Last year we sat down with Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics creator Jabari Graham and curator Dwayne “Dubelyoo” Wright to get a better understanding of the show’s genesis. What began as a simple idea when Graham was 25 years old has manifested into a traveling roadshow, making stops all over the country and featuring artists who were, at the time, considered up-and-coming such as Rapsody and Kendrick Lamar.
Since then, Graham and Wright have continued to take Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics to new heights while staying true to its purpose of making diverse art forms more accessible while showcasing all levels of talent. This year, we even got further insight into what it’s like to be a part of the show from two of this year’s featured artists Shawn Stewart and Big K.R.I.T. “Each year, we look to improve the experience of the show by seeking out new artists and innovative ways to keep the show fresh,” Wright adds.
Having both been in their respective crafts for 20+ years, Graham and Wright seem to have now gotten Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics down to a science, but that doesn’t mean the show is an easy feat. The duo notes, “We put on a one-night-only show. Within 18 hours, the setup, show, and breakdown are completed.” But of course, it’s all worth it in the end, or as Graham has realized, “To see something that was once an idea I wrote in my business journal come to life is pretty dope!”
From its conception to its setup, we caught up with Graham and Wright below to get some more behind-the-scenes insight into the creation of Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics.
How did you first become involved with Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics?
Graham: I created Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics when I was 25 years old. I was laid off and during that time I thought to myself, I can either look for a job or create a job. Worst case, I could always go live back home with my mom. So I took a risk, created a career, and 17 years later it has paid off. I am now 42 years old and I must say, it’s been a great journey thus far.
Wright: Jabari invited me to be an artist in the first Art, Beats & Lyrics show, which was held at a bar in Atlanta. Due to the positive response from the first show, we decided to collaborate on a show at a local museum. The museum was unprepared for the thousands of visitors who arrived, and eventually, it was forced to close its doors. Years later, the show was able to be pitched to Jack Daniel’s because of the buzz it generated from that night. Since then, we've been traveling.
Could you tell us about some of your most memorable experiences from putting the show together over the years?
Graham: As someone who is from Atlanta, and who is also a huge Falcons fan, it was doing Art, Beats & Lyrics at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics was actually one of the first events to christen that stadium. It was magical for me. Even writing out the check to the MBS to book the venue was a historical moment! It was one of those nights I just had to sit back and take it all in – which I rarely do.
Wright: There have been so many experiences over the years. I think just being the only art events to host at one NFL stadium, one NBA arena, three MLB parks, two college arenas, two museums, and two active train stations is pretty cool.
What are the major differences between Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics versus other shows you've helped curate?
Graham + Wright: The main aspects that separate Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics from other art events are its scalabilities and visual impact that we have. We design the show to be reconfigured to fit a variety of spaces. Also, there are no white walls in our show — we use the walls to help create an environment for art on them.
What are the most challenging aspects of what you do in your role?
Graham + Wright: We put on a one-night-only show. Within 18 hours, the setup, show, and breakdown are completed. There are a lot of moving parts, which can be challenging, but we have a great group of people on our crew, as well as the Jack Daniel's team who help bring everything together.
What's been the most rewarding part of curating this experience?
Graham: The most rewarding part is when the installation is up and the event has just begun. It is amazing to walk around and see people's reactions to something we’ve created. To see something that was once an idea I wrote in my business journal come to life is pretty dope!
Wright: Hearing artists and attendees talk about their experiences at the show and how Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics has affected them is the most rewarding part of this process. It's nice to know that people are enjoying the art, having a good time, and leaving inspired after each show.
What do you want to see happening at future Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics events?
Graham: I definitely want to take Jack Honey Art, Beats & Lyrics abroad to other countries.
Wright: In the future, I would like to see both a book and documentary made that tells the story of our unique show.
For more behind-the-scenes looks into this year's Art, Beats & Lyrics show, check out the video below on featured artists Big K.R.I.T and Shawn Stewart.