Monday, July 13, 2009

Get the Spirit at Black Church Maraca

One of the most exciting things about moving to a new city is discovering the hidden treasures that lie within the side-streets, alleys and boroughs. Black Church Maraca is indeed one of DC’s greatest gems, combining music, poetry and the love of life.
Every second Saturday of the month, a throng of artists pack into a private residence and assimilate under the guise of true artistic expression. Upon entering you are greeted with a hug or a warm handshake, food and drinks, discussion and laughter. By the time you reach the middle of the room you are immersed in the feeling of family and community, one which knows no color, gender, or sexuality. Everyone exists as a representation of themselves, nothing more, and nothing less.
After what seems like the passing of a brief moment, organizer and host Jade Foster welcomes everyone, and explains what BCM is and why it is, “Black Church Maraca is a monthly poetry reading [that] manifests the power of genuine fellowship.” She explains that it’s a chance to get away from the “Busboys” pretentiousness and the cacophony of club-going, and enjoy some good words and good music with good people.
She then introduces the featured artist of the month, this month it’s Venus Thrash, professor of English at the University of DC, who delights us with stories ranging from a little girl who wants to be an angel, to the ins and outs of lesbian relationships. Her performance continues scripted by the discussions and feedback from the audience, her thirty minute set seems to fly by. After raucous applause, Ms. Thrash joins the congregation to enjoy an open mic session. One after another, first-time poetry readers, Black Church veterans and previously featured poets and artists take the stage and bear their souls before a room of welcoming hearts. Michelle Antoinette, AKA Love the Poet, stakes her claim as a proud lesbian of color, despite her family’s dissonance and intolerance; her partner in crime, Missy Smith highlights her smooth vocals and impeccable songwriting skills before accompanying Love on a comical serenade. Local female MC artists, “Hyll Factor” offers the “benediction” to the beat of an impromptu beat box from an audience member. The stage then transforms back into a living space and the conversations begin.
Black Church Maraca, despite its name, draws in people of all colors, creeds, religions, and sexual identities. It’s shrouded heavily in pulsating intellectualism, poignant artistry and, like Jade’s introduction, genuine fellowship. The word “Church” in the title, I think refers to the visceral experience you receive, and even if you have never believed in anything in your life, there is a certain truth that can be discovered within the four walls. So the next time you need some uplifting and are tired of the usual city scenes, go catch the spirit at Black Church Maraca.

You can find more information about BCM at

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