Lifestyle | #BlackSpring - A Roux Black Production

The spring season in Colorado welcomes more than just bipolar weather patterns...Spring is a season of rebirth, growth and opportunity. The chaotic weeks of wind ripened noses and ruining our heels with salt stains are almost behind us as we look forward to sundresses and showing off our biceps. But, for the Roux Black team it means so much more than that, it’s the opportunity to showcase everything they’ve been working on throughout the winter hibernation and above all else, it’s a chance to come together as a community and appreciate the beauty of art in all its forms.

#BlackSpring gives some of Denver’s hottest independent artists a chance to showcase their talent. From the thought invoking stills of Glenn Ross to the heart breaking voice of Amanda Hawkins, these “May Babies” aren’t leaving anything left unsaid. Perhaps what makes this event so special is its curator and mastermind, Ru Johnson. Ru has an affinity for not only the color black, but for bringing together talent in unique and compelling ways. Her latest exhibit is one not to miss - grab your tickets here - they are moving fast. 

We had the opportunity to chat with a few of the artists performing/showcasing their work this Saturday and are blown away by their talent. One thing they all had in common was an appreciation for the Roux Black team and an overwhelming admiration for our pioneer in the arts, Ru Johnson. 


| Photographer, Glenn Ross | 


It all began when I started documenting the music scene that I was a part of. It was a phenomenal time and I covered a lot of ground - experimenting with video,  photography, and audio recording.

Then the lights went out.

Nearly a decade went by before I picked up a camera.

I was in Stockhom and the city was beautiful in the snow. Something called me to wander until I was lost. I walked ancient ground, saw things that  I'd never seen. It was with camera that I found my way and ever since that journey I've viewed the world thru a lens.

Q & A:

1. May is a month of rebirth and growth, how does the #BlackSpring exhibit reflect that theme to you personally?

With Spring comes life - our part of the world awakens and it's the perfect time to sew seeds for great things. The photographs in the exhibit  came from a special shoot with Ru. We'd only planned to do headshots, but the space was perfect and the mood was good. We talked life and how to make dreams real. Look closely and you'll see that come through the images - it's the vision and the hustle. It's  planting ideas and bringing the right people together to make it happen.  #BlackSpring is just the beginning -  a bud on the tree that's gonna reach the stars.

2. Hip hop is more of a cultural movement than it is a music genre, how has it shaped your work?

Well, Hip Hop is everywhere and plays a huge role in our consciousness. It's influenced all of us in some way, and for me, it's raised my awareness of a culture that I wasn't exposed to. The very first record I bought was 'Raising Hell' by Run DMC. That music took me into a world that wasn't my own, and in a way that changed my perspective on humanity. This was long before I ever made a photograph,  but the impact was profound and shows up in a lot of my work.

3. What are you most excited about for #BlackSpring? What do you hope comes out of the event?

I'm really looking forward to showcasing Ru in a way that the public hasn't really seen. We all know how motivated and sharp she is, and in the pictures out there of her we've seen a more raw view of her. While there's a bit of that in these images, they're a little more introspective and there's a honesty to them - mask off. I'm excited to see Ru shine more of her light on the world, and to connect with a whole new crew of good people to collaborate with.

Do your research: // @glennrossphoto


| Musician, Amanda Hawkins | 


"Soaring, whole-hearted vocals matched with beauty, wit and a heart of gold is Amanda Hawkins.” Amanda was born with the gift to bring audiences together and continues to do exactly that with her alluring talents. Largely recognized as an “R&B” singer by fans and industry professionals, the gifted singer/soul-songwriter recorded over 100 songs and performed well over 200 times before the age of 18. Following high school graduation, Amanda became a resident of Los Angeles, California. The Denver-born artist fit in seamlessly within the fast paced world of music entertainment and later found herself on the American Idol stage among the show’s top 50 performers.

Influenced by the likes of Luther Vandross, Pink, Aaliyah, Gwen Stefani, Lauryn Hill, Bonnie Raitt and Mary J. Blige Amanda’s heart is felt with every word written and every chord strummed. This honesty and effortless consistency has made Amanda Hawkins a household name in her home city of Denver, Colorado. Regularly returning to sing for; Denver Nuggets, Colorado Mammoth, Colorado Crush, Colorado Rapids and Colorado Avalanche home games as well as the Denver Martin Luther King Jr. Marade and benefits such as the Susan G. Koman Foundation at Denver’s Hard Rock Cafe.

Q & A: 

1. May is a month of rebirth and growth, how does the #BlackSpring exhibit reflect that theme to you personally?

Right now I'm starting a whole new chapter with my music.
I haven't released anything in the past couple years due to me being stuck in a record deal. I'm officially out of that situation and I've grown so much as person, that my music has a whole new vibe. I'm so ready to share it with the world now.
I definitely would call it a rebirth.

2. Hip hop is more of cultural movement than it is a music genre, how has it shaped your work?

I've always listened to hip hop. Growing up in the 80's, my brother would always have it playing.
I feel like the culture and sound has shaped my music in many ways. I'm not an MC but hip hop music has been a huge influence.
Hip hop as a culture is feeling it all in your soul. Whether it's music hitting you in the heart, Your passion for the fashion, or dancing your heart out. I try to always have that kind of passion in work.

3. What are you most excited about for #BlackSpring? What do you hope comes out of the event?

I'm so excited to be apart of #BlackSping. Every event Ru Johnson (Roux Black) puts on is epic.
She always holds a space for everyone here in Denver to show our art and thrive in it.
I'm looking forward to seeing the pre-show photo gallery, and the "May Babies" exhibit. I'm also excited to hear the rest of the artists performing.
t's my bday week, so I will be turnin up. haha
My hopes for the evening would be for all of us in the community to get together, share, laugh, dance and vibe with on another. 

Do Your Research: 



| Performer, Panama Soweto | 


Panama Soweto is a performance writer, emcee and educator. He is currently the Job Developer for the Denver Housing Authority’s Youth Employment Academy. His dedication to assisting youth in Denver as a mentor and educator has been demonstrated through his work over the course of the last 20 years. He is a National Poetry Slam Champion. He is also the co-founder of Slam Nuba, a Denver based competitive slam team. He tours as one of the county’s top spoken word acts at colleges and universities, and in 2015 was awarded Diversity Artist of the Year from The National Association of Campus Activities. Panama created the word Gnuck. It's definition, " A descriptive word, usually negative directed to anyone who's adopted an MTV lifestyle as a culture." The word was entered into the Urban Dictionary in 2009. In 2016 The Denver Urban Spectrum honored him with the distinguished African Americans Who Make a Difference Award. His work has been featured on Colorado Public Radio (CPR), The, the inspirational sharing site, and the 2016 PBS special The American Graduate. His poem "Scott" has over 100, 000 views and has been the number one search result in YouTube under BEST SLAM POEM EVER. It is taught in over 100  schools nationwide and over a dozen internationally. He has even shared his art during a very special TEDTALK at Colorado State University. 

He is the self published author of “Photomagnetic Explosions and Stuff,” an anthology of his written work, poems and prose. Panama was an invited performer for The Black Panther Party's 40th Anniversary in Harlem, NY. He has also performed with such notable artists as The Last Poets, Gil-Scott Heron, Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, Jack Kerouac composer David Amram, DJ Kool Herc (considered the father of Hip Hop), Zion I and The Grouch, Camp Lo, Hieroglyphics , Digable Planets, Blu, Kidz in The Hall, Dead Prez, Souls of Mischief, Chiddy Bang, Del the Funky Homosapian and The Pharcyde.