Raheem Devaughn. Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Erykah Badu: Soul vocalist and Strathmore Artist in Residence Dante’ Pope has performed or shared the stage with them all. From sideman to center stage, Pope opens the 2019 season of Artist in Residence (AIR) performances on January 16 and 30.
When Pope learned that he’d been accepted into Strathmore’s hallmark education program, he was on stage at Pearl Street Warehouse getting ready to perform with R&B duo BOOMSCAT.
“I was so excited to be accepted into such a well-rounded artistic experience,” the Columbia Heights resident recalls.
He was no stranger to Strathmore’s hallmark education program, which helps artists in the DC Metro Area establish careers as full-time, gigging musicians through mentorship, professional development and performance opportunities over the course of 10 months. Pope was introduced to the program by jazz saxophonist and AIR alumnus Elijah Jamal Balbed, and has been a featured drummer in residency concerts in the years that followed. That experience encouraged him to audition for the program in 2018.
How has he benefited the most as an AIR?
“Connecting with new listeners. I play music to be heard and to impact audiences through my story. I’ve performed for over 1,000 folks since last August when the program began. That’s the dream, man,” he said.
That skill served Pope well during a five-year hiatus from music, when he served as a legislative aide for Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and enjoyed giving Capitol tours to everyone from constituents to CEOs and members of British Parliament.
“Capitol Hill is filled with idealists and dreamers. Those daily encounters with staff and constituents catapulted me into actualizing my dreams,” he said.
Looking forward, Pope is eager for the release of his first LP, After 5 Music, in conjunction with his residency concerts. A year in the making, he describes the project as a soul album that explores “memories of blossoming love, let-downs, and hope for a better world.”
“After 5 pm is when adults let their hair down,” he says. “We speak honestly and freely about our lives. This project is to reflect that intimate connection. The truth. My truth.”
Fellow AIR musician singer-songwriter Calista Garcia is featured in Pope’s January concerts. Second to connecting with audiences, he has enjoyed collaborating with other participating musicians across genres.
“[Celtic fiddler] Seán Heely was the instrumentalist that surprised me the most,” Pope said. “When I’ve worked with string players before, the experience was based only on what was written. I typically don’t chart out my music and that poses a problem for some musicians… Seán listened to my original music and came to rehearsal with beautiful melodies that enhanced my songs tremendously.”
Dante’ Pope, Soul Vocalist performs on Wednesday, January 16 and Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at The Mansion at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 581-5100 or go online.
For more information and tickets to Dante’ Pope’s Artist in Residence performances at Strathmore, visit www.strathmore.org.