Excerpt from CS Mag Cover Story
Here is an excerpt from the CS Mag Cover Story, March 2008. I'll post the full version of the article in June.
Hear Me Say…
by: Amy Jacobs
Spoken word artist Amena Brown finds her voice in unlikely places
“Are you a night owl?” Amena Brown asked as we exchanged a string of e-mails in hopes of finding time to talk. She’s a night owl – and there’s good reason. Amena juggles work as a spoken word artist, a music journalist, a poet, and still manages to hold down a corporate America day job. So, a phone interview at 11:00 p.m. was a matter of necessity – quite frankly, there aren’t enough hours in Amena’s day.
While we spoke at length, Amena probably should have been packing her bags for the back-to-back conferences where she would be speaking and performing during the next few days. Instead she gave me her undivided attention as she told me what it is to be Amena Brown.
BEYOND THE RHYME
Amena is most commonly known for worshipful poetry she’s written and performed at gatherings such as Passion and LeadNow conferences. Her gift for spoken word led her into the thick of ministry, but that was never Amena’s intention. She simply loved poetry, and was willing to walk through each door God opened.
Amena’s mother instilled in her a love for words, and from a young age she found writing to be her greatest form of self-expression. Years later, as she sat in Atlanta coffee bars and clubs, Amena was exposed to a world of performance poetry that changed her life. “I encountered so many people who are great poets. I heard people who are darn good at what they do, people who knew how to say what they wanted to say. I was inspired,” she shares.
Week after week as she looked around the places she went to hear poetry, she saw people crammed into rooms, shoulder to shoulder. Amena noticed that the audience came seeking something – they wanted to hear truth. The topic didn’t matter as long as someone spoke with conviction and talked about the truth of his or her life. “When I realized that’s why people come to these clubs, I remember telling God that I wanted to go into rooms like this and share who He is,” Amena recalls. “Maybe the audience would identify with it and eventually respect that it’s true.”
Although she comes from a heritage of ministry, Amena never had any ambition of performing in church. In her world, people who performed spoken word did it for the love of poetry. Sure she might write a piece of poetry about God, but she would perform it where all the poets were, not necessarily for a congregation of believers.
Today, most of Amena’s Christian audiences want to hear her poems, and lately she’s been asked to perform and lead breakout sessions at conferences. “From what they hear, they think I’m a worship leader,” Amena says. In her eyes, she’s far from being a worship leader. She’s just sharing a gift God has given her, and she’s as likely to do that in a smoky bar as a church.