MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Some New York eateries might be migrating down to Washington, but as Jessica Palombo tells us, a playwright in D.C. is concerned about a migration she's seeing in the opposite direction So she's setting out to change that.
MS. JESSICA PALOMBO
Khadijah Ali-Coleman is visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown D.C. when a line of preschoolers follow their teacher into the lobby.
MS. KHADIJAH ALI-COLEMAN
That used to be me. I remember coming and I can't imagine that I was that little.
Now, 37 years old, Ali-Coleman toured this same library when she went to preschool across the street. She says that early exposure to books is what eventually ignited her love of writing.
When I present myself to people as an artist, even though I've sung, I've acted and things like that, it's always, I'm a writer. That's what I am first and foremost.
But the D.C. based playwright says she and other black writers are still struggling to find mainstream venues to tell their stories.
Here what's really sad is that, you know, I know so many talented people from this area who have gone elsewhere because they're not appreciated.
So in 2008, she created an online community to help encourage local artists, liberatedmuse.com has approximately 730 members and 1,300 fans on Facebook. Ali-Coleman meets her members in person when she produces events, like this summer's June Teenth Celebration at the MLK Library. There a Liberated Muse member approached her.
And he said what you've basically done is taken who you are as a person and made it into a brand to share with everybody else. I'm not going to cry, but it's become more than I thought.
For local soul singer, Cully Williams, the Liberated Muse social network was the spring broad for an international career. Her debut album, "Light Up The Darkness," came out this year and she just returned from performing in Europe.
Williams says it was Ali-Coleman's encouragement to attend a music conference in Atlanta that allowed her to meet her manager.
MS. CULLY WILLIAMS
Just being on Liberated Muse has been instrumental in me meeting him and created a support system that I didn't have before and I would encourage anyone to join. Whether you're looking to further your career or if you just want a support system, folks that are going through the same thing that you're going through.
And a social network was just the beginning. Under the banner of Liberated Muse Productions, Ali-Coleman and partner, Macy O'Thomas, have produced three capital hip-hop soul festivals. In 2008, the music fest started in the same building where Marvin Gaye made his professional debut, the former Crystal Lounge, in Northeast D.C.
Some of the festivals local musicians like hip-hop artist, Koki, have gone to be nominated for Grammy's.
Ali-Coleman hopes that with the network, the festival and a published anthology of member's works that Liberated Muse spreads the message that artists have to create their own venues.
And if they don't then they will continue to feel rejected when they don't get invited to perform somewhere or if their work isn't commissioned or they're not asked to be part of a creative event. It's going to continue to be the sense of, us against them, if they're not the ones taking the ownership.
And she's hoping the road to respect and renown will start right here in the nation's capital. With local artists performing their own work for local audiences, large and small. I'm Jessica Palombo.
And that's "Metro's Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Sabri Ben-Achour, Kavitha Cardoza, Bryan Russo, Jessica Gould, Jessica Palombo and Emily Friedman. Our news director is Jim Asendio. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Jonna McKone and Lauren Landau produce, "Door To Door." Thanks as always the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts'' and our ''Door To Door'' theme "No Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see a list of all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org.
And while you're there, you can find us on Twitter, you can like us on Facebook. You also can subscribe to the free "Metro Connection" podcasts. We hope you can join us next Friday afternoon at 1:00 and Saturday morning at 7:00 when we'll gear up for the new school year with a show on education and learning.
We'll meet the woman who runs the libraries in Maryland's prisons and hear how shutting down local charter schools is causing headaches for parents and teachers. Plus, another art story from NPR's Susan Stanburg and a numerical tour of Washington D.C. with some colorful, kid-friendly characters.
One, we go to Washington Monument because it sort of looks like a one and he was our first president. Two, we go to the Vietnam Veteran's because there's two walls and two is the empathy character. Three, we go to the National Archives because that's the most beautiful sculpted triangle in any Greek revival that I've seen in the city.
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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