Michaela supports BLACK ICE at SPOKEN

8 Apr


As I’m sure you’ll all already know, on Friday I supported BLACK ICE THE POET in Amsterdam City Theatre at an event called SPOKEN.

I get off the plane, I meet a lovely lady called Christa who greets me with a smile, she works for both RAEN (the company that produces SPOKEN) and for Universal Music. She escorts me from the airport to my hotel, we talk about various things and she makes me feel comfortable.

I get to my hotel, the guy at the front desk seems to have forgotten that sometimes people will want to stay in his rooms. He has a suspicious look in his eyes. He says something along the lines of “welcome to Amsterdam, if you want toothpaste, or shower gel it’s not free, you can buy it from the machine or the shop across the road and if you want an iron you have to come down here and use it”. His eyes follow me as if he’s forgotten that the room I’m staying in has been paid for. I take the lift up.

I go into my room. It’s nice, so I decide to forget about the housekeeper. It’s already 6.30pm and I’m on at 9pm so I go over my lines constantly..I’m doing a new poem tonight, it’s called HITS & KISSES, wrote it a few days ago and I hardly know it. I contemplate sticking with ones I already know well enough; the last thing I wanna do is embarrass myself on stage with BLACK ICE witnessing the entire shambles in the wings..but I ignore my thoughts, and keep trying to learn Hits & Kisses. My armpits are stinging with nerves. Nope- that’s B.O- I shower. 30 minutes till I’m picked up.

30 minutes later. I’m in the taxi with Black Ice and his lady. He is warm, friendly, bright eyed and smiling. He’s currently based in Antwerp (Belgium) but lives in Philadelphia, I say how badly I want to live in Philly, he talks about how much he loves Europe…our conversation is easy and he seems so relaxed considering he is about to headline a show, he even has time to give me advice: part of which was about believing in myself enough to stick this poetry/music thing out until it becomes a full time career that I control independently. It’s rare that I’m touched, and I’m so stubborn that unfortunately it is also rare that I learn anything- he taught me, and seeing the team he’d formed with his lady touched me. He hasn’t even performed yet.

We get to the venue, the theatre is BEAUTIFUL, it’s big and posh and red and gold. My armpits begin to sting again, I don’t have time to find out the cause of it this time as a beautiful lady in a black suit looking like she means business gently hugs me with a relieved “you’re here”; her name is Linda, she tells me I’m on in 15 minutes. My armpits are burning holes through my black blazer. I run my flat leather lace up boots to the wings and wait back stage. Dutch hip hop artist Brain Power is coming to the end of his performance, and I’m peed that I missed BANG BANG. Black Ice is smiling in the wings. I’m still stunned at how he can smile at this time. I’m frantically repeating the lines of Hits & Kisses whilst having a mental bitch fight with that thought telling me to stick to poems I know.

SPOKEN is one of the biggest, if not the biggest poetry/spoken word/hip hop nights in Amsterdam. My first ever gig in Holland was for the same event but for a special night they had in Rotterdam…Spoken is just dope; their artists are intelligent, rhythmic, thinking talented people (I’m not saying I’m one of them, but for some reason, I’m here).

It’s a very unique night, and I won’t say too much of what it’s about because I’m hoping it will come to London and then you can all be surprised. Let’s just say it’s not a simple gig. The audience get the chance to ask you questions (and the people they draw in seem to be as intelligent and thinking as the artists they showcase so it’s not easy).

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The screen behind is playing a video of me performing Childhood Photographs, the introduction music is playing, I ask if I can go on stage. A different business lady in black (this one has a walkie talkie) is telling me I can’t yet and that I should wait for the video to finish. I cannot bear watching myself perform so I face the other direction until she grants me permission to walk onto the stage. She finally does. I walk on.

My performance was a blur, but a good blur..I never messed up on any of the poems and the two times I actually breathed in between words I could hear “mmm’s” and see nods of agreement so I was relieved and happy. I was asked some interesting questions, one of which had something to do with me apparently having a ‘pornographic body’ and whether I thought that it was an obstacle to achieving certain things in life… they weren’t all that quirky, others were about lines they didn’t understand in a piece, having respect as a female in this profession, and in this world, about comedy, about poverty and education.

One guy asked me who I would be if I had to be anyone in the world. I couldn’t think of anyone. He told me I had to! But I really couldn’t…I may have people that I’m inspired by but I could never have been those people; I do not have the strength, humility, or courage to be Jesus Christ; I like Nina Simone, but she was bipolar, I don’t wanna be bipolar, I like Bilal, but I don’t wanna be a on crack…everyone has flaws, why would I wanna be anyone else? I didn’t answer, the audience didn’t hold it against me :-).

My time was up. Typhoon, a well known Dutch rapper who I’ve actually seen perform before was after me. He performed in Dutch-as he usually does, and like the last time I saw him I was completely enthralled by him, he owned the stage, and he took my attention like he was entitled to it, he was awesome.

Then the highlight of the show, BLACK ICE THE POET…there is not an ounce of this guy that doesn’t make itself known through his ‘spoken word’. He told tales of his early career- when he was signed with Russel Simmons (Def Jam Records), of when he quit Def Jam, and talked of his family. He’s more than an artist, he is a teacher; I learned of his wisdom, his attachment and loyalty to his ethics and beliefs and his refusal to abandon them for the sake of glitz, glamour or Phat Farm, plus his humour- he is hilarious! His flow made my eyes pop out of my head, and his content made my brain pop of out it too. So there I was, sitting in the back of Amsterdam City Theatre with my brain and eyes outside of my head, watching one of the modern ‘spoken word’ scene’s most influential artists, and for a beautiful moment, I felt that I was part of making a little bit of history.

The feedback was great 🙂 and I was so glad I did Hits & Kisses because one lady told me it touched her greatly and that was the one she loved especially!


I’ll be back in Amsterdam at the end of September if not sooner…my one-girl play CHEWING GUM DREAMS will be on for a whole week at the Koninklijke Schouwburg, another theatre in Amsterdam! So if you’re in town, come!!!

Much Love and Love,

Michaela Coel


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