Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Marva Whitney built a name for herself singing background vocals for the legendary James Brown and went on to become one of Funk R&B’s most revered divas. Eugene Smiley, a highly respected R&B musician in his own right, and friend of Whitney, will give an informal presentation regarding her life and contributions. The afternoon will include a discussion of Whitney’s memoir, God, The Devil, and James Brown and a listening party in which several local DJs will spin Whitney’s music which has been sampled extensively by the hip hop community.
Named after one of Kansas City's most outstanding African American poets, the Mbembe Milton Smith Poetry Series focuses on the work of poets who are using poetry as a vehicle to correct distorted depictions of African American history or to shed light on otherwise overlooked historical African American figures or events. The inaugural session will feature Frank X Walker, the state of Kentucky's first black Poet Laureate and winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.