LaShawn Woolridge, who performs under the name "Poe Anonymous", is a writer, actor, songstress, and poet who has just graduated from Winthrop University. While there, in addition to her work in theatre, she founded the organization Winthrop Def Poets Society.
Def Poets Society, a community for students that are passionate about the spoken word, held a college tour this year called Souls n Substance with events at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, as well as Winthrop University.
Poe Anonymous will be performing as the featured artist in the Charlotte, North Carolina area over the next few weeks at these locations:
Sunday, November 22nd
3:00pm - 9:00pm
5401 Village Drive, NW
Concord, North Carolina
Monday, November 23rd
300 East Morehead Street
Charlotte, North Carolina
Thursday, November 26th
3306 North Davidson Boulevard
Charlotte, North Carolina
Tuesday, January 5th
1635 West Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina
So come out for good food, spirits with old and new friends while enjoying some intellectual stimulation.
Read the interview below to learn more about LaShawn.
You're appearing at several venues around Charlotte between now and the holidays. Tell me about these appearances and how they came about.
LaShawn When an artist is a "feature," that means their talents will be highlighted during the open mic/show. Typically a feature lasts about 20-30 minutes. I've been an avid spoken word artist in the Charlotte area for a year now. (Also, I have recently began to perform with instruments. I sing and play the ukulele and guitar. )
I have networked with hosts such as JC, JstJah,Shane, Sirabtraxxx, Pinnacle the Poet, and Hannah Abdul-Awwal. They are a few of the incredibly talented artists I have met in Charlotte and who have helped shape me into a stronger artist myself.
My first feature was October 29th at Upstage hosted by JC. It has been my goal to do so since the very first time I performed there in 2014. It even inspired me to found my own organization at Winthrop University which I named "Def Poets Society".
Long story short, news is getting around that I am moving at the end of the year. So some hosts of these poetry spots have extended me the opportunity to be feature at their events/venues, which is really exciting!
I assume that when you play you have written your own songs. Which came first, poetry or songwriting?
LaShawn I perform original spoken word pieces. I have done covers of other songs on my ukulele and guitar, by artists such as Lianne La Havas, Yuna, Sara Bareilles, Nirvana, and Frank Ocean. I have cowritten a song with Katrina The Artist. And I have written original songs as well, that I have yet to perform.
The cover songs you perform, do you make them your own in some way?
LaShawn Most of the songs I cover are intended for other instruments such as an acoustic guitar or a piano. Those are the ones I play on my baby blue ukulele. I add original instrumental breaks into the songs as well.
When singing, do you perform as a solo act or are you joined by other musicians?
LaShawn I usually perform solo. However, next week at The Wine Up, I will have the priviledge to be accompanied by a band.
I'm still growing into my voice. I do sing well, I have even had solo singing parts in theater musicals. However, I am not very loud. So I enjoy simple instrumentation that complements my voice and kind of gets the audience involved into the melody.
Which came first, poetry or music?
LaShawn Music. I listen to just about every genre. My dad is a DJ in his spare time, so passion for music is ingrained in me. I even have a tattoo symbolizing it. I began writing poetry when I was 8, but I have always easily caught in to music and the different layers there are to it.
Who are some of the people you get your inspiration from?
LaShawn Shel Silverstein, Gil Scott Heron, Mos Def, Maya Angelou, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Langston Hughes. My father gave me a book of poems by Maya Angelou when I was 7, and I picked up Shel Silverstein when I was 8. He is my favorite. I feel more influenced by Maya and Langston, however. I also grew up watching Def Poetry Jam on HBO.
I know you are also an actor. Will you tell us a little about that?
LaShawn Yes. I have always been passionate about theater as well. I love the story lines and psychological aspects to understanding a variety of characters and situations, motives and results. Etc. I recently graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in English and Theater. . . My first play was when I was 12, directors visited my middle school and picked out students from my music class. It was a play about the holocaust. What really hit me though was the opportunity to meet holocaust survivors and have them witness the play "Brundibar" the affect it had on them was very moving and inspired me to keep performing. Theater has always stuck with me.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
LaShawn I am pursuing the screenwriting and publishing field while continuing to find new venues and events to perform spoken word at. My material and network has greatly increased recently. I am excited to continue growing.
You have been writing scipts for films?
LaShawn No, but it is a field I intend to pursue. I love working on dialogue and storylines.
You are very creative and I sense the written and spoken word is your calling. Your thoughts and advice for those passionate about their art?
LaShawn My advice is to express something everyday through some sort of creative outlet. Art is enlightening, empowering, and insightful. Art is a working salvation. Creating art isn't easy, nor is it for everyone to pursue as an active lifestyle or career, but it is necessary and it is powerful. So artists must create.
I have performed when venues were empty and packed. But when you perform from a place of personal growth, as an artist you Can only get better. So persevere and be consistent. Eventually it will be less about what you are creating and more about how art is shaping you and the audiences you encounter.
You can contact Lashawn at: