When people attend a comedy show, they reasonably expect to to leave laughing. However, when leaving a showcase featuring Von Roburts, people leave laughing and thinking about the insight he shared, as well. Von is a hilarious comedian who’s commanding presence and blunt honesty make it almost impossible to ignore what he is saying. He is also an Actor, who sites Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobbie Oliver, and Patrice O’ Neal as major influences to sharpening his skill-set. His intelligence as a writer has allowed him to tour around the United States and work with writers from Funny Or Die and Bone Thugs N Harmony. Connect with Von and listen in on his podcast, “These Guys and Girls” Wednesday mornings on SoundCloud and iTunes.
Contributing Writer Love Letters and Black, CA, Davey D, Dwayne Wiggins, Gifted, Hip-Hop, KBLX, Kev Choice, LaMay Day, Mix’d Ingrdnts, Netta Brielle, New Parish, Nikki Thomas, Oakland, Out and About, performance, Prince, Prince Tribute, Purple Rain, Sheila E, Shyra Gums, Socially Flyy, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Tribute, Young
By Shyra Gums —
Losing the music legend and icon Prince is still very difficult to digest, however, the best way to carry him in our hearts is to celebrate his legacy and timeless creativity.
Ryan Nicole, Dwayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Toné!, and Socially Flyy hosted “Welcome 2 the Dawn”, a tribute party and concert dedicated to the great purple one. Many artists, Dj’s and media personalities, from Oakland, gathered to pay tribute at the New Parish in Downtown Oakland on Friday, May 13th.
The night kicked off with a stunning mix of Prince’s deep cuts and greatest hits, spun by Djs, Davey D, Christie James (Q102), DC is Chillin (KMEL), Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist, DJ Justin James and DJ Meezy. The whole room was highlighted in purple lights. The audience was dressed head to toe in purple, with a huge screening of Prince’s most popular film, “Purple Rain” projected on the wall of the stage. An even greater surprise occurred when radio personality, Nikki Thomas, of 102.9 KBLX energetically danced on stage, wearing a headband holding her curly hair to the side, and a mustache, pulling off a pretty successful impression of Prince.
The venue was completely jam-packed, and was the perfect environment to start the show off with a beautiful tribute performance from “Young, Gifted, and Black” a grassroots youth performing arts group, who recites a mix of poetry and Hip-Hop, commemorating Black History. Following was a brilliant performance of amazing Oakland artists such as Kev Choice, Silk-E, 1-OAK, Netta Brielle, Antique, Dom Jones, Ryan Nicole, Viveca Hawkins, The O’Boys, Mix’d Ingrdnts and more.
The money made from ticket purchases were announced by the hosts as proceeds to go toward youth music organizations, Youth Aid Non-Profit (Dwayne Wiggins), and to Elevate Oakland (Sheila E and Yoshi’s). “Welcome 2 the Dawn” was truly a night to remember.
Rondell Johnson Love Letters AllDefPoetry, ArsenioHall, California, Fiveology, GoodFather, ImageAwards, JillScott, Kendrick Lamar, LaMayDay, los angeles, NAACP, Oakland, Poetry, PrenticePowell, RJThePoet, SpokenWord, TheSourceMagazine, TVONE, VersesandFlow, Writing, YouRjzTruly
Prentice Powell, from Oakland, California, is not your average Poet. This Spoken Word Artist, Father, and Husband has been spitting poetry for over a decade; which has taken him on a journey to unimaginable heights. He is an NAACP Image Award Nominee, and has been on a summer tour with Jill Scott as a member in the poetry collective, Fiveology. He has performed on all five seasons of TV-ONE’s Verses and Flow, setting the stage ablaze with his powerful, yet witty performances, with fiery and bold delivery. In addition, he was the host of the behind the scenes segment during the fifth season. Prentice is also the only Spoken Word Artist to perform on the Arsenio Hall Show 3 times! When Prentice isn’t on stage He works with children, spends time with his own beloved children, and wife. When Prentice and I spoke he was not in the best of health, but humble and enthusiastic to converse with me; Even advising me ahead of time of how he was on “Daddy duty.”
When asked about his inspiration for writing his first poem, he expressed how he looked up to his older cousin Tyson Amir. “Everything he did, I wanted to do”, He said. It was at a local festival event, where Tyson recited a poem. Not too long after Prentice did the same. “Interestingly enough, when I recited my first poem I didn’t sign up for the Open Mic to do it.” Prentice recalled receiving such a good reaction that a Slam coach approached Prentice requesting him to be part of the Coach’s team.
“I had to write a poem every week after that for a Slam team I was apart of then competed in a National Slam Poetry competition where I placed fourth with the team and thirteenth individually.”
What astonished me most about the gifted individual is that he accomplished this only TWO MONTHS prior to writing his first poem! Prentice is no stranger to challenges. In fact, when asked what its like working in a poetry collective with 4 other talented poets he expressed that the participation is rewarding and has had a great influence on pushing him to be a better poet and writer. To my surprise and honor he asked for feedback after he shared with me an unreleased poem that he has not yet performed publicly. The title for the piece wasn’t revealed, but the concept of the poem is derived from “Yo Momma” jokes. I told him it sounds good, although some tweaks could be made. Prentice then told me when he shared it with a friend and member of Fiveology; he had more or less shrugged at the poem and said it was “okay.” It was then explained to me that it is important to have people in your circle that are doing as well as, if not better than you; they give constructive criticism and motivate you to strive and push your own limits.
When we touched basis on his motivation and creative process behind writing, I asked how does he balance being married almost 4 years, 3 children, working with autistic youth, traveling the world, and working the standard 9 to 5?
“Because my wife and kids can travel with me it makes it A LOT easier to spend time between shows and constant practice.”
With respect to his 9 to 5, Prentice works with a non-profit organization in Oakland as a Youth Therapist and has a good relationship with the organizer so he is able to arrange travel. I asked Prentice if working with autistic youth influences his writing. He expressed that it has a large influence, but it is not something he uses to be the main topic in his work.
Before concluding, Prentice and I shared a moment of sentiment. I asked the young phenomenon among the many accolades and credits he is recognized for, which one is he most proud of?
He laughed and said “To be honest, I haven’t been asked that before! I would have to say the time I was on stage at the Arsenio Hall Show. I had watched his show as a kid so to be on his show was surreal.” As Prentice spoke in retrospect about the monumental moment on stage at the Arsenio Hall Show reciting his poem ‘Good Father’, he exclaimed this exposure by far was “the most REAL!” He continued by stating, “That was an experience you would have had to be there to really feel it.” Whether or not it was due to his ailment at the time, I could definitely feel and hear the raw emotion within his voice as he recollected the genuine moment.
Prentice continues to travel, sharing his poetry with many and assisting aspiring writers in workshops. Before we closed, I asked who is his favorite artist of this generation? He excitingly responded;
“Dude, Kendrick Lamar by far; because of his consistency and lyricism. That’s’ where I’m going with my writing.”
I gained more respect and a more defined perspective on Prentice Powell after our conversation. I used to watch videos of him on YOUTUBE.com and would feel empowered to continue expressing myself through poetry. That was in 2011. Five years later, who would have thought we would be arranging an interview? This was a surreal moment for me as a fan of the craft, but more of a monumental moment for me as a fellow writer and aspiring spoken word artist. I asked Prentice what would be his best advice for an aspiring spoken word artist. He expressed the importance of having and honing your own voice. I then shared a poem with Prentice that I wrote and asked for feedback. After some positive feedback, and a few specific suggestions, he said, “I challenge you to turn this 1 minute piece into a 3 minute monster.” I smiled, thanked him and said, “challenge accepted.”
You can follow Prentice Powell on Twitter: @FollowPrentice and Instagram: @PrenticePowell1906