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Soul Night combines resilience and creativity to celebrate Black community


Ndidi Nwosu / Thresher

By Juliana Lightsey     2/23/24 9:03pm

A one-night-only cultural showcase, Soul Night reflects the artistry and creative lexicon of Rice’s Black Student Association. This year’s showcase is award show-themed, combining music, dance, spoken word and fashion in the form of a narrative musical. The show takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24 in Hamman Hall. Tickets are $10 and include a pre-show dinner at 5 p.m.

According to Spencer Rembert, a Soul Night coordinator, the theme for this year’s showcase draws inspiration from the 2006 movie “Dreamgirls,” which follows an R&B music trio of Black women in the 1960s. Rembert, a Brown College sophomore, has worked alongside co-coordinator Avalon Hogans for the past year to bring the BSA’s annual event to fruition, while also including their own creative touches.

“I would say what makes it different this year is the storyline.” Hogans, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said. “It’s a narrative jukebox musical, so that’s something new we’re looking forward to.”

Rembert and Hogans have been working on this year’s showcase since they were elected as coordinators last year. Both have creative directing experience to draw upon: Hogans directed the BSA’s fashion show “Out of Bounds” last month, and Rembert served as stage director for last year’s showcase. Beyond the logistical responsibilities of managing the show’s budget, recruiting videographers and holding auditions, Rembert said that executing he and Hogans’ creative vision proved to be the most important concern.

“We’re two artistic people, so we wanted to be innovative,” Rembert said. “Over the summer the [award show] idea stemmed from watching the ‘Dreamgirls’ movie. We knew we wanted a cohesive storyline, and it was just a matter of getting all hands on deck.”

Around 5o people are involved in the execution of this year’s Soul Night, according to Hogans. Performers auditioned for the show in October of last semester, and the coordinators worked to modify their storyline and characters in order to best accommodate the performers they selected.

“We revamped the script afterwards to make it more inclusive,” Rembert said. “We wanted this process to be as easy as possible for everyone … and also as creative and showing of everyone’s talents.”

This year’s show emphasizes the hard work and dedication that must accompany recognition and success as Black individuals, according to Rembert. Such qualities were essential throughout the production process, which entailed three rehearsals a week and many late hours. 

“This production focuses on sacrifice, empathy and power,” Rembert said. “In order for us to be great, the rules are different, the rules have always been skewed … but if we put in our full effort and energy, we can look back on it and say it was worth it. 

“One of the lines in the show is, ‘What are you willing to sacrifice for freedom?’ and I think that encapsulates how we got here today.”

Soul Night also serves as the culmination of “Soul Week,” a BSA tradition of events and activities in the week preceding the showcase. Wednesday’s activities featured a Black visual art showcase at the Multicultural Center, and BSA hosted Soul Night Pub on Thursday at 10 p.m.

Both the coordinators said they hope that this year’s Soul Night is an enriching and informative experience for everyone involved, serving as a reminder of the talented and diverse student population surrounding them.

“I’m hoping one key takeaway will be seeing just how talented and creative and dedicated the Black community at Rice is,” Hogans said. “The whole point of this show every year is to celebrate and give voice to that community.”

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