Champaign County, March 2020 and Counting
Sounds Like Community as a Response to Covid-19
June 30, 7 – 10pm, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, “Sounds Like Community” live stream
live streaming on SOUNDS LIKE COMMUNITY and
in person at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
202 S Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
Champaign County March 2020 and Counting combines a 52-minute audio and video performance documentary created specifically for Viral Silence with archival material from the past year, live commentary and interviews, and live performances from some of the cast members. Keith Moore and Ibrahim Ouedraogo will conduct three recording sessions—April 24, May 8, and May 15—with local musicians, poets, and artists at the Independent Media Center and ask what Sounds Like Community meant to them in the first year of the pandemic, and what their hopes and desires are for the arts and the community in the year ahead. The live and recorded program will air on June 30 from 7-10pm on WRFU 104.5, the internet live stream “Sounds Like Community, and the IMC television broadcast “VVAM!”, which is produced in collaboration with Urbana Public Television (UPTV).
Guests in the documentary range from Will Reger and Ashanti Files, Urbana’s first two poet laureates, to the Writer’s Oya, a group of young poets of color, to DJ Cerbo and Khalil, a father and son hip hop duo, and to community members like Aaron “A+” Wilson, who is poet, musician, and host of the renowned community poetry slam “Soul on Sunday.” Wilson’s appearance is suggestive of the documentary’s range, as we see him reading new work, discussing his personal life and appearances on the show, and reflecting on his own efforts to reestablish his monthly poetry slam online.
Sounds Like Community is a pandemic response live stream program that brings a diverse array of community artists and activists together with the public each week for two sets of performances and presentations followed by an open discussion. The show is also broadcast over the airwaves in central Illinois on WRFU 104.5. It’s first episode launched two weeks after the Governor Pritzker’s shutdown order in March 2020. Now entering its second year of programming Sounds Like Community has chronicled the city’s response to the crisis and was the forum in which many artists made their first pandemic era appearance.
VVAM! (Keith Moore and Bourema “Ibrahim” Ouedraogo) in collaboration with The Writers of Oya and the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
Keith Moore is a composer and sound artist, writer, curator, and community-media maker currently based in Urbana, Illinois. Keith uses the fields of acoustics and psychoacoustics to compose expressive and conceptually rich works that compel listeners to consider the beauty and breadth of perception itself. He has collaborated with numerous distinguished organizations such as musikFabrik WDR (Cologne), Ensemble de l’itinéraire (Paris), Ensemble Modern and the International Ensemble Modern Academy (Frankfurt), PRISM Quartet (NYC), Talujon Percussion (NYC), Ensemble 21 (NYC), and soloists including Tomas Bächli (Berlin), Karen Bentley Pollick (CO), Kevin Boyer (London), Maja Cerar (NYC), Juliana Snapper (LA), Taimur Sullivan (Chicago) and Kelland Thomas (Hoboken). In addition to creating original compositions Keith Moore pursues his research through writing, performance, curating and teaching.
Bourema “Ibrahim” Ouedraogo is a founder of VVAM!, on the production team of Urbana Public Television, and the owner of Global Visual Media Studio. He is married with two children and has lived in the US for the past ten years. He began engaged-community building in his home country of Burkina Faso, where he worked in community, arts, and cultural preservation; and he has continued that effort in Illinois as a board member and now active volunteer at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.
About the documentary Champaign County: March 2020 and Counting… “Sounds Like Community” as a Response to COVID-19
Production began in February 2021. New filming sessions for the documentary with the Writers of Oya and other guests and producers involved with “Sounds Like Community” took place May 22, May 23, and June 1, with more sessions scheduled in the following weeks. The Writers of Oya interviewing guests and producers from Sounds Like Community, include the young poets Camille, Kayla, Yallah, Danyla, Ezra, Shakura, Achly, and and their mentor, Ashanti Files, 2021 Urbana Poet Laureate.
The guests and producers associated with Sounds Like Community who were interviewed for the documentary include:
Ja Nelle Davenport Pleasure, Karthik Kakarala, Stuart Levy, Karen Medina, DJ BJ Clark, Ashanti Files, Susan Parenti, Danielle Chynoweth, Drake Materre, Patrick Murphy, Miriam Larson, Camille Files, Kayla Files, Will Reger, Cosmic Charlie, Aaron A+ Wilson
Vision and Voice Amplified through Media
VVAM! | Vision and Voice Amplified through Media is an audio visual production team founded by Keith Moore and Bourema Ouedraogo dedicated to documenting community voices that pursue economic, environmental, racial, and social justice through art or activism.
VVAM! began producing documentaries about mission aligned activities at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center in May of 2021. An early goal was to make high quality audio visual documentation of local and rapidly unfolding artistic and activist activity available to the general public during the coronavirus shutdown. Working in collaboration with Nick Goodell VVAM! also began a series of interviews with individuals connected to CCARC | the Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition. Summer 2021 in Urbana-Champaign was a period of powerful protest, brought forth by frustration over the murder of George Floyd, the arrest of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis, and a history of unresolved local racial profiling, including the murder of Kiwane Carrington. The VVAM! | CCARC interviews explored many of the groups and individuals that came together that summer as a powerful local force for social change.
VVAM! content was first made available on the UC IMC’s YouTube Channel, and later presented in a weekly program on UPTV | Urbana Public Television. These partners continue to provide the main media outlets for VVAM! content.
Ashanti Files and The Writers of Oya
Poetry is an echo of what the heart senses. While emotions are difficult to put into words, the art and craft of poetry is my attempt to do justice to the heart by reaching the minds of others.
Ashanti Files is a Registered Nurse by trade, a wife by choice and a mother by fortune. Her poetry reveals her trials and triumphs as a woman of color. It explores social and political issues as well as love, sensuality, mental health and the struggle to live life on her terms. Ashanti has Bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and Nursing. She is a McNair Scholar, Poet Laureate for the City of Urbana, and a Martha’s Vineyard Voices of Color Poet Fellow. Find out more about Ashanti at http://www.mytruenorthartistry.com
The Writers of Oya project aims to teach middle school girls, particularly girls of color, how to compose poetry as a skill to both express and assert themselves. The Writers of Oya has a 3-step process that includes:
• Immersion in an environment that creates confidence, self reflection, and self exploration.
• Learning the art of Slam poetry including composition, speech, and performance strategies.
• Participating in community poetry slams performing pieces created during our sessions.
Writers of Oya’s first poetry compilation, Unmasked, came out in February 2021. It contains reflections and thoughts from the participants. For more information and to order a copy of Unmasked, please visit The Writers of Oya webpage.
The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center Foundation (UCIMC) is a grassroots organization that supports the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and promotes empowerment and expression through media and arts education. The UCIMC was founded in 2000 by a collective of artists and activists who wanted to democratize access to arts and media production in the wake of media consolidation and the defunding of the arts. Racial and economic divides were widening, and our creative community was stifled by the limited ability of media outlets to present local artists.
The UCIMC founders aimed to invent the space, resources, and atmosphere to draw artists and community members together to investigate local problems and design solutions. We envisioned a center where collaboration, cross pollination, and serendipitous interaction were encouraged; where youth could participate in a creative “third space” as an alternative to home or school; where consumers could be producers; and where the power of media, art, and narrative to transform our community could be realized.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.