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jessica Care moore: art personified

2024 Classical Roots Marlowe Stoudamire Award Recipient

Detroit is the starting line of the world’s imagination. We are always shaping, moving, cultivating what's next... ”

- jessica Care moore, poet; We Were Born Moving

There was a shift in Detroit when Marlowe Stoudamire passed in 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. His presence in the city as the owner and operator of Butterfly Effect Detroit—a consulting boutique that operated to empower the city with community and business-driven projects—set a blueprint for effective collaboration and taking ideas from vision to fruition.  

He was a champion for Detroit, and Detroit championed him.  

To continue lifting Marlowe's legacy in Detroit and honor his significant service as a former DSO Classical Roots Steering Committee member, the Marlowe Stoudamire Award for Innovation and Community Collaboration was created in 2021. The award amplifies the importance of putting foot to pavement and doing the work required to create a connected and collaborative community across Detroit. Recipients of the award are individuals who embody what Stoudamire represented as an institution-builder, leader, change agent, and connector in the city.  

“If you knew Marlowe, you know that Marlowe was about access and exposure for everybody,” expresses Valencia Stoudamire, wife of Marlowe. “I think this award allows us to do that; allows us to acknowledge our hometown heroes and individuals that I think Marlowe would be proud of—those who’ve made an impact and represent Detroit globally.”  

The 2024 Stoudamire Award recipient is world-renowned poet, playwright, and cultural arts curator jessica Care moore.  

“I cried when I got the call from Erik [Rönmark, DSO President and CEO],” said moore. “It was emotional, and I got chills in my body because to get an award in this brother’s name is meaningful in a different kind of way. He was an advocate for artists like me, Sabrina Nelson, Sydney James, and others that were doing things in the city that some people didn’t always pay attention to. It’s one thing to gain attention, but it’s another to get real support, love, and resources, and enter a conversation about connecting the dots. He was an entity on the scene; he is very missed.”

moore's artistry propelled her onto the global stage, where her words impact souls and inspire listeners to feel and think deeply. Her poems—performed live or read on the page—come with a fiery and passionate delivery that calls for social justice; advocates for Black women and Black bodies; honors Black art and artists; and lifts Detroit—in all its grit, glory, and resilience—to the fullest.

“Rebellious cities never had it too easy,” moore recites in her poem You May Not Know My Detroit. And the truth is, her journey reflects the city's characteristic of being a phoenix—rising—and finding a way to make things happen, regardless of obstacles and any lack.  

“Not having it easy builds character, calls for strong personalities, builds heart, grit, and tenacity; these things that keep families and cities alive,” she expresses. “(In the ‘90s) I was forced to figure out how to put art in different spaces that weren’t traditional art spaces. I was the poet that grabs the mic at a hip-hop open mic—a very male-dominated space. There is no limit; that’s Detroit.”  

That bold confidence has carried her as she travels from state to state, liberating minds with her tireless energy, spirit, and power of the spoken word.

moore’s poetry graces the fourth floor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and can be read in books under her Moore Black Press publishing house, in partnership with Harper Collins.

In the music realm, she joined forces with vocalist Steffanie Christi’an to form We Are Scorpio—a rock band fused with poetry. Her role as executive producer of Black WOMEN Rock!, affectionately referred to as Daughters of Betty, following the passing of funk vocalist Betty Davis in 2022, and development plans for The Moore Art House—a non-profit organization dedicated to using poetry and the arts to elevate literacy and connectivity amongst artists in neighborhoods and schools—are only a few testaments to her expanding legacy.  

jessica Care moore's artistic palette is endless, with the root of it all being a commitment to empowering community and creating spaces—traditional and non—for artists to thrive and see their works acknowledged.

“Artist life is not for the faint of heart," said moore. "And I like to be connected to art and artists in a tangible way, because I like collaboration and institution building.” 

Standing on the shoulders of poetic royalty Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Gil Scott-Heron, the Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, and Ntozake Shange, jessica Care moore is conscious of the depths and responsibility she holds. 

“I come from a tradition of Black, revolutionary poets; that's a heavy lift and I’m working hard to do very big things that inspire a lot of people,” said moore. “It’s never easy. The intention is really to empower community.” 

46th Annual Classical Roots Concert

March 1 and 2

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