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FunTimes Magazine

Word up!: Books and Song

Jan 30, 2024 03:00PM ● By FunTimes Staff

Author Lavonne Nichols Photo by Laura Elam

FunTimes Magazine 
“Culture + Entertainment” column, week of January 29, 2024


Great writing is like great music; it sings through the magic of harmony and rhythm. This week’s events reflect the transformative power of books and music. And when it comes to evocative literature and song, there are no cons, just prose. But don’t forget: When event-going, please take precautions, especially when in groups and indoors, with the current COVID variants and other infectious health threats on the rise. Check with the event organizers about their safety protocols, and also any changes due to inclement weather. 



Author-songstress Lavonne Nichols. Photo by Laura Elam


It’s an open mic and an open book for Lavonne Nichols


Tuesday, February 6, 2024. Fresh off of her dazzling recent release party featuring her brand new EP and book, Uncaged, Lavonne Nichols will return to World Café Live to headline Philly Rising Open Mic. The singer-author, who moonlights as a multimedia event host for FunTimes, will bring her upbeat energy and songs to center stage. Open Mic will give a taste of Nichols’ expressive anthems inspired by gospel, R&B, and Afrobeat undertones. Her melodies embody messages of faith, hope, and healing echoed in a companion project -- her self-help book. Her page-turner does not skip a beat, tackling serious topics such as abusive relationships. Drawing from her expertise in trauma-informed coaching, Nichols puts on her literary cap, offering effective methods for overcoming trauma, building inner strength, and finding lasting happiness. Get step-by-step guidance on how to heal, grow into a more empowered version of yourself, and ultimately live a fulfilling life. The power of her words and music promises to harmonize in one voice at Open Mic. Free but register. Doors open at 6 p.m. EST; show time: 8 p.m. EST. The Lounge at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400 or

Author Michele Norris / Host Tamala Edwards

Tuesday, January 30, 2024. Do a deep dive into racial relations at Our Hidden Conversations: What Americans Think About Race and Identity– a conversation with 6abc’s Tamala Edwards and author Michele Norris, the former co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. Norris has been a special contributor for National Geographic, Time magazine, ABC News, and Lifetime Television. She has received Emmy and Peabody awards for her national news coverage of 9/11, and also the Dupont and Goldsmith Awards. In 2009, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Norris created The Race Card Project, which encourages conversation about race in America. Her family memoir, The Grace of Silence. Our Hidden Conversations examines a decade of personal stories collected as part of The Race Card Project. The event is part of the Free Library’s Author Events program. Pay as you wish. Register in advance, 7:30 p.m. EST. Books will be available to buy; a book signing will follow the presentation and conversation. Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St. 215-686-5403 or

Author Kiley Reid / Critic Niela Orr 

Writer Kiley Reid goes to college in ‘Come and Get It’

Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Engage in an enlightening conversation with best-selling author Kiley Reid, as she discusses her current novel, Come and Get It. The book focuses on wealth, bad behavior, and indelicacy. It examines race and class, chronicling “an ambitious University of Arkansas resident assistant and her tangled relationships with a professor and three boisterous students.” Reid is an accomplished author. Her 2019 novel, Such a Fun Age, is about a young Black babysitter, who was falsely accused of kidnapping a white child. The book is a New York Times bestseller, a Reese’s Book Club Pick, and it was named one of the best books of the year by a host of publications. Reid teaches writing at the University of Michigan. The program for Come and Get It will be moderated by Niela Orr, a New York Times Magazine editor and critic whose work has appeared in The London Review of Books, The Paris Review, and The Believer. Reid’s books will be available to buy, with a book signing after the presentation. $17.50 & $38, register in advance, 7:30 p.m. EST. Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St. 215-686-5403 or


Photo courtesy of Mighty Writers


Getting kids’ creative juices flowing


Parents: If you are looking for constructive activities for your kids, look no further than ArtMazing Journaling, one of Mighty Writers’ creative literacy programs. With numerous neighborhood offices in Philadelphia and New Jersey, the nonprofit’s goal is to teach kids to think clearly and write with clarity. Kids get to practice many exercises like playing art and poetry games, dabbling with art supplies, and developing a scrapbook-style art journal. Write poems in a group or alone. Who is the next poet Langston Hughes or artist Henry Ossawa Tanner? Enjoy art therapy techniques and social-emotional learning. ArtMazing Journaling is for ages 6 to 14. Check out the journaling class and other programs focusing on architecture, science, and music. E-mail:[email protected] or




Turn the corner…


Wednesday, January 31, 2024. This may be your lucky day. Corners to Connection Wellness & Employment Fair can help establish a new and improved you in 2024, professionally speaking. Meet more than 30 representatives from the world of employment, vocational training, and healthcare. Network while getting valuable information and resources about health and wellness. The event is hosted by TaylorMade Opportunities, a faith-based nonprofit focused on mentoring, education, and advocacy. Free, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Dare To Imagine Church, 6610 Anderson St. E-mail: [email protected].



Gentrification and ‘Broken Dreams’

Saturday, February 3, 2024. Check out a screening and discussion of Philadelphia artist James E. Dupree’s documentary, Broken Dreams. The one-hour film features Dupree and the Mantua community in Philadelphia, as they face the downside of development, urban planning, and gentrification created by nearby universities. The film depicts how these issues affected Dupree’s art studio, which was seized through the government’s eminent domain process. Following the screening, engage in a discussion with Dupree, his former assistant Abigail Henry, and co-director, Tyrone Brown. The film was directed by Brown and Joe Sapienza. In addition to the film, there is a companion exhibit: a blog post. (No closed captioning is available.) Free, 2 p.m. EST. Parkway Central Library/Montgomery Auditorium, 1901 Vine St. 215-686-5403 or




A customized lullaby


Saturday, February 3, 2024. Help create a song, especially for your child at the Philadelphia Lullaby Project Celebration Concert. Enjoy an evening of songs and stories through the Philadelphia Lullaby Project, a program in which parents or caregivers team up with professional musicians to birth an original song for your child. Songs written over the last year will be performed by accomplished Philadelphia musicians, with gu
est performances by family participants. The program is a collaboration of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, Musicopia, and the William Penn Foundation. Free but register in advance, 4 p.m. EST, Commonwealth Plaza/Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St. 215-893-1999 or