Lil’s World: The Soapbox Presents An Indoors Event At Kente Royal Gallery

December 1, 2023

By Lil Nickelson

On Saturday, November 18th, 2023, I attended the first intimate indoor event sponsored by The Soapbox Presents titled, “Welcome In: For Love and Blackness,” in Harlem, NY.

The event was held at Kente Royal Gallery located at 2373 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., in Harlem and began at 7pm. Its was a free event just like their awesome outdoor events, but this event was so intimate and cozy in comparison to their legendary outdoor events that fill an entire city block.

The evening began with those lucky enough to secure Eventbrite tickets coming into the Kente Royal Gallery being greeted by the owners, Phyllis and Dodji Gbedemah, and the  artwork that adorned the three walls of gallery space was that of multi-faceted artist Ricky Day. Ricky Day is a Harlem, NY-based photographer, filmmaker, and media personality working primarily with themes related to identity, pop culture, and the African American experience. “For Love and Blackness” is Ricky’s first solo exhibition in New York City that runs from November 3rd until November 30th, 2023. Ricky is also the host of the engaging and inspiring weekly podcast, “Nothing to Lose but Yourself.”

Fellow podcaster, Ja’nell N. Ajani (@jaynajani), sat and spoke to Ricky Day (@rickyday) about the three series on display represents the artist’s interest in black love, he is absolutely in love with us, in particular black fathers displaying their love for the children, joy, Americana and queerness, all in one space. He brings his spirituality, his creativity, integrity, and an infectiously positive and calming spirit to his artwork and as well as to his interactions with his subjects.

Four spoken word artists, Anyrah Shaveh (@iamshaveh), Gabriel Ramirez (@ramirezpoet), Felicia Cade (@risefelicia), and Malcolm Wicks (@lifeofwicks) were given equal time and they each were given two turns to get up on the soapbox to present their prose to the audience, and each were memorable in their own unique way. Touching on a variety of topics from relationship blues, death and dying, trying to set good examples for their children, and speaking their truth with the boundaries they have set in life help to mesmerize and tantalize the audience as they spoke their truths.

I love meeting people like The Soapbox Presents founder Marija Juliette Abney. I’ve attended their outdoor concerts for the last 3 years ever since she conceived us getting together in community through our love of music as a way to soothe the hurt when George Floyd was murdered before our eyes over and over again. She came to NYC as a young lady at 16 years old from Columbia, South Carolina to pursue her passion for dance, performing and acting and she hit it on the mark. To date, she’s done 3 Broadway shows (The Lion King, After Midnight, and The Cher Show), 2 Avenger movies, and 2 Black Panthers films. She came, she honed her craftsmanship and now she’s spreading Southern love, and hospitality for all, all over the streets of Harlem and New York City. New York City we need to get ready because Marija has only just begun. Look at for all and all of the artists featured at “Welcome In: For Love and Blackness.”

Lil Nickelson

Lil Nickelson is a Senior Consultant with an MBA degree focused on Finance and Financial Management Services from New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Skilled in sales, management, business development, marketing strategy, and social media, with a history of working in the food and beverages industry. Her column “Dining with Miss Lil” has been featured in Harlem newspapers and with Harlem World Magazine for numerous years.

Photo credits: Photo by Nikeea Thomas. 1) Marija Abney and Lil Nickelson. 2) The Soapbox Presents soapbox. 3) Marija leaving the soapbox surrounded by artists highlighted that evening.

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