When: Sat., Dec. 3, 9 p.m. 2016
Durham's big-voiced, small-framed soul Laura Reed is treating her ninth annual music, art, and dance bonanza much like she does her own music, stuffing a variety of spectacles into one place, all mixed and matched to examine identity, love, and creativity. Those were also some of the salient features of her 2014 debut LP, The Awakening, which featured cuts that she loaned to recent television shows and movies and got Sheryl Crow's stamp of approval. But oh, what is a musician ever to do in that torturous, anxiety-ridden time gap between the first and second albums? Reed's interim, it seems, has consisted of a steady diet of brilliant company and collaborators, some of whom have committed to adding an extra surge to this party's entertainment.
On double duty, South Carolina spitter Preach Jacobs will bring both his hip-hop ambassador raps and his turntables as the night's host deejay. An outstanding hodgepodge of members from area bands including The Foreign Exchange, Zoocrü, and Carolina String Society will back Reed for the night, hopefully leaving enough jam space for R&B cover band N'kogniito to turn the Pour House into an impromptu karaoke night. And if you're interested in a workout session, a few of North Carolina's finest dance performers and instructors are hitting the stage to help you bust a few moves. Did someone say b-boy ballet? Try at your own risk.
Lately, Reed has taken a few risks of her own. In August, she released a video directed by André Leon Gray for her anti-gun-violence single, "Don't Shoot," aligning herself—a white soul singer from Johannesburg, South Africa—with the anti-police-brutality activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. For some, the gesture may have called into question issues of cultural appropriation and white entitlement, but the song and its accompanying video are a sincere call for peace and community healing. To give the matter even more chatter, select pieces from the recent Black on Black art exhibit at Raleigh's Visual Art Exchange will also be on display.
On a less polarizing note, Reed's adventures will pick back up in 2017, when she plans on releasing two vastly different projects: an "urban Americana" EP with Grammy Award-winning producer Shannon Sanders, who worked with Reed on The Awakening, and an "urban pop" album fashioned by Atlanta-based producer WLPWR. For a sneak peek into the former, Reed will debut its lead single, "Lately," Saturday evening. Sure, it's a lot to digest for just a fun night out, but somebody has to be the provocateur, right? Let Laura Reed wake y'all up. —Eric Tullis