and the crack

of scissors on bone."

(clapping)

♪♪

What's up, guys.

So I'm here with Laura Whitesides Host,

one of the founding members of the Lawrence Street Gallery.

How are you doing, Laura?

Great.

So tell our viewers out there, why did you start the

Lawrence Street Gallery over 30 years ago?

Well, I was one of eight people that--we were summoned to go to

Pontiac by a friend of a friend of mine.

She had bought the Salvation Army building,

and she wanted to have a gallery in it.

And so, she just started to get the word out.

And I went with a good friend of mine,

and we signed up.

We thought, this is great.

DJ: Yeah.

LAURA: We both had lots of paintings under our beds,

and behind the doors, and on the walls,

and no place to show them.

So, this was like, we thought this would be a good idea.

DJ: And so what did it grow into?

This place is phenomenal.

And there's so much art in here that's so diverse.

LAURA: Thank you.

Well, we've always been a diverse group.

We like all media.

We kind of graduated, and we are up to 30 members now.

And that really makes it diverse.

Right now we're kind of cruising in this business plan of the

cooperative unit.

It really seems to work.

DJ: So, can you describe that process,

and how you choose artists to be placed in here?

LAURA: People apply with images.

And we have a jury committee that looks at it and feels,

I think this work would be--would fit with what's

here already.

DJ: And so, what type of work do you feature then?

LAURA: All kinds of painting: oil,

watercolor, acrylic, mixed media,

print making, drawings, ceramics,

sculpture, wood.

We have a couple of wood turners, jewelry.

I'm going to forget something, photography.

DJ: OK.

LAURA: Photography.

DJ: So, one of my favorite parts is you have a new exhibition

each month.

LAURA: Every month.

DJ: Why is it that?

LAURA: If we have new work every month.

People come in.

The more people that come in, the more our art's seen,

hopefully some of it will go out,

you know, find a new home.

We try to encourage the area artists to be working and to get

a body of work together, which is part of the business of being

an artist.

DJ: Absolutely.

So, what's the demographic been like in this place?

What's the audience has been like their responses?

LAURA: Most of time they probably know one or two of the

artists, so they're anxious to see their friend's work and

support them.

And we have people come in every month because they want to see

what's up on the wall.

And I like to think of it as an art fair indoor,

and there's all sorts of artists here.

So, it's not just one or two people's work.

It could appeal to anyone.

So, we try to be as welcoming and as warm as we can,

and we hope that people have fun.

DJ: OK, I like to hear that.

So, one final question, Laura.

LAURA: All right.

DJ: Laura, what's the best part about being one of the founding

members of the Lawrence Street Gallery?

LAURA: I have a lot of pride.

I've met so many amazing people that have come through,

and it's just wonderful to work with a lot of creative minds.

Some things are pretty wacky, but that keeps it light.

DJ: Well, artists can be wacky.

LAURA: Artists can be wacky.

DJ: But, Laura, thank you so much for taking the time to talk

to us here at the Detroit Performs.

We appreciate that so much.

Thank you.

Thank you, Laura.

All right, guys, let's check out some upcoming events happening

in and around the D.

♪♪

♪♪

Anna Skibska studied architecture,

fine arts, and painting, but it was her work with glass that she

describes as storytelling.

Up next we learn more about her approach in an exhibition

titled "Revelries".

[Eastern European accent] I am on the Anna, Anna Skibska.

My profession, I'm an artist.

♪♪

♪♪

I'm a storyteller.

I am telling a story about the landscape of America,

the distant horizon of England, the beautiful

and big sky of Montana.

♪♪

I understood that this is the life,

which doesn't have any connection with the water.

That's the light of the earth.

So, that's what I made for the exhibition,

they're the heart of America.

I present also trees, following the architecture of this hall,

Exhibition Hall.

But first, what you see is a column,

and then the trees follow the vertical direction.

They set power to the sky.

♪♪

The fact that we're using glass is something that we're getting

a lot of interest in, because this is something that we don't

often do as well, an entire installation of glass like this.

What's interesting about the glass is that they're sturdier

than you think, and that's what's really fun about her

work, is that it has this dichotomy of massive

but also fragile.

You know, ethereal, but, you know,

weighty at the same time.

When she does her trees, that you know,

they look almost like they're going to fall over,

the way they sort of--their collapse at the bottom,

she creates an optical illusion where they have a sense of sort

of a fearsomeness that they're going to sort of tip.

Of course, but they're not, they're very stable.

And so, it's really fun that she has this--able to create this

lightness and heaviness at the same time.

And sometimes I soften the environment,

sometimes I emphasize the main features of the environment,

sometimes I make that more open, bring that closer.

MAUREEN: When you first enter the gallery,

it's quite dark, and sort of having that come coming out of

the dark into the light experience.

And what's really interesting about this whole installation is

that it actually has sort of an implied narrative that you move

from environment to environment to environment.

It has links where you can actually have a sort of visual

story that you can follow, or you can experience each

piece individually.

♪♪

I talk about the work, that she has this narrative,

and she has a clear sense of purpose in what she's doing,

but she also has a sense that this art is her life.

And one of our volunteers asked her how long does it take to

make this?

And she said, how long does it take?

It takes my whole life, you know,

because it really is her.

And so, it's wonderful that she has that sort of artistic spark

and artistic inspiration and that this is who she is.

That there's no way she could do anything else.

But she also has the academic and theoretical approach to

developing a clear and concise artistical.

Always afraid that I am destroying,

that I destroy the chaos, because chaos was the order

before the order was invented.

So, there's always, you know, always the contrast,

always the two different sides.

The lightness and the darkness.

The shadows and the light.

MAUREEN: It's actually light, not glass.

That's the medium.

You really get a sense of that it has this expansive

properties, that when you see a piece of her work not lit,

and not having the proper lighting on it.

And then you add light to it, it creates a sense of volume

and it almost grows.

It has a life of its own.

So, it really this concept of this relationship that you have

between yourself and the piece of art,

and the relationship work has itself with

the light and the glass.

♪♪

ANNA: I was hungry to get on the other side to discover my

America, because it was so promising.

I saw how open, I saw how youthful,

and powerful it was.

So I am following.

I'm still learning but I am here.

And that wraps it up for this edition of Detroit Performs.

As always, for more arts and culture,

head to DetroitPerforms.org.

Where you'll find featured videos,

blogs, and information coming arts events.

Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

I'd like to thank the Lawrence Street Gallery for having us

out here today.

I'm going to have to come back next month and see

what exhibition they come up with then.

Until next Tuesday, get out there and show the world how

Detroit performs y'all.

I'm DJ Oliver.

Thanks for watching, guys.

♪♪

ANNOUNCER: Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by:

Masco Corporation is proud to manufacture innovative and

environmentally friendly products for the home.

Delta Faucets, KraftMaid and Merillat Cabinets,

and Behr brand paints have all been designed with you in mind.

Masco and its family of companies serving Michigan

communities since 1929.

Funding is also provided by: the Michigan Council for Arts &

Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts,

and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.

Thank you.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

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