There are many captivating voices throughout our world. Each voice provides the listener with an experience that obliges them to sit up, and listen. These voices speak to the setting and experiences of their own individual world. We often look to these voices for guidance about how to respond to our emotions, oppression, joy, or faith. Destiny Hemphill, a poet and student at Duke University, embodies these qualities and more, which makes her voice captivating. There are multiple components to the beauty and enchantment of Destiny’s voice. This exhibit seeks to focus on her use of audience participation, preacher-like presentation, and phrase repetition.
Our captivating voice is a performer, she speaks at open mic events as both an MC and a performer. During her opening duties, she highly encourages audience participation. In the excerpt below, she describes appropriate ways for a listener to show appreciation for a performer. She immediately elicits a response. People in the crowd laugh when she makes a statement about vampires, people who take but do not give back. Then, later in the show, they continue to participate in ways she has described as acceptable. So, it seems, she is immediately creating a platform for the audience to execute their duties of engagement. This same idea, prompting a group of people to be vocal about their appreciation of a subject, is a common practice throughout preaching. As shown in the excerpt below, pastors often encourage their congregation to make noise in their “praise” of God. It’s a form of worship and, therefore, an ideal behavior. Both our captivating voice and the preacher emphasize that participation is a cultural norm in their space of presentation. To truly be a part of the community, listeners must do something to give back and show that they are moved. This is important because it provides backing to the relevance of the necessity of participation.
Outside of her ability to get a body of people to respond to her desires for them, Destiny’s strength as a speaker comes from her ability to present her poems in a preacher-like fashion. In their most basic sense, religious speakers are intended to teach principles to a group of people that grows them close to their greater purpose (which in this case is God). I feel Destiny does just that. In her poems she creates a sort of teaching platform by presenting her own testimony about the dangers of tainted love. She reminds herself, and the audience, of the importance of knowing to whom you belong because it has implications in understanding the immensity of your value. So, the greater purpose of self-realization is presented. Through making an example of herself, she again creates a setting where that change is now acceptable and a cultural norm. She also uses common religious symbols and phrases which further tethers her performance to that of a preacher. In the excerpt below she uses the phrase “I am the daughter of a prophetess and a kingdom”. In the Christian tradition, followers are described as being children of a God who has a kingdom. Furthermore, prophets are people who speak of the future conditions of God’s people. So, to be related to either of these bodies (kingdom or prophetess) would imply an inherent connection with the divine. This divine connection and teaching ability underscore the religious theme which emphasizes Destiny’s abilities.
She also uses repetition technique to emphasize statements, or parts of statements. In the excerpt below, she repeats “don’t you know” at the beginning of a few phrases. This draws attention to the questioning that occurs in one’s mind when trying to understand a hurtful situation. She also repeats “I’m gonna have to run back to myself”. This seems to be a reminder and declaration that she will now become the end goal instead of someone who does not appreciate her worth. This same technique is commonly used in religious settings. In the excerpt below, the pastor repeats the phrase “a good God”. By repeating a phrase, the speaker places an emphasis on its importance. It does not necessarily have to be a new concept. The goodness of God is often spoken of and there is often discussion of self-worth. However, repetition keys the audience to place extra focus on the repeated phrases, which makes the speaker all the more captivating. Repetition also creates a cohesiveness in presentation that creates a sense of intentionality.
Destiny understands the necessity of creating a space where audience members can feel comfortable to interact. She also has a great ability to teach through self experience. Finally, by using a repetition technique, she indicates what ideas should be focused on in any piece of work. These qualities, and more, are what will allow Destiny’s voice to continually captivate audiences
This is an excerpt of our captivating voice, Destiny, explaining the importance of audience participation. She begins with a parody of an audience member who does not participate, comparing them to a vampire: something that takes life but does not give it back. Her explanation causes a small laugh to roll through the audience, showing that they understand the absurdity of that notion. She speaks very casually to the audience, using slang and informal language. She then asks the audience to respond in ways they feel would be appropriate to show appreciation. The audience creates sounds of snaps, yelps, and cheers to which Destiny encourages. She also brings in a spiritual element when she declares that audience members should, "holy ghost stomp" if "the spirit moves [them] to do so". She ends this excerpt by describing this poetry setting as a "community space", further underlining the importance of interaction.
The excerpt begins with Destiny in the middle of her poem. She keeps a quick pace in the beginning of each phrase, then draws the last word out. She expels the expletives quickly and sharply, emphasizing the "ck" sound.This elicits an emotional response from the audience, probably because it required vulnerability and therefore an exertion of energy (as described in the first excerpt). The audience responds as they were told to, with "snaps" and "yeahs". Destiny continues her poem, speaking over the snaps. This form of appreciation is therefore beneficial because it is not very loud, and can allow the performer to continue while still feeling audience support.
This is an excerpt of a female Pastor in a Christian church encouraging audience members to be comfortable with audible responses of praise. It begins with the sound of an organ playing. In the pauses between organ phrases, Janet begins her encouragement. She begins with requiring an acknowledgment of the community, asking the audience to speak to their neighbors. Then, there is a statement that audible praise is the social norm. She speaks with an identifiable rhythm and draws out certain notes in a song like manner, ending her lengthy phrases with a sort of vibrato. This musicality is further emphasized by the organ accompaniment.
This excerpt begins with the poetic-trait of audience snapping in the background. She then makes declarative statements about her value and where her lineage lies, being the "daughter of a prophetess and a kingdom". Both prophets and kingdoms are staple terms in many religious parables and stories.This statement clearly enunciates these symbols, which further underscores the dignity within them. She then describes how a lover obscured her understanding of who she was. Self reflection in a "mirror" helped her realize that her relationship was causing her pain. With this description, she emphasizes the adjectives of pain, and begins to build speed in her delivery. She uses force and an upward enunciation on the long o sounds, such as "too" and "you". Both the speed and emphasis create a sense of hurry for the listener. She ends the poem with understanding that this love stopped her from acknowledging her true value as being "enough". This concept of sufficiency is also common throughout religious themes.
This piece exists with an even tone and pace. The first two lines both begin with the phrase "don’t you know". The poet repeats it, creating an emphasis for the listeners. The repetition continues with the phrase "I'm gonna have to run back to myself". This portion is repeated, but at a faster pace. There is, again, an emphasis on the long o sounds, tying the poem to its earlier components shown in the previous excerpt. Repetition is again used with the word "break". This creates a sense of struggle for self-rediscovery. This idea of repetition forces the audience to pay attention to a certain idea or phrase and place a greater meaning on it.
This excerpt begins with the organ ringing in, followed by a declaration from the pastor. She speaks of the goodness of God, with a heavy rasp on the end of her phrase. She tells the audience to participate in agreement by clapping their hands. The organ continues to play in the background in, seemingly, one long note. She repeats the phrase “a good God” three times with the same enunciation, accenting and drawing out the last word. She finishes her declaration with a fourth repetition of the phrase with a focus on “good”. This seems to point out both the divinity and good nature of God.