Committing to Conversation is a grassroots engagement initiative envisioned and designed by Lilli Lewis, Label Manager of Louisiana Red Hot Records and member of FAI’s New Orleans Advisory Council, with the wholehearted support of FAI’s staff, board, and Cultural Equity Task Force.
The aim of this initiative is to create and hold space for small scale facilitated conversations about race, cultural equity, and social justice between willing participants invested in the desire to hear and understand each other. The program has a long-term goal of normalizing conversations about systemic racism within our folk music community, fostering a culture of communication across a spectrum of experience, and engaging members in the work of active allyship.
How does it work? Each 90-minute session will be led by a host facilitator who will guide the conversation and hold space for each participant to speak and listen. The conversations will be modeled on The Circle Way, a lightly structured group process designed by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea. Social agreements and practices agreed to at the beginning of the session will help facilitate respectful conversation, with a guardian present to support the host and participants in mindful communication.
Who can participate? The invitation to join is extended to all FAI members, regardless of where they find themselves on their journey of learning about social justice. Those wishing to participate in Committing to Conversation will be required to fill out a Statement of Intent application. FAI and host facilitators will select up to 6 participants for each conversation, and selected participants will be contacted with the meeting link and additional information. If you are interested in participating, please fill out your Statement of Intent and we will be in touch with you.
Who can host? If you are curious about hosting a group and have some background in community facilitation, please contact Treasa Levasseur at email@example.com – we would love to hear from you. FAI encourages applications from all people, especially members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, gender-nonconforming and non-binary persons, womxn, and people with disabilities. An honorarium is provided to conversation hosts in acknowledgment of and gratitude for their labor.
April 6, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with Lilli Lewis
May 4, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with SaulPaul
June 1, 2021 from 3-5 pm CT with Janice Jo Lee
July 6, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with Lilli Lewis
August 3, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with SaulPaul
September 7, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT TBD
October 5, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with Lilli Lewis
November 2, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with SaulPaul
December 7, 2021 from 3-4:30 pm CT with Janice Jo Lee
Our Current Hosts
Three time recipient of OffBeat Magazine’s “Record Label of the Year” while General Manager for long-standing New Orleans’ Louisiana Red Hot Records, singer/composer Lilli Lewis is a frequent music business panelist, production consultant and strong advocate for New Orleans’ musical community. Her ensemble is a self-professed “cult of radical decency,” and of her latest release “We Belong,” DownBeat said: “In a meshing of genres where Lewis’ soulful, r&b-tinged vocals meet impressive arrangements on a panoply of songs, her New Orleans-bred chameleonic dexterity gets brought to the fore.”
As a Singer Songwriter who has deemed himself a Musician with a Message, SaulPaul loves to defy musical categorization and explore the grey area between genres, forging a sound described as “rooted in soulful folk, boosted by hip hop rhythms, cinematic storytelling and ear worm melodies.” For him, an acoustic guitar is the true test of a song’s character. “The goal is to create something timeless,” he says. “If things don ‘t stand up with just an acoustic guitar and vocals, I don’t think they’re worthy of recording.”
SaulPaul has shared his story and his music at 2 TEDx talks, America’s Got Talent as well as the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. As SaulPaul entertains and inspires audiences across the world, he continues to use his platform to promote social good and advocate for youth
Janice Jo Lee
Janice Jo Lee (she/her) is a Canadian folk artist of Korean ancestry. She is a musician, poet, actor, playwright, and educator. She is a hard femme, queer, radical, comedian, truth-teller and trickster. Janice believes in the power of storytelling to build bridges across difference. Janice was born in Toronto on Treaty 13 and Williams Treaty Territory. She formed her early artist career living and organizing in Kitchener-Waterloo, on Haldimand Tract Treaty Territory. In Ontario her artwork has been produced with Green Light Arts, MT Space, Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival, KW Poetry Slam, Theatre Passe Muraille, and fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre. Janice has worked as an educator for 8 years facilitating arts, anti-oppression and leadership workshops across Canada. In 2019 she delivered arts workshops at Victoria Poetry Project, Vancouver Poetry House, Island Mountain Arts, Kwantlen Poetry Project, and Toronto Poetry Slam. She has facilitated anti-oppression workshops at University of Waterloo, Laurier Student Public Interest Research, Laurier Faculty of Social Work and University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work. Janice organizes with Groundings BIPOC Poetry Collective and serves as National Director of speakNorth.