We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie Dawson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jamie, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
When I started out with poetry my mentor Walter “Wally B” Jennings shared a piece of advice that I’ve followed to this day. He said, “Do the work, and it will show. Don’t do the work… and it will show.” When it comes to our goals and dreams we all have choices to make. We can think up great ideas and then wait for something to happen, or we can take small steps every single day to keep getting closer to our dreams. The right time is always right now. In physics “work” is a product of force and displacement. That is to say, unless you are giving energy and making movement, there is no work being done. The best way to attract the people, pieces and progress you need is to start. Putting in the work speaks volumes, speaks louder than any plan on paper or complex vision. Doing the work has helped me succeed. Taking the first step without being perfectly certain of how the end will pan out has helped me overcome the procrastination and perfectionism that often stalls brilliant minds and keeps all the genius on the inside. It takes a lot of trust to take this mindset. It requires intuition and alignment, grace and steadfastness to know that it will all work out. But I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and it’s brought me not only accomplishments, but strong relationships. The habit of doing the work and letting it show, and having that be my standard is the foundation of my success.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a spoken word poet and interdisciplinary performance artist. My focus is on words, storytelling, and the ways each can be embodied and accentuated to allow the listener to feel and to suspend the audience in an experience. I combine tools and techniques I’ve learned throughout years of dance, theater, and chorus to maximize a moment and command stage presence. I believe that when we perform there is so much at our disposal. We have to try to connect. Someone may not have lived the story I’m telling, but they may recognize the tone, relate to a song or relate to the way that I say it. My art is different because of these intentions. And they don’t just stand for the stage, they go for my pen as well. Being not just a spoken word artist, but also a poet who makes decisions that aid the story and expression I want to convey. Metaphors are for a reason, alliteration for a reason, imagery for a reason, wordplay for a reason. If I find a device that makes sense for the piece but that I’m no good at, looks like it’s time for me to study it more and get it right, not just rely on what I’m already good at.

That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today. Consistency and challenge. I’ve continued to put myself in the workshops that strengthen my writing or performance. Try things that were outside of my comfort zone yet still provided something new artistically. I chuckle at some of the endeavors. I’ve done dance troupe, I’ve rapped, I’ve acted in musicals. Currently at the end of the day as a spoken word artist it’s just me and my microphone on stage. But having worked with a director, having interned with the center for performing arts, having had the experience of being in a cast and performing someone else’s words, it’s like I’ve given myself a mini masterclass in all these little subskills and subsets of giving a good show.

It wasn’t easy. At times I feel out of place. Not quite sure if I learned enough. Or my favorite, sometimes I learned something through another artform that showed me that what I had been doing for years likely wasn’t as effective as I thought it had been. I want to tell great stories and give people an experience that leaves them better than when they walked into the room. It’s a big task. Authenticity has gotten me over every challenge. Authenticity doesn’t mean that there aren’t mistakes, rather it means that I can’t be ashamed or think less of myself because of the mistakes because they came from a moment and process that was authentically me.

Truthfully that’s also how I’ve learned the most about my brand. If I don’t connect in a room but I felt great and made choices true to myself, I just might need a different room. Sometimes people use art to have fun, release and not think about anything else. On the contrary, my art is designed to open people up to new experiences, make them think deeply about society, and initiate a journey of emotional introspection. It’s not for everybody all the time, but it’s for everyone at least once when they need it the most.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Okay! So first and foremost I am all about community and having a good time while vibing high. I like to show people places they can drop the mask, where we can be our best selves and be loved for that as everyone else does the same. So I’m talking art shows, open mics, features WITH the table for the extra hospitality flare. Wherever my friends are popping out to, me and bestie are there I’m talking Famous 4th Sundays with Queen Sheba where no doubt another friend is lined up to blaze the stage down with their feature. And making time to catch my favorites at their shows nd features across the city Xavier CoolKid, Dequadray, Petty Wap and Georgia Me if they are popping out with shows.

Then in the before time or in between time we’d have a chill and intimate time. We’d visit L5P shop, drink juices and take our pics. We’d go to Centennial Park. I love the fountains and the area right at sunset. Tap in at Putt Shack also for pics and a one of a kind time. Then wash, rinse and repeat for as many days as we can handle!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my Shoutout to Heard Em Say Youth Arts Collective in Tampa. FL. And specifically its founder and executive director during my time in its tutelage Walter “Wally B” Jennings. Any time I shout them out they send back the energy and credit me for being a good student. But truthfully the way Heard Em Say operated gave me a standard to uphold and look up to. I dedicated myself so hard because the mentors and coaches around me excelled and sacrificed for years so we could learn, grow, express ourselves, have community, and be youth with voices. I’m trying to tell y’all. Every single Saturday during slam season for 4 hours a day. Every single last Friday of the month. And these people had jobs, had families, had their own poetry to write and memorize, own teams to coach. It all feels so superhuman. But that let’s me know that it truly all was divine. Thank you to Heard Em Say, Wally B, my coaches, my teammates, our guests and all those audiences for being present, obedient and faithful. I could not be here without any of it.

Website: https://www.dawsontheartist.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dawsontheartist/?hl=en

Image Credits
Aliza Rand (for Black Box photos)

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