Brave Memphis Artists Stand Up For Justice Through Unique Music On July 13th [heART]
As many of us search for ways to change our community for the better, The Outcry has crafted a unique project that approaches performance as activism through spoken word, dance, visual art, and music. Their art is the culmination of years of passion and conviction and is now ready to debut with a bang in Memphis on July 13th at the Hi-Tone.
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“The music is eye opening to say the least. It gives me a little more faith in humanity just to hear someone use their talent to be a voice for the people. Respect.” – Suavo Jones, Ghost Town Blues Band
SJ Bennett, the lead singer and song writer, has pulled together local artists, dancers, activists, and poets to amplify the voices of Memphis carrying the message of movement for social justice. Evolving from the band SJ and the Outcry, The Outcry consists of seven professional musicians who have created a sound that no genre can contain. Often switching between multiple genres in the same song, The Outcry blends Funk, Flamenco, Jazz, Soul, Reggae, Blues, and Hip Hop in a way that moves the audience both through thought and dance.
“The Outcry is musical freedom personified. Their sound is absolutely amazing and SJ Bennett’s lyrics make you want to march in protest to social or political injustice.” – Tundrea Lyons, Radio Memphis
SJ’s brave and poetic lyrics manage to boldly call out injustices such as police brutality, sexism, corporate politics, racism and more (including Donald Trump) all while making you dance. Her powerhouse voice paints complex, soulful melodies – each note intentionally written with rare skill.
SJ has an authentic stage presence, speaking and singing from her soul, but she doesn’t stand still. Instead, she tirelessly dances with bare feet like no one is watching and uses her years of theatre training to entertain the audience for every minute of her art. She leaves all of herself on stage and doesn’t hold back with her message nor her movements.
Her mesmerizing performance is matched by the in-sync talent of the rest of the vocalists and instrumentalists on stage. Each of The Outcry’s musicians come from different genre backgrounds. Acoustic guitar? Flamenco. Bass? Rock. Vocalists? Soul. Electric guitar? Funk, Drums? Hip-Hop. Trumpet? Jazz. Instead of choosing one, The Outcry has chosen to highlight each of the member’s strengths skillfully blended in songs sure to be unique to any listener.
“The Outcry is quite the eclectic band, definitely a band you can dance to. Lord knows I did. Like, you hear the music and your body just kinda reacts to it, ya know?” – Rico Fields, Negro Terror
This July 13th, The Outcry is debuting their new project in an event packed full of entertainment and the creativity Memphis is so loved for. Beginning at eight, you will be invited as you enter to dance with the DJ and visit information tables set up by local social justice organizations such as Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (HOPE), Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Concerned Community Coalition (C3), Memphis Feminist Collective (MFC), and more.
As you cruise through the room, be sure to stop at the community art piece where you can paint your vision for a just Memphis and the name tag station to create a name tag with your proudest adjective such as “I Am Worthy.”
The Outcry has performed “pop up sneak peek” sets around Memphis to promote the 13th.
Beginning at 8:30, the prominent and award-winning poets, Urban Thoughts, Writeous Soul, and Hardface will perform their original slam poetry; provoking each person listening to passion for justice. Each artist was chosen carefully to represent the voice of Memphis and the resiliency of your neighbors. They have agreed to share their gift of shedding light and insights through their words.
Host, Rico Fields, will then hype the audience up before introducing the main act: The Outcry. Dramatically filling the stage, the Outcry will perform their first song in parallel to the choreography of professional hula hooper, Ellen Phillips, and friends.
Beginning with an upbeat work exploring the resilient experience of being human, SJ will transition between songs with her original spoken word poetry and monologues. The Outcry will perform for 40 minutes before vulnerably sharing with the audience a heart-felt experience meant to connect each of us to ourselves and each other. Then, the band will pull the room back into joy and dance with another thirty-minute set showcasing the same fierceness of the first.
After the last song and receiving sweaty hugs from the performers, you will have the opportunity to dance with what energy you have left with the DJ, purchase merchandise, and revisit the organization tables. The Outcry’s hope is for you to leave feeling informed, connected, inspired, and hopeful. Be sure to be there to witness the birth of The Outcry.
Introducing the night’s artists:
Writeous Soul is a native of Moscow, Tennessee who currently resides in Memphis. She began her journey of inspirational poetry as a way to cope with losing her two cousins in a house-fire that almost took her life, as well. Writeous Soul is currently a 7-time poetry slam champion who travels the country turning pain into poetry. She is the CEO of the Traveling Poets.
Writeous Soul has been blessed to receive several honors for her poetry. She is the recipient for Best Spoken Word Artist for the Juneteenth Awards, as well as for the Showtime Entertainment Gospel Awards. While the accolades say much about her talent, she is aware that she wouldn’t have any of it without God. For that, she takes no credit and gives Him all the glory.
Timothy “Urban Thoughts” Moore is a national spoken word artist who gives back to the community by serving as the Creative Writing Director at a high school in South Memphis. He sponsors the #2 high school spoken word team in TN.
Timothy Moore has toured all over the nation and internationally to Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Austrailia performing poetry for intimate crowds of fifty to massive crowds of thousands. Urban Thoughts is the 2016 Best in Black Spoken word artist of the year, 2016 Juneteenth Spoken word artist of the year, and 2016 Mtenzi Most Thought Provoking Artist of the Year. You may find out more about Urban Thoughts at www.UrbanThoughtsPoetry.com
Elliott “HARDFACE” Nelson is a spoken word artist, writer, actor, comedian and producer from Memphis, TN. He has been performing all over the country and has won two national poetry slams. Hardface delivers an electrifying and thought provoking performance. He has dedicated his life to write, produce, and perform art at its purest, undiluted form.
Hardface delivers brutally honest lyrical acrobatics laced with cynical, (sometimes off color) humor. This uncompromising artist has pioneered his own genre of entertainment by combining the stage presence of spoken word and standup comedy with the cunning of a pimp, the soul of a philosopher and the intensity of a preacher.
A former high school classroom art educator, Amy-Beth has been creating and selling artwork for over ten years and has been painting murals for three years. She received her Bachelors of Fine Art and Masters of Art in Art Education from Memphis College of Art. Amy-Beth is also SJ’s favorite artist in the US! You can purchase her work at https://society6.com/amybethrice/canvas.
Ellen Phillips: hula hoop teacher, performer, and choreographer
Ellen discovered hula hooping nearly seven years ago when Co-Motion Studio brought the flow art to Memphis. Hula Hooping helped her discover her love for performing, and she has since performed in Vegas for DJ Cedric Gervais, at the New Daisy with the Daisyland Flow Team, and at local performance events.
She teaches Hoop Tricks on Tuesday nights at Co-Motion and hosts an open studio night following class. She often collaborates with fellow hoopers on routines and videos that showcase her skills such as this video. “Hooping is a creative outlet, an expression of movement, and a practice that is shared with a community of hoopers around the world. Music and rhythm are everything when it comes to hoop dance. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to dance alongside The Outcry!” – Ellen Phillips
Deneka “LottaLox” Lewis
Memphis native Deneka “LottaLox” Lewis is a dynamic songstress whose powerful vocals are equally matched with her reflective lyrics. Recent winner of the 2013 Ostrander Award for her performance as one of the church ladies in the musical “Color Purple”.
A product of a diversely enriching childhood, Deneka has always had a talent for the arts. She has been featured in local productions of “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “The Wiz” as well as being featured in two independent films, The Forgotten Ones and Tricks, for which she produced the movie’s soundtrack. Deneka makes it a point to not get stuck inside the box, thus exploring many genres of music including Rock, R&B, Jazz, Soul, House, and Classical.. She is currently receiving major buzz on YouTube for her powerhouse vocals on her cover of Adele’s Rolling In the Deep as well as her viral rocked out remake of Kelly Rowland’s Motivation.
Deneka has also started a record management company, LottaTime Entertainment, whose goal is to position artists for success in the music industry. A great deal of Deneka’s motivation comes from her family and friends or her “tribe” as she refers to them. It is not hard to see and feel her passion. Deneka has finished her first single entitled “Pain” and is currently working on some projects slated for future release.
SJ Bennett – Lead vocals, song writer, spoken word
SJ completed her vocal music degree on a full scholarship and has since grown her art through study and performing with various bands ranging from reggae to neosoul. She has written music, short stories, and poetry since childhood and typically goes through a composition journal every month.
The Outcry has been in her heart for over seven years. This is her passion project and is the culmination of her life’s work, self-growth, and creativity. Her vision and hope for using her voice to carry the message of justice has given her the courage to show the raw and vulnerable human that she is to perfect strangers. The Outcry’s work consists of SJ’s original songs and spoken word pieces.
David Holguin – Acoustic Guitar
David Holguin, originally from Colombia, began studying music at the age of 16. It wasn’t until he was 19 that he realized his true passion and gift lay within the parameters of Flamenco Music. David is quickly becoming a nationally known Flamenco fusion artist, and has recently moved to Memphis to study and collaborate with a new pool of talented musicians.
David can barely catch his breath as he typically booked for multiple gigs each day. His gift of connecting with others through his music makes him a true asset to The Outcry.
Katherine Dohan – Bass
Katherine is as versatile as her bass lines with her original music, vocal talent, and ear for melodies. She has been a musician playing multiple instruments and singing for over fifteen years. Katherine loves humor, songwriting, and music and has been putting on productions for as long as she can remember.
A lot of the instrumental arrangements in The Outcry’s songs comes from her vision for melodies. Katherine co-wrote and co-directed an award-winning fairy tale comedy movie What I Love About Concrete. She also enjoys making comedic videos and delving deeper into the absurd through clowning.
Matthew Hicks – Trumpet
The members of The Outcry have found that Matt’s personality is as awesome as his brass skills. He brings The Outcry’s sound up a to a new level with his twelve years of tedious practice on Trumpet.
The Outcry makes room for solos for Matt because of how much his talent adds to their sound. He has performed in various pop up jazz ensembles, with Chuck and Nora Are Retroactive, and currently plays with The Crickett Orchestra here in Memphis.
Anthony Dabney – Drums
Anthony is an infamously talented drummer who is busy playing full time in Memphis. He has been instrumental (pun intended) in bringing up The Outcry’s songs from unique melodic ballads to dance jams. His most recent performances include the Beale Street Music Festival and with Valerie June. He is a true asset to The Outcry and the key to getting the crowd up and dancing.
C.J. is an experienced guitarist who’s played with various successful artists for the last 26 years. He is currently a full-time music minister and musician who also gigs with multiple musicians in Memphis. His talent extends beyond guitar as he also professionally sings, plays keys, and drums. His perfect pitch and the speed at which he learns new songs makes us jealous…but also makes us grateful to have him in our band family.