By Devan Strebing
Hendricks County Flyer
The annual Spirit & Place Festival kicks off its 19th year with “Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art,” a Signature Series event, at 7 p.m. April 3 at the Christian Theological Seminary Shelton Auditorium, 1000 W. 42nd St.
Indianapolis-based “spoken-word” poet, emcee and human beat box Tony Styxx will be performing alongside critically acclaimed alternative musician Ryan Lott, and visual and conceptual artist Kathryn Armstrong of the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life. They will perform an acoustic show during an evening of performance, presentations and conversation that will explore the transformative power of the arts.
The 19th annual Spirit & Place Festival explores the theme of “JOURNEY” in 2014. The “JOURNEY” between “here” and “there” is filled with movement and meaning. How is this movement shaping — and being shaped by — identity, spirituality, and civic life? From the instruments of mobility in all its forms (education, money, waterways, trails, bus lines, bike lanes, etc.), to the reasons (quality of life, pilgrimage, self-expression, community development, health, persecution, etc.), “JOURNEY” will explore the dynamic passages of people, places, and ideas.
The 2014 festival will explore these and other topics through performances, exhibits, workshops, panel discussions, and other innovative programs that bring people together across the boundaries of difference.
Styxx graduated from Broadripple High School in 2006 and has been interested in entertainment since he was 4. He started writing short stories and poems in middle school, and performed in front of his peers as a freshman in school plays and the classroom.
He became a poet and a writer in 2007 when he met someone who took him under his wing and discovered his talents while he was competing against a group of poets.
“From 2007 to 2009, I built my presence on the poetry scene,” Styxx said. “In 2007 I became a traditional hip hop artist; putting out mix tapes, and a few projects. In 2011, LONEgevity, a producer, said he liked me and we got together.”
That turned into a lot of features with poetry and hip hop blended together.
In 2013 he performed at Tedx.
On Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 of this year, Styxx performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
“People went nuts about that show,” he said. “It was a sold out show — the first sold out show I ever did. Everything has been cloud nine and up since then. Every show after I’ll go to if it’s for a great cause and a benefit to both me and your organization; money has never been a main focus.”
He said there are people who he never imagined would want to work with him not wanting to. He has been a part of many local shows.
“It’s a bittersweet thing; no more open mics, my career has taken me beyond open mics,” he said. “It’s a blessing; there are plenty of other performers in the city. I’m in a gauntlet of amazing emcees and poets; it’s humbling and mind boggling I got picked. I made myself stand out now and I’m appreciative.”
Styxx has traveled to Cincinnati, Chicago, New York, Kentucky and Texas performing his hip hop and poetry.
“They are two different entities; both carry the same weight,” he said. “The poetry is influenced by hip hop. My delivery has a cadence. It’s more storytelling than theatrical. I have a lot of energy, flavor, intelligence … I make you smile, frown, I want to evoke emotion. I break that wall down. I want to make you feel something. If you were sad, I want to make you happy. I want to take you on this roller coaster with me.”
Styxx says he doesn’t do what he does for himself. It’s a therapy for himself, a release, but he does it for others.
“I’ve got my troubles but there is somebody out there who doesn’t have a place to stay at all, struggling to get by,” he said. “I do this for the person looked at in the face and laughed at, people telling them they can’t reach their goal …I’ve been laughed at … I want to do this so I can reach people a lot better. My gift is to heal, to make people want to do better. Your potential only has a ceiling when you put one there.”
Styxx hopes to inspire others, especially young people, to tell them that they have a choice.
“Impossible only exists when you accept the fact that it is,” he said. “Impossible is ‘I’m possible’ pushed together.”
After this event on April 3, Styxx will be at Indiana State University on April 17, will perform at a benefit for a non-profit April 18 and will be in Broadripple April 19 performing for an album release of a local hip hop group.
For more information about Tony Styxx, find him at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tony-Styxx/110038942419088 on Facebook, https://twitter.com/Tony_Styxx on Twitter, and view his first album at http://tonystyxx.bandcamp.com/ and https://soundcloud.com/tony-styxx.
Tickets for the "Lanterns Raised" event are $15 and are available online at www.cts.edu/lanterns or at the door.
Flat 12 Bierwerks and snacks will be available beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Spirit & Place Festival catalyzes civic engagement and enduring change through creative collaborations among the arts, religion, and humanities. Spirit & Place is a collaborative community project managed by The Polis Center, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.
For more information, call 278-3623 or visit the website at www.spiritandplace.org. This year’s festival takes place Nov. 7-16.