By AJ Williams
Motown Museum announced today that it will host its sixth annual Motown Mic: The Spoken Word competition series on Fridays in March from 8 to 10 p.m. at Motown Museum. Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry made the announcement.
“Since launching Motown MIC in 2014, it has emerged as one of our most popular programs,” said Terry. “It began as an opportunity to showcase the rich history of spoken word as part of the Motown label, and it has become a highly sought after opportunity for talented poets and artists from all over the area – and the Midwest – to share their creative talents and celebrate in the legacy that has inspired generations.”
Motown Mic: The Spoken Word invites poets to perform original pieces. Poets of any age can perform in the open mic events but must be 16 years or older to be considered for the competition series. Every week throughout the month-long competition, two winners will be chosen by a panel of judges to advance to the grand finale on April 12 at the Garden Theater where they will perform Motown-inspired pieces and compete for the opportunity to be named the 2019 Motown Mic: The Spoken Word Artist of the Year, win a $1,500 cash prize and have their work published on a literary broadside.
“Motown put countless spoken word albums out on a label created just for spoken word. Ossie Davis dropped albums on Motown. Martin Luther King Jr. dropped albums on Motown. They were spun in Black Bottom basements and spoken right from the mouths of some of our greatest Black minds. It’s more than a record label,” said 2018 Motown Mic winner Mic Phelps in a previous interview. “The fact that artists can come here to see and experience the power of Motown and see themselves in that capacity is really amazing. It allows you to be a part of the story without recording there or meeting any of the artists. You meet them just by coming to the space.”
Motown Mic: The Spoken Word was created to pay homage to Motown Records’ Black Forum Label—a Motown spoken word label created by Berry Gordy and the Motown Corporation in the ‘70s as a venue for Black expression and education. The label served to capture the voices of African American poets and orators such as Langston Hughes, Stokely Carmichael, Elaine Brown, Ossie Davis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose moving and inspirational “I Have A Dream” speech was recorded by the label. As Motown revolutionized the music industry, its Black Forum Label documented the social consciousness of a generation—Motown Mic: The Spoken Word is a continuation of that rich legacy.
Open to the public, the events will take place at Motown Museum March 8, 15, 22 and 29. Admission for performers is free. General admission tickets are $10. Students with ID, and Motown Members who present their membership cards can purchase tickets for $5 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Motown Museum is located at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
For more information on Motown Museum, including hours of operation, visit http://www.motownmuseum.org or call 313.875.2264.
This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.