Local symphony orchestras, theater companies and film festivals all made a crucial pivot to streaming performances after COVID-19 shuttered venues across South Florida.
Now, Thou Art Woman, the eight-year-old celebration of music, poetry, spoken word and movement created by women and for women, is the latest festival to go virtual.
After coming out several years ago, founder Ghenete “G” Wright wanted to create an alternate space for LGBT women and allies to connect on a deeper level. A prominent attorney and activist, she enlisted the support of a core circle of friends and launched the festival, attracting about 50 participants. None predicted that the initial gathering would soon grow into a vibrant and vital community, growing steadily.
“Since its inception, Thou Art Woman has grown as a wonderful alternative to the entertainment options available for LGBTQ women and [our] allies. It also provides a non-judgmental space where people can share their experiences, be authentic, and above all else, really enjoy themselves,” she recalled.
On Monday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., Wright and co-host Nik Harris will again be presenting the same eclectic mix of performances, thanks to the internet.
“It’s like everything else [during the pandemic], you navigate and pivot with the times. Our priority is making sure we have a good time and do it safely,” explained Harris, who is also an attorney and well-known activist. “You lose the vibe in the sense of not getting that immediate laugh or reaction that builds the moment [but,] people love what we do. We’re lucky the excitement is there for our show, even if it’s not live, and that speaks to the staying power of having something so unique.”
Many of the artists have performed at the festival from the beginning and Wright has had the privilege of watching them mature over the years. She said of Esprit the Poet: “She’s not only a powerful poet, but we’ve watched her grow in confidence and command the stage.”
DJ JesiMixx is another veteran of Thou Art Woman festivals, as is Red Wordz. Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns is a familiar face in the local arts community and saxophonist Kim Jay offers unique sounds to the mix. Other featured performers include Aimee Suzara, Keturah McClendon, Katie Paff, Leslie-Anne Frye-Thomas and Emily Sheila.
“This is not cliché, but we have such incredible artists,” Harris said, and Wright quickly added, “Their pieces are so personal. Their stories are inspired and vulnerable at the same time.”
“The activist in me realizes that at a time when we’re watching an onslaught of anti-Trans legislation, the visibility of LGBT women is important … We hope it leads you to take action when the show is over,” Harris pointed out.
Thou Art Woman: Virtual Vibe will be presented online on Monday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. Registration is required and tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis at ThouArtWoman.Streamally.com. For more information, go to ThouArtWoman.com.