For some artists, a showcase is a chance to promote their work in hopes of building popularity. For Donney Rose, that's only part of a bigger picture.
When Rose appears at tonight's Rockin' at the Roux House event, which kicks off at 9 p.m., he'll not only have a chance to show off his new spoken word hip-hop fusion EP, but also have the opportunity to show off the talents of the Baton Rouge spoken word and hip-hop community.
"I want to be able to showcase what a lot of people are not familiar with in our city: the movement of spoken word - which is way bigger than I am," Rose said. "Whenever I do an event, even if it involves myself, I'm trying to shed light on a larger community."
Rose described spoken word as the marriage of written poetry and theater. An artist accomplishes this by combining a written text like a poem with a vocal text - or vocal dynamics like tone and volume - and a physical text, which implies body motion and other non-verbal behaviors.
Rose said he hopes this event and others like it will serve as a conduit for those unfamiliar with this type of art to continue exploring it.
Rose, a teaching artist for the WordPlay Teen Writing Project and program director for the non-profit Forward Arts Inc., began writing creatively as a child.
At Southern University, he began attending open mic nights to present his material and used his marketing major to develop a passion for creating and promoting events for similar types of art, growing entrenched in the local spoken word and hip-hop communities.
"It pretty much allowed me to have an identity," Rose said. "It was kind of a niche for me."
He further developed this identity by participating in poetry slams - or poetic competitions - around Baton Rouge, winning his way on to seven Baton Rouge poetry slam teams, which compete nationally every year.
"My life is pretty art-filled at all times," he said. "When I'm not doing shows or doing recordings, I'm working within my craft by teaching the craft."
Tonight's event will include a number of artists who worked with Rose on his recent EP. The event's special guest acts will include DJ Automatik, New Orleans emcee Billsberry Flowboy and R&B artist Justin Garner. The host is comedian Howard Hall.
Rose hopes the event will kick start his popularity as a live performer.
"I spend a lot of time being a catalyst for other artists in town," Rose said. "I still am, but I want to put an emphasis on myself for the time being."
Rose has taken his work in a new direction. Unlike his first album, which included spoken word pieces over instrumentals, the second features hip-hop tracks as well as spoken word works.
Rose said his knowledge of poetry helped him develop thoughtful hip-hop for this album, citing the track "Pacemakers," which he composed with fellow spoken word artist and long-time friend Chancelier "Xero" Skidmore.
"He and I did a hip-hop track together, which was kind of mind-boggling to a lot of people because both of us are spoken word artists," Rose said. "I wanted the hip-hop work I was doing to be a reflection of the spoken word or poetry I might write, so you have verses that have narrative or word play or metaphors or similes."
A spoken word competitor and percussion instrumentalist for the Michael Foster Project, Skidmore shares an office with Rose and has competed nationally alongside him on the Baton Rouge Slam Poetry team, winning third place in the 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam competition.
"Donney and I have always had this big brother, little brother relationship," Skidmore explained. "It's a really natural thing to work on a song together. It's almost like working on a lesson plan together."
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