OpenMike Presents: “Unwatered”, a poetry presentation by four CPS students highlighting the collective experience of being Black Women
Chicago, IL – SocialWorks, founded by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper, is excited to announce the launch of “OpenMike Presents…” (OMP), a visual collection of 100% student-led work and a subgroup of the foundation’s popular OpenMike program. OMP is an opportunity for students to completely own the rights to their content pieces, connect with professional partners, highlight their work on a professional & international platform, and create collaborative pieces that can be added to their portfolio.
This program was created to help prepare high school students for professional relationships in the industry by guiding students through ideating, producing, marketing, creatively directing, and releasing their art to the public.
“We hope through OMP, students can learn a pathway to actualizing their ideas, value in their voice, and execution skills to advance their personal and professional lives,” says Justin Cunningham, Executive Director of SocialWorks
OMP is a continuation of the work started this summer through its virtual #30DaysofOpenMike challenge, which inspired and incentivized high school students across the nation to stay creative while in quarantine. The 6-week challenge offered five prompts per week and awarded $500 each week to students that posted their creation using the hashtag. Judging was based on likes, creativity, and connection to the prompt. Every Sunday morning, SocialWorks posted a new prompt for the week on their social media and announced the previous week’s winner. The success of this challenge helped shape OMP.
On March 29, 2021, OMP will launch with a piece by four Chicago Public School students who have created a poetry performance titled “Unwatered.” It details the struggles and triumphs of Black women, highlighting their personal experiences and hopes for the future. The collaborators, Adamna, Asia Rogers, Ahniya Talia, and Hailey Love came together with their distinctive poetic styles to weave together a story that pushes viewers to think, feel, and celebrate Black women. Arriving at the close of Women’s History Month and the beginning of National Poetry Month, this piece is especially timely.
“Unwatered is a piece written by young Black women for the purpose of amplifying our experience and documenting the story of so many strong women in our lives. This piece was truly collaborative and everyone brought a different perspective to the table, making the finished product something that we can all be proud of. We hope this piece inspires Black women to advocate for themselves and other Black women, always. We are beyond grateful to have been a part of this process and the space that SocialWorks has created. OpenMike Presents (OMP) is the start of something new and impactful for so many students, and we are so honored to be a part of the first group of students to write, direct, and star in our own creative project through OMP.”
The public can view the video on the SocialWorks’ YouTube channel and can engage with the creators on March 31, 2021 at 5:30pm CT during a special IG live on the SocialWorks’ Instagram page (@SocialWorks_Chi). The IG Live will be hosted by Luster Hair Care’s Brand Manager, Resa B. Luster-Mac.
Those interested in participating in future OMP programming or who want to stay up to date about future performances can visit https://www.socialworkschi.org/omp/.
OpenMike is named in honor of an exceptional mentor, the late “Brother Mike” Hawkins. SocialWorks’ inspiration for the program came from Brother Mike’s legacy; he educated, connected, and inspired people to pursue their passions through artistic expression. The team wanted to celebrate and expand Brother Mike’s vision. OpenMike aims to teach showmanship, connect young artists, and inspire creativity within the next wave of Chicago youth. Pre-Covid, OpenMike was held every month in partnership with the Chicago Public Library. It was a space for high school students to share, express, and network with like-minded individuals. Housed in the Harold Washington Library, OpenMike showcased randomly selected students to present a 3-minute piece of their choice. Afterward, SocialWorks would bring friends to perform, teach, and inspire. The night often closed with professionals sharing about their creative process and pieces of their choosing. OMP is the virtual continuation of this programming, allowing students to present and amplify their work in a digital space.
SocialWorks, founded by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper, aims to empower the youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. Since 2016, SocialWorks has created 5 initiatives that present youth the opportunity to learn and act on their passions. SocialWorks’ programming focuses on education, mental health, homelessness, and performing and literary arts – directly affecting thousands of youth yearly. Through the initiatives, OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind, SocialWorks hopes to inspire creativity, build dreams, and advocate for youth success in all its forms. For more information, visit: https://www.socialworkschi.org