Bringing Teen Talent to the African American Cultural Center

pictured CAN YOU HEAR NOW? Teens during their Burchfield Penney Arts center performance earlier this year / Street Legacy Photos

Since November of 2017, a team of artists have gathered with multi-talented youth ages 12 to 21 at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center to participate in an open mic performing arts program called, Can You Hear Me Now.  After over 10 weeks of work a teen ensemble will present their annual Can You Hear Me Now? showcase performance on Saturday April 30 at 6 p.m. and Sunday May 1 at 5 p.m. at the African American Cultural Center on 350 Masten Avenue,. Tickets will be $10 at the door, or on-line at

Can You Hear Me Now? is an open mic program that meets Monday and Wednesday evenings to empower young performers to transition from performing covers of commercial songs to developing original poetry, rap, and movement. 

hese young people come from schools around Buffalo.  There are very few spaces where teens can connect with their peers, while being challenged to deepen and refine their work. Teens need more opportunities to develop their creative ideas, their discipline, and communication skills through the performing arts, and to learn how to reach audiences as performers.  

Founded in 2017 by award-winning Hip Hop artist Solomon Dixon, Can You Hear Me Now is directed by Da’Von McCune, rap artist and owner of D Real McCoy Entertainment, and Ashley Watson, a Marriage and Family Counselor, and owner of # Real Talk, a social emotional learning curriculum for youth. Michael Tritto, the Associate Director at Gloria J. Parks Community Center provides administrative support. 

Youth are drawn to this program for both personal and artistic reasons.  On a personal level, the teens love to cheer for the others and to be celebrated by their peers after they present new work each week on the open mic stage.  The young people also participate each week in a 45-minute #REAL TALK workshop to explore in action the inner qualities of their humanity.  These interactive workshops led by Ashley Watson challenge teens to courageously share their feelings and discoveries about 9 life principles, including safety, respect, empathy, love, honesty, confidence, maturity, focus & empowerment. 

These teens get the most excited when the mic is opened each week for youth performances.  Students are challenged to refine works in progress, and to try out new works for the first time.  

This event is produced by the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA), a non-profit agency offering youth, senior citizen, and adult programs at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center, 3242 Main Street and housing and business development services at 995 Kensington Avenue.

This program is funded by a generous grant from the Erie County Youth Bureau.

The African American Cultural Center is co-sponsoring the showcase events on April 30 and May 1.

For more info about the Can You Hear Me Now Free Open Mic & Coffee House 2022 schedule contact Mike Tritto at the Gloria Parks 832-5085