Join us for an evening of enchantment as the Poetry Foundation transforms into Herman’s Lounge, a one night only jazz cabaret named in honor of the magician Black Herman. Dee Alexander (with John McLean), Ben LaMar Gay, keiyaA, and Gabrielle Octavia Rucker will interweave Chicago’s unique relationship to improv, poetry, and jazz. Co-curated by Jared Brown, Janelle Ayana Miller, and Noa Fields.
Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of the city’s most gifted and respected vocalist/songwriters. Her talents span every music genre, from gospel to R&B, blues to neo-soul, yet her true heart and soul are experienced in their purest form through jazz. Growing up in a household steeped in recordings of Dinah Washington, Ms. Alexander names Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chicago saxophonist Henry Huff among her major influences, setting her on the path to becoming one of the most accomplished voice improvisers in the world today. Ms. Alexander is currently a WFMT Jazz Radio host. Her performance is accompanied by John McLean.
Ben LaMar Gay is an interdisciplinary composer who moves sound, color, and space components through folkloric filters, producing brilliant electro-acoustic collages. An explorer of many mediums who has been called a “visionary musician” by the New York Times, Gay has found a form of creative expression that begins with improvisation and expands beyond the limits of any single genre. With more than 20 years in vibrant experimental music scenes, Gay’s talents have earned him residencies globally, most recently as a Mellon Foundation Archival Fellow. He has been a member of the Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians since 2010. Receiving accolades for a parade of more than seven albums, his release Open Arms to Open Us solidified his place in the firmament of the Chicago Jazz Renaissance and was revered as one of the best albums of 2021 by the Washington Post, Pitchfork, JazzTimes, and Digital Berliner. Gay is a beneficiary of the 2018 3Arts Award and the 2019 Worldwide Award from BBC DJ Gilles Peterson.
Chakeiya Camille Richmond, a.k.a. keiyaA, is a musician, writer, and performer from Chicago, living in NYC.
Gabrielle Octavia Rucker is a writer, editor, and teaching artist from the Great Lakes, currently living in the Gulf Coast. She is a 2020 Poetry Project Fellow and a 2016 Kimbilio Fiction Fellow. Her debut poetry collection, Dereliction, is currently available via the Song Cave.
Jared Brown (co-curator) is an artist born in Chicago. They consider themselves a data thief, understanding this role from John Akomfrah’s description of the data thief as a figure that does not belong to the past or present. As a data thief, Jared Brown makes archeological digs for fragments of Black American subculture, history, and technology. Jared repurposes these fragments in audio, text, and performance to investigate the relationship between history and digital, immaterial space. Jared Brown holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and moved back to Chicago in 2016 in order to make and share work that directly relates to their personal history.
Janelle Ayana Miller (co-curator) is a grandchild of the Great Migration, a Midwesterner with Southern inflection. Her practice is rooted within familial and communal aesthetics, looking deeply into bridging self and time as an act of place making.
Masks are strongly encouraged and available at check-in for those who would like to wear one. Please note that some event performers may choose to perform without a mask. The Foundation reserves the right to update this policy if community levels of COVID-19 increase significantly. Read our full COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines. Guests are encouraged to register in advance.
The Poetry Foundation’s events are completely free of charge and open to the public. This event will include ASL interpretation. For more information about accessibility at the Poetry Foundation, please visit our Accessibility Guide.