The Cabaret will launch its long-anticipated outdoor space – The Alley at Library Square – on Friday, July 9, with a performance by The Christopher Pitts Trio + 1. Like subsequent performances in The Alley Sessions, the event will be free of charge.
The Alley was created to be a collaborative outdoor gathering space where guests can experience live music and local art in a casual setting. The Jazz Kitchen will also be on-site so guests can order cocktails and light bites throughout the evening. The Alley is the result of a partnership involving the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Buckingham Companies and funded by Lilly Endowment.
The project was made possible by a 2019 Lilly Endowment “Strengthening Indianapolis through Arts & Cultural Innovation” grant; the central goal is to transform the alley adjacent to The Cabaret into an outdoor art and performance space. Upon completion, The Alley will feature an artistic palisade and greenspace installation, murals, overhead shade sails, lighting, and seating. All three partnering organizations worked with acclaimed Indy artists Quincy Owens and Luke Crawley to design and develop the space.
Performances will take place every Friday from July 9 through Aug. 6, and on Friday, Sept. 3. The Alley Sessions will feature a diverse array of programming including spoken word, jazz, storytelling, incubator cabarets, and more. This summer’s inaugural season has been curated in partnership with the Arts Council of Indianapolis and will spotlight “Art & Soul” featured artists in addition to other local artists.
Because space is limited, guests are encouraged (but not required) to make reservations. Those interested can reserve their seats at THECABARET.ORG/SHOWS. Learn more about The Alley at THECABARET.ORG/THEALLEY.
Following are capsules of the performances in The Alley Sessions:
July 9 – Christopher Pitts Trio + 1. The Art & Soul 2021 featured artist and one of Gritty Vibes’ “30 Black Creatives to Check For in 2021,” pianist Christopher Pitts focuses on connecting the roots of the jazz piano tradition with the modern ear through energetic performance, thoughtful collaboration, and aesthetic-focused compositions. Known for his vibrant performances and willingness to take chances, this Atlanta transplant has been featured with Sean Imboden Large Ensemble, Rob Dixon & Trilogy, and Sedalia Marie at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. He’s also recorded two studio albums as keyboardist/co-composer of Clint Breeze and the Groove and served as musical director for the 2018 award-winning “Convergence” program. (Photo by WildStyle Paschall.)
July 16 – Okara Imani. She describes herself as “a daughter of the mMoon, a vocalist, and a writer.” She studied music classically for a bachelor’s degree, but was raised under the influence of R&B, blues, funk, jazz, alternative, rock, et al. Imani added, “I’ve been writing prose, poetry, and melodies for most of my life with the aforementioned influences, performed across many well-established venues of my hometown, including The Chatterbox, The Hi-Fi, Square Cat Vinyl, The Jazz Kitchen and The Vogue.”
July 23 – Allison Victoria. The singer, songwriter and emcee is a self-taught musician from Indianapolis. Her style ranges from soul, hip-hop, R&B, folk, gospel, pop, jazz, and beyond. In addition to performing, Allison works with Arts for Learning where she hosts an all-ages program focusing on mental health, awareness, and love of self and others. Allison always brings a refreshing rawness on and off the stage. She said she has rooted herself in the community by using her gift of sound and rhythm to inspire. Her mission is to be a true voice for others and spread love one song at a time.
July 30 – Yadin Kol. A captivating performing and recording artist who’s a self-taught guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Kol describes himself as a passionate and soulful performer, taking listeners on a musical journey where love and faith balance the ills and injustices of society. Yadin’s records provide a combination of his guitar playing and raw mellow vocals. His sound has a rhythmic undercurrent which bears testament to his retro-leaning, neo-soul style, and his conscious-stirring lyrics come from his southern roots and urban life experiences. Kol performs with Richard “Sleepy” Floyd (drums), Shawn McGowan (keyboard), and Will Robinson (bass).
Aug. 6 – Lasana D. Kazembe. This program is titled The Blues and Black America: A Table Talk and Presentation, offered byKazembe is an assistant professor at IUPUI, where he teaches in the School of Education and in the Africana Studies Program. He is a published poet, spoken word artist, educational consultant, and scholar of Global Black Arts Movements and the Black Radical Tradition in Education. Dr. Kazembe has performed throughout the U.S., and venues in Canada and Africa. His aesthetic sensibilities are steeped in the deep, rich, and sentient genealogy of the African Diasporic experience.
Sept. 3 – Psywrn Simone. Pronounced “Sigh-ren Si-moan,” Simone is a vocalist, songwriter, lyricist, poet/spoken word artist, actor, and teaching artist from Indianapolis. Guided by Nina Simone’s words, “An artist’s duty…is to reflect the times,” she engages art as her weapon in the fight for social justice and equity. Her central endeavor is to uplift, educate, empower, and provoke change for the progress of Black people and marginalized communities and/or highlight their musical and cultural contributions through artistic expression. This year, she was selected as one of the four featured artists for the 2021 “Art & Soul Celebration” by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. As a performer, she has played various local and regional venues and stages – including an international music festival (Lotus World Music Festival), often to full capacity audiences, individually, or collaboratively with other bands, musicians, and/or artist collectives.
RENDERING ABOVE: The Alley at Library Square, located along the south side of the Arts Council of Indianapolis headquarters in the 900 block of Pennsylvania St., is the result of a partnership involving the Arts Council and Buckingham Companies and funded by Lilly Endowment. The Arts Council building is home of The Cabaret.