Spoken (Word) into Existence: The 50th Anniversary of the Hyatt Regency

By Morgan Lawrence

Songs and spoken word marry like chocolate and peanut butter. Tarriona “Tank” Ball is fluent in both art forms. The New Orleans native grew up in the Eighth Ward on Music Street, ironically. This spoken word artist and singer is the leader of the band, Tank and the Bangas, which has gained a significant fan following in New Orleans and across the nation. With their song “Quick,” Tank and the Bangas were the winners of the NPR’s 2017 “Tiny Desk Contest;” which attracted more than 6,000 video entries this year.

Tank partnered with the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to celebrate the hotel brand’s 50th anniversary. Reflecting on the hotel’s milestone 50 years ago in 1967, the first Hyatt Regency property, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, was the site of the 11th annual convention of the Southern Leadership Conference (originally the Southern Christian Leadership Conference). The Hyatt was one of the only major hotels to welcome civil rights leaders during that time.

To celebrate the civil leaders, Hyatt Regency ATL debuted a short film today titled Come Together.  The film features Tank delivering spoken word poetry. The involvement of a NOLA native in this project becomes even more special considering that it was during a meeting in New Orleans in 1957, at New Zion Baptist Church, that the formation of the Southern Leadership Conference was solidified with the establishment of its board and election of officers.

Tank’s poem in the hotel’s short film highlights the desire for unity and open-mindedness in the world with her line “come together and allow their commonalities to supersede their differences.” Tank hopes to get the messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black civil rights leaders across in the film.  She refuses to believe that no progress has been made in the last 50 years. Yes, more work can be done but the deaths of thousands of civil rights leaders and protesters will never be undermined.

“We are not victims and we come from a beautiful line of courageous people,” Tank says.

As a Black woman, Tank has had her share of unfair stereotypes; but that never slowed her down. And her advice for those who struggle to express themselves is to simply and emphatically “do you! because everyone else is taken.”

Watch Tank perform her powerful spoken word for the Hyatt Regency ATL promotional video, Come Together, here.

 

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