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AXIS: Juneteenth Celebration

June 18

General Admission

AXIS: Juneteenth Celebration


AXIS: Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre

Join us in our outdoor theatre for our free Juneteenth Celebration in collaboration with the George L. Stevens Senior Center! Hosted by Gill Sotu, this event’s lineup includes poetry and music by performers Def SoundReg E Gaines, and Brittany Taylor; a choir performance by David Dredden and Undefeated; a Juneteenth storytelling by poet Alyce Smith Cooper; a comedy set by Kree Rushing; and a presentation by The Old Globe—all sharing performance pieces inspired by the annual holiday. 

Although offered for free, tickets are required as this is a general admission event. If there is a waitlist for this event,  we encourage everyone to register as there will be ample seating available.

  • 12:00 noon: Welcome with host Gill Sotu
  • 12:10 p.m.: Alyce Smith Cooper backed by the band
  • 12:20 p.m.: Poetry and hip-hop with Def Sound
  • 12:30 p.m.: Suckered Punch written and directed by Gill Sotu, with story by Fourth District Senior Resource Center and Gill Sotu
  • 1:00 p.m.: Comedy with Kree Rushing
  • 1:10 p.m.: Poetry by Reg E Gaines
  • 1:20 p.m.: Music by neo soul singer Brittany Taylor
  • 1:30 p.m.: Choir performance by David Dredden and Undefeated

Host, Performers, and Guests

Gill Sotu (Host) is a veteran, poet, playwright, DJ, and performing artist. He is a two-time Grand Slam Poetry Champion, a two-time RAW Performing Artist of the Year, and a three-time TEDxSanDiego presenter. Currently he is a teaching artist and a commissioned playwright with The Old Globe, a program director with Intrepid Theatre Company, a creative director for TEDxSanDiego, and the artist-in-residence at Makers Church. He has been commissioned to produce original pieces for leading arts and community organizations around the country and is honored to be a part of this event.

David Dredden and Undefeated (Performers) Undefeated. That singular declaration embodies the artistic spirit of the explosive collective that makes up the singing group Undefeated. Since its inception, Undefeated has not strayed from fulfilling their purpose of leading a generation back to God through the ministry of song and exhortation. This vibrant group has set out to promote victorious living and to share with the world that we can all be “undefeated” against life’s challenges through Jesus Christ. Undefeated’s anointed fusion of heartfelt worship, harmonic sound, sincere praise, and energy often leaves audiences riveted. “Our goal is to leave the audience encouraged, edified, and fulfilled once we exit the stage,” states Undefeated founder/visionary David Dredden. He adds, “If one person’s mind is positively affected by something we have sung or said, then we have done our job.”

Def Sound If music was a menu, Def Sound would be the vegan option. As an Afro Latinx multi-hyphenate artist (parents from Belize & Panama) born and based in South Central LA, Def Sound (mom given name Emmanuel Ashley Ricketts) is a non binary (pronouns they/them/he/him) Grammy Award considered contemporary hip-hop artist, producer, published poet, DJ, and award winning academic. Def’s work as a poet has been included in Saul Williams' Anthology CHORUS, while their music has been featured in LA WEEKLY, LA Record, The L.A. Times, LACMA’s Poetry series POETRY In Color, the art exhibition The Black Index curated by Bridget Cooks, the Emmy Nominated Television series Music Diaries, and the Emmy winning Artbound on KCET.

Def also hosts a monthly radio show/podcast  EXHIBIT AYE on listener powered non profit radio station DUBLAB. Lastly, Def is the 2021 recipient of the LINDON W. BARRETT Award from the African American Studies Department School of Humanities at UC Irvine. Having done guest talks at both CalArts and Stanford Def is using their work to synthesize theory, culture and magic of the mundane. Def is serving a buffet of healthy experimental raps and poems that feed both the mind and spirit.  Weaving together Poetry, Hip Hop and their Afro Latinx roots, Def is letting their food touch - using art as a healing mechanism.

Reg E Gaines (Performer) is a two time Tony Award nominated playwright and Grammy Award nominated lyricist. He has published four books of poetry, is editor of the 2015 poetry anthology, A Year In Ink. He has scored the PBS documentary Senior Year and has served as artistic director of the NYC Downtown Urban Arts Festival since 2007. Recent projects include, director of Connect The Lots, a musical theater summer camp in Camden, New Jersey in 2014. Director/ creative writing workshop facilitator of, Through The Looking Glass, Center Theater Group, Los Angeles California, 2014-2016. Director of Lyricist Fellowship Lab, Teaching Firm of America Charter School, Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, winter/spring 2017. Is Poetry Theater? workshop facilitator, Bowery Poetry Club, NYC 2018 and writer, director, producer, The 88, a new musical with music by Calvin Gaines, 2020.

Alyce Smith Cooper (Performer) has long been an arts and community advocate. She is a woman of many talents and wears many hats. As a poet, storyteller, actress, and television talk show host, she has often been found promoting issues of creativity, compassion, and inclusion. These actions fit in well with her roles of registered nurse, chaplain, and ordained minister, and finally garnered her inclusion into the Women’s Museum of San Diego Hall of Fame in 2014. Currently she sits on the Playhouse Leadership Council of La Jolla Playhouse and is a retired Elder from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2015, Cooper, along with two co-authors, Dr. Judy Sundayo and Jamie Victoria Jones, published The Gumbo Pot Poems. The prize-winning book is currently being used as a textbook in local colleges and may be purchased on Amazon. She is currently in the process of writing the history of the Educational Cultural Complex for the San Diego Community College Continuing Education Department. James Vernon Cooper, her deceased husband, served as a U.S. Marine. She is the mother of two, grandmother of five, and great grandmother of 13. San Diego is home base for this poet/storyteller who is also known as The Golden-Brown Fairy Godmother. Most recently she co-created, under the auspices of La Jolla Playhouse, three music videos titled “Spittin Truth to Power While Light Leapin for the People” along with Hollywood-based artist/DJ Shammy Dee.

Kree Rushing (Performer) was born on May 14, 1991 at the old Navy hospital on the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He grew up in “deep valley” Oceanside, where he witnessed everything ranging from gang violence to drug abuse. This environment shaped his imagination and gave him the desire to always seek the good in hard times. He got his first taste of the stage at the age of 19 while attending and working at the Mira Costa College Black Student Conference in 2011. As a result of performers being unprepared and running late, Rushing’s sociology professor asked him to stall the crowd while being provided with a microphone, speakers, and a stage. He proceeded to pull off a 45-minute freestyle comedy set. From that day forward, he knew he was hooked and realized what his purpose was. Since that moment, Rushing has traveled the country doing stand-up comedy while taking pride in people’s enjoyment and laughter. He truly believes he is living proof that laughter is the best medicine.