Local Kansas City musicians got together to perform “You Got Me Vol. 2,” a show paying homage to two legendary Neo Soul artists, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. The event occurred at the Madrid Theatre on September 30th and was organized by Stephonne Singleton– a prominent name in KC’s arts scene as a filmmaker, actor, and writer. Charlotte Street recently awarded them the title of Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Fellow. Singleton organized the event to promote community outreach and bring light to KC’s music scene by commemorating Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.
Stephonne Singleton preforming at “You Got Me vol. 2″- Photo by Cypher Troutner
“You Got Me Vol 2” presented a lineup of primarily Black, Brown, and Queer music artists: ranging from prominent local musicians like Cassie Taylor, Jass, Les Izmore, Effie, and Calvin Arsenia to hidden talents Malek Azrael, Vicman, and Hadiza. At the show, you got a glimpse at the impact Badu and Scott have made on local Kansas City artists (and beyond). It was reflected in how the musicians sang, expressed, and performed. Each act presented a unique ode to the legends–allowing nostalgia to run through the air and providing a glimpse into the artistry of each performer. Chills ran down spines as Just Angel belted Scott’s You Don’t Know. Eyes flooded with tears during Stephonne and Calvin Arsenia’s seranade Comes To Light (Everything). Childhood memories flooded minds when Effie and Velour Noire preformed On & On. Makeshift grooves took place on the audience floor as Adeta Marie sang Window Seat.
Stephonne Singleton and Calvin Arsenia (Left) + Just Angel (Right) performing at “You Got Me vol. 2” – Photos by Cypher Troutner
Their influences were palpable, which prompted us to ask: “what role have Erykah Badu and Jill Scott played in your life and your music?” When we asked Regina Del Carmen, her response was she admired the sensuality they both exuded without it feeling like they were catering to a male audience. They are both unapologetically authentic, yet “they both embody different ideas of what sensuality is. As a plus-sized woman, Seeing Jill Scott give off this raw and sensual energy is so gorgeous.”
Jill Scott performs on stage during CMT Artists of the Year 2016 on October 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Rick Diamond/GI for CMT
Del Carmen succeeds at embodying that same effortless and stunning sensuality. Her presence left us in awe. When we asked Malek Azrael about their impact on him, he said, “Erykah, that’s cleaning day music. It’s interwoven into my childhood”. When it came to Scott, he was a bit late to the game, but when he heard her song Comes To The Light, he immediately became enraptured. He continued to listen to her music and realized that “she creates in the same way that I create,” meaning she doesn’t let a box or genre stop her from creating what she wants to. She bears her soul in the way she wants to. And for that very reason, Azrael said, “I look at her as a reference for what to do as an artist.”
Black Female Artists Deserve Their Flowers
Despite their impact on the KC music scene and music scenes across the globe, it is not always acknowledged. Shilow and Epitome were asked “why is it important to pay tribute to Erykah Badu and Jill Scott and other Black musicians?” Quoted by Shilow “Education. To honor and pay tribute to the older generation of Black musicians is to educate the younger generation and show them how music has evolved and to appreciate the ones before them.”
Erykah Badu performing at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District – Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images
Epitome responded with, “Building legacies. We need to look back 10-20 years from now, after these people are no longer doing these things, and be able to carry on the tradition.” Their answers show why it’s important to have events like these. This event allowed the citizens of Kansas City to honor legends in the music scene. It allowed us to communally pay our respects and celebrate two remarkable and legendary Black women, which is rarely done in music but also seldom done in any industry. This event allowed us to celebrate Black culture in its entirety– meaning we can celebrate Black culture through past and present.
The Necessity of Community
Another reason why events like this are needed in Kansas City is because they foster a necessity for being a Black artist and a Black person in the city. That vital thing is community. In an interview with Malek Azrael about performing in the concert, we asked, “What does community mean to you?” He talked about how now, as a 24-year-old, he is fully embracing the community, and that is fully embracing him back. He says, “Even with this event, just through my passion for music, I’m able to share the stage with talented, beautiful artists, and I love that it’s a lot of artists that look like me. Because sometimes when you see the people that live next door to you who are also artists, it’s like why network up when you can network across. That’s community.” Azrael is not the only one who talks about the importance of community.
bell hooks (2014). “Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics”, p.227, Routledge
The importance of community resonates with other music artists as well. Regina discussed how the queer community has contributed to developing her artistry. “I come from the LGBTQ community and clubs; I grew up with drag artists. Being in queer spaces, you see that that’s where everything starts; people within these spaces would create something, and people will be talking about it later. It started in the ballroom, in the queer clubs.” She also discussed the importance of individuals’ culture in fostering communities and providing inspiration for her music. “ My grandmother used to play Chilean folk music and Spanish music, so I started singing songs from these types of music.” Duo Vicman described the community as “the most important thing after you’ve established yourself and anything” and “ the backbone of what you do and how you build relationships” this is a sentiment that must be echoed significantly in the times we are in. As communities work together to fight for the liberation and expression of Black people, community must be at the center.
The event gave space for various musicians and nonprofits to provide resources to spectators. Information on these musicians and nonprofits will be linked below.
Local artists renditions performed in the show:
Film Photographs of Performers at “You Got Me vol. 2”by Jade S. Williams