PRN Open Mic Spreads Hope
Words and photos by: Shane Manier
I was at an open mic tonight, down at the Promise Resources Network on Hawthorne Lane when something extraordinary happened.
A buddy of mine Patrick works there and had set up an open mic night on the last Tuesday of the month as a platform for people in recovery and those in transition from being homeless. He figured it would be a way to bridge the gap between the contrast of lives and help with recovering. I’m all in favor of art for a good cause so I made my way down at 7:30 pm and took my seat.
Powerful and moving, it definitely was.
People from all walks of life were there to share a bit of heart and testimony. The open mic consisted of moving blues, gospel singing, folk guitar, a spanish guitarist, poetry, a comedy skit, some testimonies of what the person had been through, a short story with painted
pictures and even a “musical” re enactment of “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid where they had makeshift props for the performance. The entire night was packed with soul, laughter, empowerment, and loads of love. It was getting close to 9:30pm right before the end when it happened…
I was just daydreaming about drinking wine, painting Flamenco women while listening to Spanish guitar and trying to figure out how I would do all this while working on my own musical improv piece when Patrick asked if anyone wanted to come up a second time to close the night out, and an older man who had previously sung an oldies tune said he would go. When the man started singing, about 3 words in I realized something. I had seen this man before!
Not only that… we had hung out! I was featuring at a place in NoDa one night about a year ago when this homeless man had come up and asked my boyfriend to play guitar while he sang to make some money. Well we had a little bit of time to kill, so why not? This man had actually busked with us before!
As he san
g a praise song that seemed to be coming from a different world, suddenly I became a stone in a river of souls. It was like I zoned out, and everything else was just moving while I was still. It was like a circle connecting in front of me. It felt like I was in a movie.
I realized something…Ya’ll…I’m alive…
…and so is this man… and in this whole time since last we met I have lost my Mother, my best friend to death, my Brother’s house had burnt down and he lost everything except his family, and God only knows what this man singing in front of me now has been through since. But he’s here… and I’m here, and suddenly the room itself is singing, ringing all these stories off it’s walls, and suddenly it’s like you realize how little control you have over the current but you still have the power to swim, to keep your head up to see amazing wonders when they happen, like light painting pictures through the trees, little morse code messages – like a song of overcoming hardships, yall… we are alive…
And here with each other, you, me, him, each of us. That’s a testimony. That’s a reason to sing, to spit some poetry, to paint, to laugh, to love. Do something to celebrate how far you have come, or the possibility of where you can go because this journey ain’t over.
It gets better.
We made it since yesterday.
We can make it tomorrow.
We will make it. Together.
*Promise Resource Network, Inc. was started in 2006 in Charlotte, NC as Mecklenburg’s PROMISE to embrace all people and create opportunities for wellness, healing, and transformation. PRN is a peer-run organization that employs people in recovery to partner with individuals, families, communities and organizations to advance recovery from emotional distress, mental health and substance use challenges. PRN’s services are contributing to the development of a recovery-oriented behavioral health system where recovery is valued, expected, supported and funded.
You can check out their services or make a donation here.