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Gibbes Museum of Art to Host First Ever Hip-Hop Concert



Press Release

The Gibbes Museum of Art will host a hip-hop concert to mark the conclusion of their momentous special exhibition Romare Bearden: Abstraction. “Improvised: A Hip-Hop Experience,” the first ever hip-hop concert held by the museum, will take place on Friday, January 7th, 2022 at 6 pm, ahead of the exhibition closing on January 9th. Hosted by local on-air personality Kris Kaylin, the concert will feature local and emerging artists Mike Brown, Benny Starr, and Alayssa Thomas, whose performances will be responses to the works in the Romare Bearden exhibition.

“Many artists are influenced by the music of their time,” says Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “In the case of the abstract expressionists of the mid-20th century, that music was Jazz. Improvisational and expressive, it inspired Jackson Pollack and Romare Bearden alike. At the Gibbes, we see hip-hop as an extension of that improvisational tradition and are thrilled to be hosting this contemporary and engaging program to conclude our exhibition.”

Romare Bearden: Abstraction is a major traveling exhibition, organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, SUNY, presenting important works from American artist Romare Bearden. The exhibit features 55 paintings, works on paper and collages and it is the first exhibition to fully examine and contextualize the artist’s significant body of abstract work. Romare Bearden: Abstraction emphasizes the importance of abstraction in the artist’s works, its significant contribution to the overall Bearden narrative and marks the artist’s place within the New York avant-garde of the 1950s-60s.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for students with valid ID and can be found here.

About the artists

Mike Brown is an artist, business owner, and leader in the music industry. A Charleston native, Brown was named the 2020 Soul/R&B Artist of the Year by Charleston City Paper. He owns his own record company, MB Productions, and recently released a solo album in 2020. Some artists that influence Brown’s music include Earth, Wind & Fire, Kendrick Lamar and producer and composer Quincy Jones.

Benny Starr’s music intersects hip-hop, gospel, jazz, blues and rock woven with rich history, resiliency and storytelling. The Lowcountry artist released his most recent solo project, “A Water Album,” on Juneteenth 2019 with his bandmates, The Four20s. Starr has many accolades, including being recognized in Oxford American’s annual southern music issue, performing as the first hip-hop artist at Spoleto Festival USA, partnering with Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, and being awarded “South Carolina’s Best Album” in 2019 by the Free Times. Currently, Starr serves as the US Water Alliance’s inaugural One Water Artist-in-Residence, and most recently, he was named one of Grist’s 50 Fixers of 2021.

Alayssa Thomas is a writer and acclaimed spoken word poet. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, she started writing at the young age of eight. Fusing her rhythmic flow with an assortment of instrumentals gives her work a wholly unique sound. Alayssa is also the author of the poetry collection “Why Women Cry…” (2019) and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Kris Kaylin, a multi-media maven located in Charleston, will host the event. She can be heard on Z93 Jamz as The Weekend Diva. Her interviews with Megan Thee Stallion, Kanye West and 50 Cent have gone viral, with over 1 million views. She’s been featured on TMZ, Billboard and Complex Magazine to name a few. Kris Kaylin does voice work on Charlamange tha God’s “Tha God’s Honest Truth” on Comedy Central.

The event’s poster art (above) was designed by CONCEPT RXCH, a Charleston native who hails from West Ashley. RXCH is a southern gem with an abstract mind who loves art and culture. He creates striking images that highlight a variety of themes and concepts. Some of RXCH’s biggest influences include Italian artist Caravaggio (1571-1610) and South Carolina’s own Jonathan Green (b. 1955), whose works feature different stylistic approaches.

To learn more about this event, visit

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