Wednesday, April 12, 2017

4/12/17 A Safe House For Soul Written By Dexter Kendrick

The Singer's Lounge:
A Safe House for Soul

                Written by Dexter Kendrick

Picture a city divided musically. Where rock, pop, and country showcases have the red carpet rolled out for them, and are received by venue after venue with open arms. A city where R&B/Soul is labeled “urban” and met with unreturned phone calls, outright rejection, and encouraged to take backdoor deals like making good use of karaoke night. A city where the music climate's 'separate but equal' practices give rise to “urban” events having to endure providing their own chairs and tables for their audience, not being offered a written contract to be able to secure a regular space to perform, and given last minute ultimatums in regard to the venue's terms of operation in an attempt to sabotage it's continued success. Picture the indie music scene in Harrisburg, PA.

Now picture it's saving grace, The Singer's Lounge: Open Mic Experience. An event that was born out of necessity, and has become a movement. A musically inspired journey into the pain and yearnings of previously unheard and striving R&B/Soul artists in the central PA area. No matter which venue this lounge stops at on it's journey to liberate the indie soul of Harrisburg, that venue for however long, is home. It's conductor, Airis Smallwood, is afraid. Even after her Singer's Lounge has provided a steady 14 months of continuous monthly live performances to audiences of 300+ in attendance, she is still keenly aware that “urban” entertainment in Harrisburg city is wanted: dead or alive. Yet Airis cannot stop just because obstacles may arise in an attempt to deter her from her dream of bringing a quality R&B/Soul showcase to a city that didn't know it was in need until it had arrived. She must feel her fear, and push through anyway.

The next stop on the lounge's musical journey is I.W. Abel Hall on Gibson st in Steelton, PA. Complete with live band, background singers, and a stellar lineup of performers ready to bare all on stage to this month's theme of Neo-Soul selections. The Singer's Lounge April show will take place on the 4th Sunday (April 23rd) due to the Easter holiday, and will resume it's regular 3rd Sunday schedule thereafter. A routinely scheduled event that it's fans have come to anticipate monthly. On finding refuge at this the lounge's third location since it's 2016 inception Airis states, “[The Singer's Lounge] needs a permanent home venue that shares our vision for giving a platform to the R&B/Soul of this city, and we will not just settle for it's scraps.” Proving that while R&B/Soul in Harrisburg may be considered underground by some, it is alive and well.

Don't miss the next installment of the Singer's Lounge April 23rd!

Dexter Kendrick is a correspondent for and is a lover of all things indie.  He can be reached at

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  1. On our visit to this place, we mostly stayed downstairs, where the beer and liquor selection was quite admirable. The staff at San Francisco event venues really pride themselves on the beers and food they have.

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