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REO Town celebrates black art of the past, present, and future

Ozay Moore, Mikeyy Austin, and Sareem Poems standing together
Katie Cook
Local rappers (L to R) Ozay Moore, Mikeyy Austin, and Sareem Poems

Some new things are happening in Reo Town.

Lansing rapper Mikeyy Austin is one of the minds behind Reo Town Sessions, a monthly event that highlights local artists and connects them to the community.

One of those events is tonight, The Black Arts Matter Celebration. It’s at The Robin Theater, and Austin says it’s going to have art of all kinds.

“You're gonna see dance, you're gonna see poetry, you're gonna see music, hip-hop and then there's gonna be a ton of urban photography from our last photo gallery that we had this past Saturday, it’ll be hung up all around the Robin Theater. There's also gonna be an art vendor there and she does African art, she does jewelry, custom clothing, there's gonna be a ton there.”

The event is a celebration of black art of the past, present, and future. The “future” part is students.


“We're raising $5,000 for five Lansing school district students that are continuing their education in the arts, it's part of our Arts Matters scholarships. So all the admission proceeds and donation proceeds will go towards that scholarship,” Austin says.

There’s a long list of performers at the celebration, including Mikeyy Austin and his band. Sareem Poems is another local rapper who will perform.

He moved to Lansing from Long Beach, California. He says he wants to participate in the event to help show people what a vibrant scene there is here.

“I think just being a part of making people aware that the art exists here in Lansing, it's local... you know there's a lot of people who get a chance to see a lot of things and they're not excited about what's going on here because they don't think that it's on the same caliber or it's as good. I think this night will show people that there's talent here that rivals what they think is great and there's also a scene they can become a part of if they're artists themselves.”


Ozay Moore will also be performing at the event. Originally from Seattle, Moore is the director of All of the Above Hip Hop Academy in REO Town. He was named one of the top 20 Christian rappers by hip-hop website Rapzilla.


Moore says for him, it’s an honor to be a part of celebrating black art here in Lansing.

“I think when we look backwards and we look to the past we see a lot of popular culture has its roots in black tradition, black music, black art, and for that to not be an intimidating thing to our multi-cultural community, for folks of all ethnicities to come out and celebrate that, I think that's a beautiful thing.To acknowledge where it's coming from but also its ripple effect in society, that's huge to me.”

The Black Arts Matter Celebration is tonight from 6-9 PM at the Robin Theater in REO Town. Admission is $10, or $5 for children under 7.

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