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Common rocks the house

by PRIDE Newsdesk

by Shiloh Long

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, better known as Common, is one of the most influential and multi-faceted artists of our time. As an award-winning hip-hop artist, film producer, poet, actor and activist, the rapper (formerly known as Common Sense) has gained critical acclaim and maintained an underground following since his rise in the late 1990s. He achieved mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. The Soulquarians were a rotating collective of experimental Black music artists active during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

For the past few years, Common has dedicated hours of his time to social justice and advocacy work with mass incarceration, mental health and voting. After the success and impact of his ‘Imagine Justice’ concert in 2017, and his Hope & Redemption Tour to eight different prisons, Common decided to establish and launch ‘Imagine Justice’ as a new nonprofit in 2018. Centered at the intersection of art and activism, Imagine Justice is dedicated to leveraging the power of art to advocate for communities around the country, fighting for justice and equality—standing united against injustice wherever it appears.

Through his Common Ground Foundation, Common is dedicated to empowering high school students from underserved communities to become future leaders. The foundation operates educational programs in Chicago that focus on character development, healthy living, financial literacy, social impact, technology, and leadership. The programs include mentoring and college readiness, summer camp, and an annual Youth Business and Leadership Conference. The foundation students have a 100% graduation rate from high school.

On Friday, October 6, Common was in the building. Which building, you ask? The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, in downtown Nashville, where he performed a selection of songs from his classic catalog, alongside the Nashville Symphony. He rocked the house from the front to the back, and somewhere in between. Crowd participation was a must, because he included audience members into his soliloquy—whether it was dancing, singing, clapping, or rapping.

“I’m grateful to be performing with the Nashville Symphony and Johnathan Rush (conductor). It elevates the music,” Common was quoted as saying, days before the event. “That musicianship comes to life in a new way when we have a symphony. I’m excited about bringing the dimensions and dynamics that we will get with the symphony. I know how much Nashville loves music and the multi-cultural aspects of it. Having Black people come and experience this is a beautiful thing.”

This special showcase of his biggest hits did not disappoint. It definitely lived up to the hype. People were joyful, and the energy was electric.

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