Emporians enjoyed musical performances and poetry readings Friday night at Wheat State Pizza. The ESU Black Student Union sponsored The Icebox: Live R&B Music & Poetry, and the event was hosted by LaToya Williams-Green, senior communications major.
“First and foremost, we all have got to support each other,” Williams-Green said after warmly greeting the crowded room. “Second, be chill because you are here in the Icebox tonight. And last, have a good time.”
The event kicked off with Williams-Green performing one of her poems, “These Words,” followed by a performance by the Martin Dienkus Jazz Quartet.
“These poems come from personal experience,” Williams-Green said. “You are the best at what you see, so I write poems directly from what I’ve seen and felt, and it is very empowering to get on that stage and share that with everyone. Transferring from what you’ve written on paper to how you perform on the stage is a powerful and magical thing.”
Williams-Green, who is involved in debate and recently received Speaker of the Year at the National Debate Tournament, said she “made a connection between debate and poetry.”
“There was no connection between the two at first, but I made one,” Williams-Green said. “What I’ve done outside debate is the same inside debate. Everything is connected.”
Shayessa Williams, senior interdisciplinary studies major, recited her poems “Patience” and “Change.” Williams said she “felt at home on stage.” Williams reads her poetry every Wednesday evening at JavaCat.
“I’ve seen a lot of other women talk about how they don’t have anyone. ‘Patience’ comes from the perspective of God talking to them,” Williams said. “I’ve also seen so many people put each other down. We need to make a change for a better community and a better world, and that’s what the poem ‘Change’ is about.”
Benny Bowden, sophomore digital recording major, performed his song “This Rose.” Bowden is part of recording duo Gabe & Benny, which released a mixtape titled “Overcome” in January. Bowden said this was his first live performance, the song performed that night was also the first song he recorded himself and that he has recently been “creating a live show” out of the songs the duo has produced.
Kansas City artists Wanda Jae and Lee Langston performed a number of classic and new R&B and soul tunes such as “You’re Always On My Mind” by SWV and “We Can’t Be Friends” by Deborah Cox and R.L., with the band adding a jazzy neo-soul twist to each song. This was both artists’ first performance in Emporia, and the duo said they would “gladly perform here again.”
“This was an awesome night. There was a lot of mutual respect,” Williams-Green said. “This was the second Icebox we have done, and we plan on doing more. This one had a lot more people participating, so it just gets better and better.”