“Whisper and Shout” is an open-mike-spoken-word performance held the first Thursday of each month at the Contemporary Art Center. The mike is open to all comers, and everyone who performs is strongly supported. The overriding philosophy is that “everyone has a voice.” Whisper and Shout” provides an encouraging venue for unrestrained self-expression in Peoria.
In August, there were men and women reciting about subjects as diverse as relationships, religious commitment, sexual experiences, race, war, domestic abuse, and politics.
One young man said he had always been fascinated by words and the sound of words spoken out loud. His recitation included a lot of word play. A young lady gave a moving a cappella performance of a song she had written about her relationship struggles. A teenage girl gave a flawless performance of her work. A woman who gave an explicit piece about her sexual experience was followed by a young man rapping about his commitment to Jesus Christ.
The featured artist, Brandon “Real Talk” Williams, performed flawlessly for about 20 minutes.
Brandon “Explicit” Thornton started “Whisper and Shout” in 2011 with the help of the Contemporary Art Center. A graduate of ISU with a major in math and statistics, he travels to college campuses performing his poetry. He will be leaving it to others as he is going to grad school in Ohio this fall. He said spoken-word has a long tradition going back to the African griot or storyteller. In America, the “Last Poets” were a late 1960s African American spoken-word group who performed about social issues. Brandon said spoken word and slam poetry movements grew out of these traditions, and all cultures have an oral tradition.
Burt Raabe grew up in Walnut, Ill., graduated from Bradley University and worked with the Peace Corps in India. He returned to Peoria and worked as a welder and counselor before retiring.