While Dazzle hosted its first jazz performance last weekend and is gearing up for live music again, the venue has teamed up with No Credits Production for "A Conversation About Race" from noon to 2 p.m. this week, with theater impresario donnie l. betts on Tuesday, June 9; multi-genre singer-songwriter JoFoKe on Wednesday, June 10; and J. Clark, whose career focuses on the science of analytics, modeling and finance, on Thursday, June 11.
"[It's for] people who want to come and eat lunch and just talk and get conversations rolling," says Dazzle owner Donald Rossa. "It's just to get everybody talking, and each session will be moderated by somebody. And that person will be on stage and then have dialogue, back and forth."
While Rossa says music will be part of some of the conversations, he doesn't want it to be a hard rule. He hopes the discussions will continue beyond news coverage and social media debates people are having and will give participants a chance to talk about creating change.
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Betts, the founder of City Stage Ensemble and the Denver Black Arts Company, has appeared in The Gospel at Colonus on Broadway, as well as many regional performances, including Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. His theater directing credits include House With No Walls, Citizen and Black With a Capital B, and he's also a skilled facilitator of conversations about race and inclusion, having created programs for History Colorado, area high schools and others. Joining betts will be Doug Good Feather, a Native American musician and descendant of Chief Sitting Bull; Evan Weissman, executive director of Warm Cookies of the Revolution; blues violinist Lionel Young; and soul singer Such.
JoFoKe, who has earned Grammy nominations as a contributing vocalist, performs as a solo artist, with her band aNem, and with Solomon Chapman in their duo project SoJourn. When she's not making music, she advocates for suicide prevention and for removing the stigma attached to mental illness. She and her sister Stacie Alexander founded Count Joy Network, which works to raise awareness about mental health issues and expands access to treatment in the black community. Jazz trumpeter Ron Miles and singers Rajdulari and Kim Dawson will join JoFoKe.
Clark pursued pharmaceutical sciences and molecular neuroscience before starting his work in community development as a director of a local nonprofit that serves underprivileged youth.
As the music community unites to put an end to racism and police violence, these kinds of community-led conversations are more critical than ever. Seating for the all-ages events is limited to fifty people each day, social distancing will be enforced, and guests must wear masks. Box lunches are available for $15. The event will also be streamed online.