It was 7:30 on a chilly Friday morning, and the few patrons huddled over their coffee and pastries at Amelie’s in NoDa were startled to hear some unexpected sounds coming from the bakery’s far corner: Spoken-word poetry, jazz piano. A performance? At this hour?
Oh, yes. This was a new Crossroads Charlotte initiative, Art In the A.M., hosted by poet Quentin “Q” Talley, who came up with the idea. Q made the ultimate sacrifice for an artist. He’d been up until 3:30 a.m. on Friday, then woke up to get himself to Amelie’s before 7:30. The staff brought out coffee, which Q (and the rest of us) guzzled gratefully.
“It’s unprecedented that any artist is up at this hour,” a smiling Q told a modest but enthusiastic audience. “Hence, we only do this once a month.”
Q and fellow poet/singers BLK Swan and Filmore performed their works, some improvised, and Stephen Gordon contributed piano accompaniment. Crossroads has scheduled four more sessions, all at 7:30 a.m. on the third Friday of each month; they’ll all be Livestreamed on Crossroads’ Facebook page.
Q said people kept asking him why he and his friends performed so late at night. So he decided to start performing occasionally in the mornings before people had to go to work, and he took the idea to Crossroads, thinking it was another way to help build community through relevant art.
“People talk over coffee all the time,” he said, “so why not have some art in the background to help facilitate that?”
But the art wasn’t meant to just be background noise. Filmore kicked things off with a strong poem: “We are raising a society of soldiers and minimum-wage workers,” he recited. “This poem is for the broken.”
BLK Swan played a pair of her own bluesy tunes on acoustic guitar before all three poets collaborated on a spoken-word piece with Gordon’s piano as the musical frame. (“Wake up, man!” Q teased Gordon.)
Earliness aside, folks were glad they came. Alexis Godfrey, who usually stops at Amelie’s for her morning coffee, said she learned about Art In the A.M. on Facebook. “I love poetry and discussion, and I was interested in finding out what Crossroads is about,” she said. “I’ll be at the next event. It was awesome. Just the poetry and deep words. It just reminds you of what’s going on in the community.”
She paused, then laughed. “That’s all I can think of this early in the morning.”
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