Evolution Dopen Mic



Evolution Dopen Mic is the flagship show
of EvoluCulture Ventures, and the 2nd longest running active open mic event in Newark, NJ. It is currently held on the third Saturday of each month during a 9-month season at Divino Tasting Room (28 Maiden Lane, Newark, NJ, 07102).

Nia Waqiah w/Band
Sean Battle (host)

Evolution includes a 10-slot open mic list
for poets, singers, emcees and more to share, as well as an EvoluGame, where audience memebers compete for prizes in lip sync battles, dance offs, freestyle sessions, etc.

Each night also has a feature, whom we call ASCENDED ARTISTS: Those who are elite in craftsmanship of poetry, hip hop, R&B, and more. Past features of Evolution Dopen Mic include Leah Jenea (FOX’s the Four: Battle for Stardom); D-Black (Orange is the New Black); Dr. Helena D.Lewis (HBO’s Def Poetry and the AUDECLO award-winning Call me Crazy: Diary of a Mad Social Worker); Jasmine Mans (HBO’s Brave New Voices); Thomas Tre G. Gilbert (Lexus’ Verses and Flow); Siaara Freeman(Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate); RADI (2022 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion); the IZM. (Award winner for Best Dark Themed Short at The Artists Forum Festival); and the late Breya BlkberryMollassz Knight.

  Jasmine Mans (Featured Poet, June 2019)

The Euphony (Featured Poet/Singer/Emcee, May 2019)
Gail Campbell (Featured Singer, December 2019)
Evolution Dopen Mic serves as a response to the need of the times. By the Summer of 2014, various events were on hiatus, seasonal, or concluded, or up and running with a cover of $10 or more. Poet and author Sean Battle (who has been host and executive producer from the beginning) felt the urge to create a free, weekly show for all to attend—something he had grown accustomed to since his life as a poet began with Verbal Mayhem in New Brunswick.
At the same time,  the Coffee Cave—once a downtown Newark staple in healthy eats and house music—was was looking for someone to host a free, weekly open mic there to bring more of the arts community in.  

Evolution served both purposes upon its birth on October 9th, 2014, ushering in a boom period of poetry shows in the venue. 

As the years past, the need changed: artists and art lovers needed and deserved an experience beyond the open mic list, but with that came cost. January to March of 2015 saw one night of the weekly open mic turn into the ASCENDED ARTISTS SERIES, which were headlined by featured artists that were paid for their time and craft. Poet and Actor Shaheed K. Woods would be the first Ascended Artist in EvoluCulture history. 

Dopen Mic at the Coffee Cave, 2014-2015

 When the Coffee Cave closed in April 2015 and the show was moved next door to Burger Walla, the tradition of Ascended Artists would continue as a part of Evolution itself, as oppose to to a separate show. A $5 cover charge would be implemented to keep this going, and only went up to $10 out of post-pandemic need years later.     

Other venues to host the Dopen Mic include the Gallery 211, an extension of Doitall Kelly’s 211 Media Group; Mocha Lounge; Express Newark; the Cryout Cave, the only venue to host the show for a full calendar year before 2020;  and Divino, our current venue.

As the years passed, Evolution changed its schedule to where it’s now once a month, further insuring a quality experience for all who attend. With the mission of EovluCulture in mind, Evolution Dopen Mic is more than a show: it is a home, with fellow artists and art lovers to learn from, as well as where their first poem, song, dance, etc. was shared. 

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