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DEI Spotlight Events - February 2022

Hip Hop and the Blues

Carly Harvey, Rapper/DJ Combo: Raw Poetic and DamuOn Thursday evening, February 24th, the Ernst Center Theater on Annandale’s Campus echoed with music as blues singer Carly Harvey and rapper/DJ combo Raw Poetic and Damu entertained NOVA faculty, staff, and students in an Office of DEI Spotlight Event titled “Hip Hop and the Blues.”

The event, one of the many at NOVA in celebration of Black History Month, began with a video from NOVA president Dr. Kress, who introduced the evening and invoked the words of jazz legend (and Raw Poetic’s uncle) Archie Shepp: “The black experience in music has become something else, as much poetry as it is musical expression. And tonight’s performance will bring this powerful observation to life.” Her remarks were followed by a brief welcome from Annandale Campus Provost Dr. Diane Mucci, who introduced the musicians.

Carly Harvey opened the evening with a rousing, soulful pair of songs that showcased the complexity of different blues chord structures. She was accompanied by guitarist Patrick Fritz whom, astonishingly, she’d only met a half-hour earlier, and who had come to the event to perform with Raw Poetic and Damu. Their inspired collaboration introduced those in attendance to the excitement of improvisation, and showcased the dexterity and versatility of both musicians.

Raw Poetic and Damu took the stage after Ms. Harvey finished and treated the audience to their thoughtful, introspective music. In addition to Raw Poetic’s alternately meditative or rapid-fire lyrics, and Damu’s mixing, the pair were joined on-stage by Mr. Fritz, and even incorporated Maracas in their songs.

The performances were followed by a discussion about music, and some of the challenges faced by African American musicians today. Ms. Harvey discussed a Rolling Stone article that had caused controversy in the blues scene, one that highlighted how often blues festivals feature white musicians, despite the prevalence of African American pioneers in the genre. Similarly, Raw Poetic and Damu both touched on the positives and negatives of hip hop’s surging popularity and mainstream placement, and how their own music has reacted to those changes. The musicians also discussed how they tapped into the emotions of their song, the occasional despondency that immersion can produce, and how their music, while trapping, is also ultimately freeing.

“Hip Hop and the Blues” was presented by the Office of DEI and the Annandale Campus through a grant from the Micron Foundation. To view a recording of this event (NOTE: this recording is only available for enrolled students and NOVA faculty and staff), visit Click Academic Resources, then SSO Login, log in, and scroll down to DEI-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

DEI Spotlight Events are held monthly. For information about other programs by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, please visit, or contact Dr. Nathan Carter at