Hip-hop artist Maal Himself introduced each Lyrical Sanctuary performer by hyping up the crowd with a little music and this saying, “Up next on the m-i-c, I say.”
The UW-Milwaukee audience responded: “Gotta be too damn hot for me.”
Himself, a Milwaukee-based podcaster, fashion designer and rapper, hosted the March 8 open mic event at the Union Fireside Lounge. Lyrical Sanctuary focuses on an interactive experience between audience and hosts, who pump up the crowd for each performer.
Some student performers rapped, and others chose to do poetry, but each performance meant something to the audience and the night’s guest, MVP.
MVP, also known as Vikki Porter, suffered from depression, anxiety, low self-worth. She was inspired by her mentor, legendary motivational speaker Les Brown, to stop being the victim and take charge of her life. She now inspires others with her story.
“I use poetry/spoken word as a platform to inspire people to live their greatest potential, and I hope that it takes me very far,” said Porter. “I plan to be all over the world traveling.”
Lyrical Sanctuary is an open mic night that features standout spoken word artists, live music and art. It’s held in the Fireside Lounge every month from 8 to 10 p.m. For the event, students sign up to perform a piece of their own and get a chance to hear a professional poet perform.
For the past 15 years, Lyrical Sanctuary has brought many students and community members together to share their passion for poetry, music, art and creative self-expression. http://uwm.edu/studentinvolvement/more/sociocultural/lyrical/
Before the start of the show, students gather at the Inclusive Excellence Center at 7 p.m. as a featured artist leads a creative writing open to anyone willing to put their pen to the page.
Over 10 performers showed up for open mic night and about 30 UWM students and Milwaukee residents attended the show.
“I enjoy spoken word, and I just wanted to support other UWM students,” said Naomi Wilson, a junior journalism major at UWM.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Lyrical Sanctuary presented MVP, a spoken word artist. Her work has inspired audiences to tap into their greatness and live life on purpose.
Throughout Porter’s performances, she would say, “speak life,” a catchphrase she uses to keep it real, while encouraging others to do the same.
“In 2014, when my mom passed was when I went through this life transition and that was something that shifted me completely,” said Porter. “And as I was dealing with that I was trying to figure out who I was, what’s going on with my life.”
The theme of the night was to love yourself, and, in between her performances, she told the audience to say love yourself because you are beautiful.
“I loved her, she was just so humble and into her pieces,” said Wilson. “She took off her shoes, she took down her hair, she was just really involved in the piece.”
Porter performed many pieces that students reacted to in positive ways. They would hoot, scream or even snap their fingers. She kept her audience on the edge of their seats.
Wilson said she liked a piece called “Black Child” that discussed black children.
“I really like that piece because it just really spoke to how impressionable black children are, how they need that positive mentor and role model in their life,” said Wilson. “To tell them that they’re beautiful and that they’re worthy and each skin tone and each shape is beautiful.”
Porter’s last piece related to her life story and that you should never give up on a passion that you have but to go for it.
“Trust yourselves and follow your heart because the fear is only your doubt, and, if there’s something on our hearts, something that we’re passionate about, something that we came here with a purpose to fulfill, it’s for us,” said Porter. “I gotta love myself, I gotta stay positive, and I gotta know that what I’m going after is there.”
After the event, there was a meet-and-greet. Students received a free shirt and could get it signed by MVP and also purchase MVP’s 2009 album titled “Take Off Your Shoes and Walk With Me.”
“Once more people are walking in their purpose, their gift, whatever is their talent, their art, their passion, that’s what’s going to change the world,” said Porter.