On Friday, February 25th, IMAN held its first Community Café of 2011 at the Chicago Urban Arts Society in the Pilsen neighborhood. The event was hosted by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet,” who enlightened the audience and performers alike throughout the night on the significance of being conscious about the environment.
The night started off with a spoken-word piece by IMAN volunteer Tabina Bajwa, followed by the first musical performance of the night, jazz/hip-hop group Zzaje. Their sound led smoothly into a performance by Seasunz + J. Bless, a duo that recently released a green hip-hop album.
Off-stage, graffiti artist eL Seed and Chicago artist Savera Iftikhar were busy creating a work of art throughout the night. In light of the night’s green theme, they painted a piece on a canvas made of old t-shirts, converting the would-be useless clothing into a colorful, textured background for their piece. Friends and audience members also participated in the live artwork. By the end of the night, the audience was awed by the finished piece.
Surprise special guests Brother Ali and Big Samir of The Reminders hit the stage briefly, bringing the audience to their feet. The highlight of the evening came in the form of Yuna, an indie, acoustic artist who travelled all the way from Malaysia to grace this Community Café with her presence. Following their loud cheers and applause, the audience was struck silent as Yuna made her Chicago debut, captivating everyone in the room with her enchanting voice and acoustic guitar.
Two-time ‘Louder Than A Bomb’ spoken-word competition-winner Ainee Fatima performed a moving piece reminding the audience of the struggle and bravery of those participating in the revolutions occurring around the world. The night returned to hip-hop with artist Baraka Blue and DJ Anas Canon, and came to a close as several of the night’s performers and host Ibrahim Abdul-Matin returned to the stage for a jam session.
“I left feeling a strong sense of community. It was really inspiring to see so many different people from different backgrounds come out for a good cause and have such a good time,” said audience-member Omer Mohammad, a student from Qatar visiting Chicago on study abroad. The event’s turnout was immense, with many being turned away at the door due to the building being filled to capacity.