Rooted in Michigan

Join us for this one-night-only interactive evening of spoken word and music presented by West Michigan artists. From deeply felt poetry, to a “writers rounds” of storytelling and performance, to an immersive set of music from award-winning vocalist May Erlewine, this evening serves up stories that will move you to tears, laughter, and applause.

Saturday, May 6 | 7:00 PM

9 artists • 1 stage • many art forms

Join us for an evening of bold expression, interactive art, musical performance, and more throughout the SCA Campus. Nine different artists will showcase their talents in various forms inspiring creativity, thoughtfulness, and positive movement. The evening opens with spoken word, builds on visual art and storytelling, and culminates in a celebration of female-centric musicians and a closing performance by May Erlewine.

Here’s what to look forward to:
Headlining performance by award-winning vocalist May Erlewine
Writers Round featuring 4 Michigan, female-led groups
Interview and conversation with professional artist Ruth Crowe
Spoken word by Kelly Witchen

Meet the Artists

May Erlewine

Headlining Performance

One of the Midwest’s most prolific and passionate songwriters, May continues to share her gift for writing songs of substance that feel both new and soulfully familiar. Her lyrics offer a window into her heartbreak, her empowerment, and her emboldened spirit.

These lyrics, which are really stories crafted through May’s unique experiences, are rooted in wisdom, joy, sorrow, simplicity, and love. Musically, she carries the songwriter’s torch through many genres and sonic landscapes. The delicate arrangements seem to land somewhere between the go-to labels, making it difficult to describe and easier to enjoy.

May considers her career in the music industry as a service-oriented one and uses her platform for positive change. She stresses the importance of environmental advocacy, social justice, creative empowerment, and community building as necessary work in our world. May’s body of work has become an anthem and an example of why we need to listen to women, empower women, and why we need to hear their stories.

With a long list of full-length albums and numerous collaborations, May Erlewine’s catalog is proof of her creative power. Her work has been spotlighted by Rolling Stone and NBC’s “The Voice” and covered by countless artists. Erlewine’s last release, “Anyway,” a collaboration with Woody Goss (vulfpeck), showcases her diversity as a singer featuring the newly acclaimed song, “Days Go By.” Her 2017 album. Mother Lion, produced by Tyler Duncan (vulfpeck) and backed by Joe Dart, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss and Joshua Pinkham (Jeremy Kittel), has become an Indie favorite most notably for the empowering single “Never One Thing.”

Among her successes, perhaps her biggest accomplishment is that her music has touched people all over the world. Her words have held solace for weary hearts, offered a light in the darkness, and held a lot of space for the pain and joy of being alive. When she starts to sing, there’s no way around it: welcome in, everyone. The door is wide open.

Ruth Crowe

Visual Artist/Writer - SCA Exhibition Artist

My degree is in Art Education but I never really wanted to teach in a classroom setting. I abandoned my art for over 30 years to pursue a life in the US Army, LA police officer, and collegiate softball coach. I finally made my way back to art when I taught myself Photoshop and started my own graphic design business. Lucky for me, I sold that business after 11 years and now devote my time and energy to creating my own art.

Creating ART is the thing that keeps me grounded. I love vintage photographs and re-telling the stories of the subjects. The snapshots of a split second that capture their lives forever in that instant. The stone faced stares, the cautious smirks, or the joyful laughter that make up our daily existence and speak more about a person that most words could describe.

My work is a fusion of vintage photography that has been digitally altered and combined with layers of other images, photos, and sometimes words. I re-create a new story about the characters; my own story, from my own experiences. I either use regular wood panels or plastered wood panels with layers of wax and images melted within. All designs/photographs used in Photoshop and additional elements added after or before image transfer. My art, along with myself, are works in progress!

Grace Theisen

Writers Round - Singer/Songwriter

Grace Theisen is a Kalamazoo-based independent Blues/Americana artist. Grace’s love for music started in her childhood living room, harmonizing to folk and blues songs with her family. Inspired by a variety of artists from bluegrass/folk singers like Patty Griffin and Alison Krauss to pop artists like Billy Joel and The Beatles to blues artists ranging from B.B. King to Bonnie Raitt.

Grace lived in Nashville, TN from 2015-2018 to run her nonprofit, Songs Against Slavery, full-time. Their mission was to raise awareness and fight sex trafficking in the U.S. through benefit concerts. They ended up raising over $375,000 to aid in the fight.

In that time she opened for Emmylou Harris, played the infamous Bluebird Cafe, participated in songwriter rounds at The Listening Room and opened for Matthew Perryman Jones at The Nashville City Winery.

Grace won Cari Cole’s Best New Artist of 2021 and was named “Artist To Watch” by Michigan’s Local Spins media outlet in January of 2022. In March, she released her 3rd EP, Dance With The Shadows.

Carolyn Koebel

Writers Round - Percussionist

Carolyn Koebel is an in-demand accompanist, educator and music therapist; she has been creating music for silent film soundtracks and modern dance since 1999, most notably with the regional project Blue Dahlia. Since 2012, She has toured mainland China, teaching and performing with renowned flutist Rhonda Larson & Ventus. She is noted for her work with Celtic-world music ensembles Fonn Mor & An Dro, as well as her spirited accompaniment in improvisational world music styles with guitarist/vocalist Elden Kelly, Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Samuel Nalangira, Michigan Hiryu Daiko, and a host of other collaborators.

She has released over 30 recordings of diverse musical styles and continues her work as an adjunct professor of music therapy at Western Michigan University and Saint Mary of the Woods College. She is director of International Percussion at Kalamazoo College.

Sarena Rae

Writers Round - Singer/Songwriter

Sarena Rae is involved as a singer and emcee on events, and through various projects, like the West Michigan cover of “The Chain” that was tracked at Third Coast Recording Company in Grand Haven and performed live at The Jammies XXI, The Michigan Music Alliance’s recording of Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT in honor of Women’s Month, and now a show that she produced and directed entitled Music That Raised Us.

She is a kind-hearted spirit that loves to interact with others on and off stage, sharing her vocal prowess and life story with every performance. For 2020, she brought together some of the area’s finest musicians to realize her first EP, Heaven, to tell her story through three distinct, powerful arrangements. She’s open to sharing her life’s story with the listener through different, memorable song arrangements on her debut release, which is a bold step for any artist to take. She is a lead singer in the band Brena, a vocalist and producer for the Michigan chapter of the International Musicians League, and a Mezzo-soprano in the Grand Rapids Opera Chorus.

The support from the Michigan music community is apparent in those she interacts with off-stage and the roster of artists included on her record. Sarena is known as a former Sunday night host for the Ignite Radio Show on Townsquare Media’s WNWZ Old School and R&B GR’s Magic 104.9 FM, where she curated show topics and interviewed guests. She is also spreading her joyful attitude and love for others in the different side-ventures she explores as well, from planning educational music events in the community to modeling sportswear to career counseling and educating college boards on issues focused on equity. Sarena Rae is definitely poised to make an impression on the greater Michigan community with her talents and passionate drive, so listen to her heartfelt lyricism, follow her exploits online, and keep an eye out for when she rolls into town with a talented band of musicians in tow to support her powerful voice!

Serita's Black Rose Duo

Writers Round - Singer/Songwriter

A self-professed “Funkateer”, and WYCE Jammie Award winning singer Serita Crowley of Serita’s Black Rose from Grand Rapids, Michigan brings a raucous mix of FUNK, ROCK, BLUES, NEO-SOUL, and AMERICANA. Serita, along with her partner Jon Hayes are at it’s core, performing together for nearly two decades. As an acoustic duo, or full band, they play much of the timeless “feel good music” from the 60’s and 70’s along with original music. Her fiery, blues- and soul-infused vocals will reach your heart. You will love Serita’s Black Rose!

Kelly Witchen

Spoken Word

I am a writer. It took me over 36 years to finally call myself that. Years of grappling with imposter syndrome, comparative concessions, and inner saboteurs. So, for me, believing I have a voice and believing I have words to share is the greatest accomplishment I can list here. Forget the publications or events or other things that tend to define us.

I love writing simply for the sake of it, regardless of credit or prestige. I gladly give my words away. Because, even an undercover spark can begin surprising fires.

Thank You To Our Partners

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