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Bringing poetry back

Member of Christian hip-hop group DC Talk visits Juneau to share his music, poetry and experiences

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2003

As one of three members of Christian hip-hop stars DC Talk, Kevin Max is often more celebrated for his feather boas and his eccentricities than his love of poetry and British rock.

His new wave influences started to show up on 1995's "Jesus Freak" - the fourth of the group's six records. And about the same time, he released his first book of poetry, 1994's "At the Foot of Heaven."

With DC Talk in hiatus, and a Grammy-winning solo record, "Stereotype Be," two years removed, Max is every bit the showman but mostly a self-described poet.

He will appear at the University of Alaska Southeast Lake Room, in the Mourant Building next to the cafe, for a free unplugged concert with guitarist Eric Cole, poetry reading and lecture at noon Friday, Oct. 24.

Max and Cole also will play at the Silverbow's Back Room from 7:30 to 10 p.m. that day.

"I don't lecture in a traditional sense," Max said by phone from Nashville. "I really leave it open to where I go, but I always end up supporting the whole creative writing process that's involved in art. I'm hoping poetry will come back into the mainstream.

"I'm a musician and a poet, I don't put one in front of the other," Max said. "I've always been interested in lyrics that make you think and go beyond surface issues. A poem should make you think about your life and contemplate what inspires you."

"Stereotype Be" came out in 2001 and won two Grammys.

"It's more of a question record than an answer record; it pushes people to an understanding of what truth is," Max said in a press release. "My music is about real, flawed people who mess up, who wear their flaws on their sleeve. Real people asking, is there a God? Will He listen to me?"

Max grew up in the 1980s and latched onto British rock and new wave during his formidable high school years. The combination of music and poetry inspired him to write.

"I went from the Beatles to Roxy music to Bowie to Brian Eno," Max said by phone. "And Morrissey influenced me as a lyricist. We had some of the same influences, like Oscar Wilde. It showed up very subtly in DC Talk. Most of the songs were hiphop and R&B, but as the band progressed it started showing up more in my voice as a songwriter."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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