On a similar note, I live (by choice) in Memphis––a city challenged by crime, crushing poverty and troubled schools––yet filled with heart, soul and innovation.
Dee “Ms. Dee-Lite” Dotson and Tim “T-Remedi” Dotson, founders of Inner City South (ICS) are heart, soul and innovation personified, using humor and poetry for change.
In 2002, ICS emerged from Memphis’ underground spoken word movement, delivering thought-provoking messages in humor-filled, hip-hop-infused, “southern swagger” style. It’s not just clever rhyme set to modern rhythm. It’s poetry that matters.
Scientists tell us that our brains release endorphins when we laugh, and that humor helps us to see the world from different perspectives.
Dee Dotson explains their poetic performances like this: “We like to say we’re going to edu-tain you, meaning that we’re going to sneak a little thought process in with the entertainment. If we can make you laugh, we’re disarming you. You’ll want to listen, and we’re taking you off your guard. That’s how we draw the audience in without sounding self-righteous. We want to use the art to elevate and bring unity.”
Tim Dotson adds, “There’s no better healing than laughter. The healing from laughter can take you so many places. Even if you laugh in your pain, it’s still a way we attach to each other. We may have some serious subject matter, but we want you to feel encouraged when you leave the performance.”
But the Dotsons’ mission goes beyond writing and performing. In 2004, they founded “Dinner and Divas” – a dinner theatre experience that represents their support toward finding a cure, and providing social services to those suffering with sickle cell anemia. In 2010, they established C.R.E.A.T.E. (Changing Realities Exposing Art To Everyone) to give urban and lower income communities access to the arts.
They make regular appearances in a variety of venues ranging from elementary schools to college campuses to arts centers. Their material is accessible, universal and relevant to all ages, but their core audience is teens, since, as Tim puts it, “They’re at the cusp of what they’re about to do.”
In a world filled with anger and divisiveness, it’s refreshing to see unifying poetry with well-crafted humor . . . and an edge!