The First Annual 206 Zulu Gala
On Saturday November 5th, 206 Zulu is an organization that caught my eye when I first visited Pongo’s office in the historic Washington Hall building on 14th Ave. 206 Zulu works to empower local communities ranging from youth, low income and people of color in the Seattle region by providing free access to creative resources like studio recording and arts programs. Washington Hall has been a cultural home for marginalized communities since it was built in 1908. The building has historically served as a welcoming place for those entertainers forbidden from performing at other venues to perform on stage.
This 206 Gala 2017 was the first of its kind, a way for the organization to raise funds and provide an opportunity for attendees to network with each other. This event was not one that I was expecting to go to. Through the generous contribution of Pongo founder, Richard Gold, my fiancé and I were able to attend the 206 Zulu Gala. The event started with a cocktail hour of mingling and open bar in the lobby and then moved into the upstairs auditorium for the dinner and speaker portion. During the cocktail hour I was able to meet Daniel “King Khazm” Kongita, the passionate founder of 206 Zulu, he and Kitty Wu fearlessly ran this organization.
Delicious Food and Inspirational Discourse
To my surprise, the food was incredible, I wasn’t expecting such a gourmet meal from a non-profit music organization. The caterer, Goals Kitchen, served a spectacular meal of jerk chicken with sweet potato stew over white rice with truffle mac n cheese. The meal was a perfect accompaniment to the round-table banquet space with an open bar. The black tie dinner was a perfect opener to the speakers, I was able to really enjoy what each speaker had to say after the delicious meal.
The lineup of speakers, from activists to musicians and even professors, were not only informative but also entertaining and inspiring. James Croone Sr., a professor at Northwest university (where I’m currently enrolled in progress of attaining my ministry degree), spoke about his first time performing in Washington Hall as a part of the group Emerald Street Boys as a 16 year old teen. Washington Hall continued to be a space that welcomed people of all races and ages to develop creatively, it provided a positive outlet for young people and was a home, a hub of entertainment, to many.
I saw this trend thread through all of the speakers.
It was refreshing to see Kabibi Monie again. I’d first met her at my first mayafa that I had been invited to by Kim, owner of Headwraps by Kim, at the Fall Black Arts Love festival. Kabibi had organized the mayafa in response to the series of state sanctioned violent attacks that resulted in the deaths of Black men and women across the country. I didn’t even know what to expect, but after the mayafa I’d realized that women like Kabibi were revolutionary. During the Gala I learned about Washington Hall’s impact on Kabibi, as a young women she told as that working at this venue saved her life. After the venue was closed, she dedicated herself to finding another creative space for marginalized communities, now she is the founder of the Nu Black Arts Theatre which began in over 22 years ago.
We could see the same thread over young entertainers like rapper, Xola Malik “Kid Sensation” who performed one of his singles to the crowd. He, through his participation with 206 Zulu, was able to record his music, network with other entertainers and develop his performance skills. He lit up the stage especially during a portion of his lyrics that were completely performed in Spanish, although I couldn’t completely translate every word I could feel his power and emotion. Music performances translate power when the performer has the ability to transfer their emotion and Kid Sensation did that better than any other young person I’ve seen on stage, his parents smiled filming him a few tables behind me. I could see the pride on their faces.
Raising Funds while Learning About Seattle’s Hip Hop History
Following the speakers was a paddle raise, hosted by auctioneer Sharon Friel, donations ranged from $500 to $25. It was incredible to see how many individuals and organizations contributed to the growth and development of 206 Zulu. I also contributed, it’s important that marginalized voices have access to music and audio production equipment and 206 Zulu does this for our communities at no cost which can only been done through fundraising and volunteer contribution. We must show our support for organizations like 206 Zulu by contributing especially at wonderful events like these where we’re able to connect with other collaborative organizations and meet students and veterans whose lives have been positively impacted by the their programs.
As apart of attending this event I was able to learn so much more about Seattle’s hip hop history and culture than I have from any other event before. Being from Detroit, it’s easy for me to familiarize myself with East cost music culture and dismiss others, whereas Seattle has a very contrasting story being much newer to the hip hop scene. Seattle Hip Hop artists like Sir Mix a lot and Nasty Nez populated the hip hop scene with their talent filled record label, Nasty Mix records. At the end of the night NastyMix Records was a presented with the 206 Zulu Vanguard award for their contribution to hip hop. They opened the door for young pacific north westerners to create a voice, catering to the region while also stretching far beyond. To support or learn more about 206 Zulu visit their site: http://www.206zulu.org/category/news/
To my surprise all of the attendees were given a black gift bag that included an assortment of items wrapped in black gift paper:
- A Washington State shaped 206 Zulu Gala pin
- a CD collection of 19 tracks produced by King Khazm & Dume41
- a Black beaded 206zulu necklace
- a 206zulu black logo button pin
- a black 206 zulu logo writing pen
- a bookmark with their upcoming events and sponsors