Despite the weather warning this weekend, volunteers, performers and proud parents gathered for Second Friday Open Mic Night at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, located at 5918 N. Fifth St.
Created in part by North Fifth Street Revitalization Project, the monthly event has proven to be a successful and innovative feature within the community since it’s first occurrence 17-months ago. With support from the church, as well as local organizations ArtsRising and Philadelphia Education fund, Open Mic night has continued to provide the citizens of Olney with a creative outlet to showcase their talents.
Marshelia Barrett, volunteer of the North Fifth Street Revitalization project, provided an energetic narrative throughout the night and a few wise words to the members of the audience.
“Make others desire to do what you do. Be proud of what you do,” Barrett said from the podium. Barrett has been a volunteer with the organization since it began.
Barrett, too, was part of the performance as she read a poem of her own halfway through the ceremony.
Ambrose Liu, with the ArtsRising and Philadelphia Education Fund, joined Barrett in co-hosting the event as he monitored the sound engineering of the night on the side of the performance stage.
Liu, who signed on board to team up with the North Fifth Street event coordinators last summer, said he believes that Open Mic night offers a significant amount of support for both the younger and older performers in the community. Liu kicked off the night with his own performance followed by a song duet, poetry readings and dance performances from the other performers.
Providing the community with a judgment free and supportive zone of expression is something that Barrett and Liu both encourage their audience members and performers to do.
Poet D.C Murphy read two selections during the night that sparked inspiration for her young admirers. Focusing on Black History Month and the importance of safety in public schools, Murphy planted a firm foot on her feelings toward tolerance.
Community engagement coordinator Stephanie Michel has been with the North Fifth Street Revitalization Project for six months now and is an Olney native. Michel, 25, works to create an enjoyable and connected community within her hometown through activities and outreach.
“It’s really important to make sure kids have support like this in the community,” said Michel.