The Black Opry Revue concert will officially kick off the “Pass the Mic” series tomorrow night at the Tennessee Theatre.
The series of immersive arts events will provide a stage for artists from marginalized and underserved communities to share their art with a broader East Tennessee audience, officials said.
“Thanks to a generous donation, we are excited to announce that we will be able to offer this concert for free,” said Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock. “We greatly appreciate the community members who value our mission and want to help us share this experience with anyone who would like to attend.”
The “Pass the Mic” series was inspired in part by Black Opry, according to a press release from the Tennessee Theatre. Created in 2021 as a response to Black artists and fans often being overlooked and disregarded by the country music industry, Black Opry serves as “a home for Black artists and Black fans of country, blues, folk, and Americana music.”
Tennessee Theatre leadership and a community advisory group started meeting at the end of 2021 to create the “Pass the Mic” series, which was announced in February 2022. Following tomorrow’s Black Opry Revue performance, the theatre will announce additional artists and performances as part of the series.
“It is our hope to provide opportunities for new communities to experience the Tennessee Theatre and provide a stage for artists to share their craft,” Hancock said. “As a Southern venue that was segregated for the first 35 years of its existence, the Tennessee Theatre of today has a strong desire to partner with and feature artists of color and those from other marginalized communities, especially those that may experience systemic obstacles to greater commercial success, to demonstrate that it is truly a venue for all people.”
The Wednesday event will feature Chapel Hart, Kam Franklin, Jennah Bell and Songwriters in the Round: Roberta Lea, Nikki Morgan, Autumn Nicholas and Joy Clark.
In addition to Wednesday’s concert, the Tennessee Theatre will host an educational event featuring Black Opry artist Kam Franklin today at 7:30 p.m. at the Old City Performing Arts Center.
Beyond her musical talents, Franklin also is known for her unique collaborations, and both Forbes and Vice have featured her for activism and business ventures that seek to create an inclusive environment in the arts for female artists working in all mediums and from all backgrounds. This event is free to the public, and light refreshments will be served.
Not only will the theatre present regional talent through concerts, but each event also will incorporate other art forms through visual art galleries, spoken word performances, readings and other experiences featuring local artists. Each headlining artist also will be given the opportunity to discuss a social issue of importance to them and how it impacts the community.
After the events and concerts take place in person, Tennessee Theatre has partnered with Big Slate Media to produce a virtual product will be distributed via podcast and video to increase the accessibility of the theatre to more people and remove barriers to participation for the audience. As another facet of the initiative, community members will have opportunities to connect and interact through educational programs, such as masterclasses and workshops, and complementary partnerships with nonprofits.
“Our theatre is the stage, backdrop and narrative for so many beloved memories of people in our community and beyond,” Hancock said. “But we cannot be satisfied by the enjoyment of some, nor complacent in our role to uplift the arts for all – meaning all artists and all audiences. While the Tennessee Theatre has a way to go, we are excited about the opportunities for growth, diversity and inclusion that ‘Pass the Mic’ affords.”
Published on June 7, 2022.