Target Area Development Corp. Hosts Community Open Mic Night in Auburn Gresham

Target Area Development Corp. Director of Education Nakiya Walters takes the stage to perform an original song at the organization’s open mic event in Auburn Gresham. (Photo Credit: Kelcey McKinney)

More than 75 people packed out an event space at the AFC World Outreach Center for a community open mic night on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 in Auburn Gresham. The program was hosted by Target Area Development Corp. as a part of Light in the Night, a Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) event series aimed at reclaiming public spaces.

Community members showcased their talent and creativity for all to see, as 15 performers hit the stage during the two-hour event. Singers, rappers, poets, and dancers of all ages took their time in the spotlight as an enthusiastic audience cheered from the crowd.

The musical roster for the evening included renditions of Tony Terry’s “With You,” Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky,” Sevyn Streeter’s “Before I Do,” and OutKast’s “Prototype.” Several participants also performed original works, including Target Area Director of Education Nakiya Walters.

“One of the ways I found my outlet was in music and I know there are so many people who we serve who have unconventional talents that they feel stuck in,” Walters said, noting that the open mic was her brainchild.

“We want to connect them with things that will uplift them and get them out of the risks that they face in their lives. Music is something that really feeds their soul and gives them a community that they seek.”

Throughout the evening, attendees enjoyed food and drinks, as well as a raffle with prizes. Target Area External Operations Manager and Light in the Night Coordinator Brent Johnson explained that events like the open mic night give the community a chance to connect with one another, relax, and express joy.

“It’s important because our youth and our community is hurting, so the events give them an opportunity to enjoy themselves,” Johnson said. “Kids get to be kids. Adults get to watch their kids play, and they also get an opportunity to enjoy themselves.”

As they look to fall, Johnson added that Target Area is planning to host other family-friendly programming, such as a bingo night, community festival, and several Halloween events.

Nina Boston, a local resident and first-time Light in the Night attendee, praised Target Area for hosting such events and giving her neighbors an opportunity to uplift one another.

“It’s a positive event and community-based. It’s got a real positive vibe,” Boston said. “People are doing things that they’re talented at and expressing themselves, and I enjoy that everyone is supporting.

“This gives them other options than just hanging out on the corner. It gives them a positive outlet to express themselves through music, poetry, whatever it is that they see fit. A lot of those things are missing from our neighborhoods, and it’s a free event.”

Target Area Development Corp. is one of 13 Chicago organizations representing CP4P, a coalition of non-profit organizations focused on gun violence prevention across 27 Chicago neighborhoods.

To learn more about upcoming Light in the Night events, check the calendar here.

Musical trio Ancestral Family Business perform an original song. (Photo Credit: Kelcey McKinney)