Don’t call it an “open mic night”.
But you can call it the sexiest shit in the city.
In a world where the music scene is often secluded, and participating in showcases for exposure comes with a fee, two Dallas artists decided that instead of finding a space in the city, they would create their own. The result is the SOULcase, a musical experience specifically curated to empower R&B and Soul artists, and provide an interactive and comfortable space for live music lovers to get their fix.
And it’s free.
SOULcase creators Blythe Dennis and Dana Harper were active on the music scene before meeting last year at a showcase. Dennis had released her EP The Heartbreak in the spring and Harper had been a contestant on season 11 of The Voice.
Dennis’ first thought after hearing Harper perform that evening?
“What the hell!” Dennis said with a laugh. “I walked up to her after and told her she was amazing.”
The pair hit it off quickly, and after discovering they had the same producer, Dennis offered to help with the writing on Harper’s upcoming project.
Several months later Dennis was asked a question that changed everything. While talking about music and finding her lane in the music scene with a few friends, one asked if she ever thought about doing her own event.
“I told him I was trying to get on somewhere and he said, ‘No, I mean have you ever thought about having your own shit’.”
He was Kenny Reeves, who, as one-half of the team that founded the GoodCulture+ group, is no stranger to the Dallas events scene. He’s had a hand in several of the city’s popular urban events.
The timing was immaculate. Dennis was growing frustrated with navigating some of the politics of the Dallas music scene, and the idea of doing a showcase that was purely artist driven, that could break down the walls that block artists’ access to space as well as music lovers’ access to new artists, seemed almost utopian.
But it was too good of an idea to pass up on pursuing.
Dennis immediately approached Harper with the idea and she was on board, but they knew they wanted to concentrate purely on the music. In order to maintain that focus they needed someone that had an appreciation for music, but also had the reach and the business acumen necessary for curating events in Dallas. They had the perfect person in mind, but there was one small issue.
Kenny Reeves wasn’t trying to be in on the SOULcase.
“I just wanted to give her honest advice because I cared about her music career.” Reeves said when asked about his vision for being involved with the event. Eventually Dennis and Harper approached Reeves with their ideas for the event and persuaded him to join them, and since then, the three have been in the lab creating an experience with the particular combination of vibes necessary for a city that isn’t a stranger to good music or good artists. And though he was the last partner to join, Reeves passion for the SOULcase is clear.
“When the SOULcase gets here, people might as well tuck their summers in.”
The SOULcase isn’t just another showcase. It’s an intimate listening session that doesn’t put on any airs or pretend to be anything except a good time, with good drinks, and good people. It’s a space for the urban sophisticate whose musical palette is sultry enough to pair musical vibes with something brown and on the rocks. The easy-going music connoisseur moved more by quality sounds and ambiance than they are by smoke and mirrors.
It’s a chance for music lovers to connect to artists in ways that have yet to be seen in Dallas.
“We want people to feel like they’re in our living room kicking it with us. We recognize that people fuck with you when you’re authentic.” Harper said.
And they aren’t interested in being anything else but that.
The SOULcase launches on Tuesday, April 17 at Wit’s End Club in Deep Ellum. Doors open at 7 p.m.
For more information about the SOULcase, follow Blythe Dennis (@_singinbae_ ), Dana Harper (@danaharpermusic), and Kenny Reeves (@thekennyreeves) on Instagram, or visit www.GoodCulture.Life.
Lauren Whiteman is from Dallas, she eats Rudy’s, it’s been a while since she’s been to Big T though. She has a couple of degrees from the University of Oklahoma and is now an educator in Dallas area. Lauren’s work focuses on advocacy, student development, and the miseducation of Black and African American students in higher education. She’s a TEDx presenter and hopes the next generation doesn’t ever forget what to do for the 99 and the 2000. For her twitter shenanigans, visit @itsmewhiteman.