Black Artistry in the Capital City
Celebrating culture and the arts is at the heart of what makes Tallahassee special. Black artists shape the culture and beauty of Tallahassee through their expressions, which are captured in a variety of events and exhibitions ready to be experienced.
Black on Black Rhyme
Black on Black Rhyme is the heartbeat of the spoken word community in Tallahassee. Every week poets, spoken word performers, and artists come together to share their craft at Nefetari’s located near Railroad Square. The group was created nearly 20 years ago to build a community where poets could come together and share their work with other artists. In addition to poets, the organization is open to comedians, singers, and rappers.
Together they host one of the longest running poetry open mic nights in the country. In addition to open mics, Black on Black Rhyme produces a variety of signature events throughout the year. Previous events include “for colored girls”, “Slammin Against Violence”, and “Resolution in Rhyme.” These signature events are a celebration of artistry in its purest form. Since the onset of COVID-19, Black on Black Rhyme has gone digital. For details on upcoming performances, visit their Facebook page for more information.
Art in Action
For years, painters and visual artists have used Tallahassee as their canvas through highly visual murals and exhibits, bringing life to downtown, Railroad Square and the southside. Black artists use the backdrop of the city to celebrate the past and visualize the future. One notable artist Pamela “Kabuya” Bowens-Saffo put her art into action with a mural on Adams Street titled “Fabric of Life: Historical Covers.” The mural is a celebration of former slave and folk artist Harriet Powers and African American graphic artist Elizabeth Catlett. Her work routinely pays homage to the past and is just one piece featured on Tallahassee’s southside celebrating the black history. The Anderson Brickler Gallery where Bowens-Saffo serves as chief curator is a space dedicated to celebrating visual arts from across generations. The gallery, located across from Florida A&M’s campus, includes works from modern, post-war, and contemporary artists, with a focus on artists of the African Diaspora. Works are often displayed on their Instagram, with more information about upcoming events and exhibits on their website. Art at the Anderson Brickler Gallery brings history and culture into action one piece at a time.
Music for the Soul
On the Northside of Tallahassee, the Bradfordville Blues Club, or BBC as it is often referred to, continues to captivate visitors after over 50 years of playing blues straight from the soul. Stepping into the BBC is taking a step back in time to an era of juke joints, dirt roads and a culture curated in the south. All of these elements come together to express itself through rhythm and blues. Visitors come from across the country to enjoy the nationally recognized music and history that make the BBC unique. The venue received the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis, a nod to the rich roots found in Tallahassee. The BBC is also featured on the historic Mississippi Blues Trail– only one of two blues clubs in Florida to make it on the Trail. Historically, the Bradfordville Blues Club and places like it on the Mississippi Blues Trail were the only safe venues for African American performers. Today the club has remained a safe space for musicians to share their artistry with anyone with a passion for the blues. The BBC offers a unique experience filled with culture, history, and iconic sounds. As noteworthy as the music itself is the food- namely Miss Ernestine’s fried catfish. If you’re looking for good food and even better music, Bradfordville Blues Club is a must on your list.
One Tallahassee born and raised artist taking the world by storm is Royce Lovett. Growing up playing the guitar, his passion for spreading positive music from the heart led him to NBC’s The Voice in 2019. Since then, he continues to make powerful music in Tallahassee and has emerged as a promising community advocate. During the pandemic, he continues to share his music and his love for Tallahassee with his thousands of Instagram followers. To learn more and hear Lovett’s music, follow him on Instagram.
Black artistry shapes culture and the arts in Tallahassee for locals and visitors alike. Experience the Capital City come alive with the poetry, visual arts, and music created by the many black artists that call Tallahassee home.