Until I’m a Dead Poet
Until I’m a Dead Poet

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Spoken-word artist, musician and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Emmitt James performed his latest extended play “Until I’m a Dead Poet” to a live audience on Tuesday, April 30.

An extended play is a musical recording that contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as a full studio album.

The performance featured live music: guitar, bass, drums, vocalists and a keyboard. Each member of the band is a friend of James and committed to collaborate with him on the project.

“The show is made of sample bits. There are pieces of older songs that are looped with my lyrics,” James said. “It’s about me and my upbringing, my desire to do music for a living and be successful.”

Through many of the tracks, James features personal stories of his family, one specifically about his mother as a poet.

The track “Coercion” tells the story of his mother and why he creates music. The lyrics say, “My mom’s had a poetry book in the third grade— teacher took her stuff and used her own name. In other words, my mom didn’t get credit for her artwork. I do this for my family and put my mom first.”

“I embrace the ideas of my mother’s talent from when she was younger. She didn’t make it as a poet, and now I’m trying to change that and be successful myself. I want to make it big,” James said.

Fellow band member Tim McHatten explained his reasoning for collaborating and playing in the band. He shares many of the same goals as James and the rest of the band when it comes to playing music.

“It’s been challenging and fun. These are all life-based stories and lessons, and we need to keep the message going and moving forward. I share many of the same goals as Emmitt and the band itself,” McHatten said.

UWSP student and musician Joey Bonner also helped James during the show. The duo wrote a song together entitled “Gold.”

Before starting the song, Bonner explained that he has Synesthesia, or the merging or combination of senses or sensations.

Basically, he sees certain colors when he sees certain numbers or letters, hears music or sees certain people. Bonner sees James in gold.

“Gold is about self-worth. It pretty much talks about how people put way too much stock and care into how much people value them. It’s about everyone realizing that each of us is valuable in our own way, and no one can tell you otherwise,” Bonner said.

Bonner feels that it is important to have a positive message when you want to share things like music with people, and that if you choose to create music you should do it for yourself, not because someone else wants you to.

Bonner believes the message behind the music is more meaningful for everyone if it is set out in this way.

“Emmitt is an inspiration. He pushes for not taking people for granted and making the best of a bad situation,” Bonner said. “He has a dream, and from hearing his lyrics and from having conversations with him, I can tell that he will stop at nothing to reach his dream.”

Some of the songs are about the desire to follow your dreams and being introspective. This is the message that James and those who collaborated try to follow and show their audience.

“It’s the little things at the end of the day. These are the things that drive me,” James said.