Love Will Lead The Way (Joe Davis)

Across the city of Minot, Joe Davis is called an inspiration to youth, a champion for educators and a kindhearted friend who empowers communities. As a poet, teacher and social activist, Davis is touring the United States to deliver songs of hope, healing and solidarity for humanity. Motivated by the words of Howard Thurman, Davis finds a sense of peace and purpose in the quote provided by the late author and theologian.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman

For Davis, the key to feeling fully alive begins with finding a passion. "When we are pursuing our passion, we're following our dreams and listening to our hearts," Davis said. "Whatever you do with your life, do it wholeheartedly. That's how you create change." At an early age, Davis learned that changing the world requires integrity first, service before self and excellence.

While growing up on the Minot Air Force Base, Davis saw first hand what it takes to make a difference as both his mother and father committed their lives to serving in the Air Force. "My parents taught me the best way to lead is by serving others with compassion," Davis said. Along with practicing the values of leadership, Davis' parents put emphasis on mastering scholarship. "Growing up, I was always in the library," Davis said. "I have to give love to my parents for cultivating my love for reading."

Today, at the age of 29, Davis is inspiring adolescents with poetry and strengthening humanity through music. Recently, Davis and his band gave a soul stirring performance that touched the hearts and minds of spectators at the Rock The Leaves Festival held in Minot. During the concert, people joined hands, exchanged hugs and wiped away tears as Davis passionately spoke about a world released from poverty, violence and racism.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said we've begun to thingify ourselves and our nation," Davis said. "We are valuing things more than we value people. Dr. King said once we get back to the roots of humanity, which is to love one another, we can dismantle the three evils of poverty, racism and militarism." Before the show concluded, audience members flocked to the stage to sing beside Davis as the band played a heart-rending message song entitled "Love Will Lead the Way."

 

Children, adolescents and adults from various racial backgrounds swayed from left to right as the harmonious grooves matched the lyrical power expressed by vocalists Imani Waters and Traiveon Dunlap.

"I really felt the love," Alfred Raehburn, an excited concert goer said. "We all go through pain and experience suffering. However, we have the choice to become stronger and do our part to make the world something better. There is a lot of love here and it's good to see people coming together." Forged by friendship and diverse in musicality, each member of the band strives to create harmony both on and off the stage.

"My band is made up of seven pieces," Davis said. "There is Helen Collins who is an amazing violinist, our keyboardist is Lewis Hill II who is phenomenal, Justin Halverson is our lead guitarist, on drums there is Traiveon Dunlap who happens to be a great vocalist, then we have Nii Adjetey Mensah who is a multi-talented instrumentalist, Imani Waters has powerhouse vocals and Mansa Musa is our featured narrator."

Heartfelt vocals, melodic guitaring, bombastic bass grooves, dynamic drumming and impassioned harmony accompanies the poetic flair provided by Davis. "I'm really grateful to have a phenomenal group of collaborators," Davis said. "Our genre has been called philosofunk because of the poetry I share during the live grooves. Funk, Blues, Soul, Gospel and R&B make up part of the reservoir we pool from to create our sound. For Davis, the ability to create change is more than a dream, it's also a serious responsibility. Currently, Davis resides in Minneapolis, but makes frequent visits to his hometown of Minot. 

Each spring, teenagers eagerly anticipate the poetry workshops provided by Davis and their English teachers. As a proud alumnus of Minot High School-Magic City Campus, Davis enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with his former English teacher Angelina Edison.

Throughout the workshops, students receive cheerful encouragement and develop a newfound passion for poetry. After weeks of practice and preparation, students discover an improved self-esteem and the courage to express both their voices and personal values.

"The heart of this event is to give kids something that I didn't have," Davis said. "These types of events are available but the kids may not be aware of them. When I was younger, there were poetry slams going on and writing workshops taking place, but I didn't know anything about them. So, I want the kids to know that hey, there is an event to express yourself and if you want be part of this, here it is."

Boom Slam is an annual event that celebrates poetic expression by giving adolescents the opportunity to command a large stage in front of a real audience. "I want the kids to take ownership of their work and this event," Davis said. "I want them to catch the fire and carry this forward. This is not about me, this is their movement and I'm just opening the gate. I'm telling them to come on in, and I hope they learn that the world can be theirs."

In the wake of terrorism both domestic and abroad, Davis wants to inspire humanity to live more humanely. According to Davis, for humanity to heal, it starts with dissolving fear by embracing the spirit of love. "When I think of fear, I see the acronyms F.E.A.R.," Davis said."False, evidence, appearing real. What we perceive becomes our reality. So, if we perceive fear we're going to live in fear."

For Davis, each day begins and closes with the vision and hope of a more loving world. "Love is the most radical, revolutionary, transformative power in the universe," Davis said. " We all know that a better world is possible, and I think the way to get there is through the power of love."

To help Davis spread his message of healing and solidarity, individuals are encouraged to visit: Patreon.com/JoeDavisPoetry or JoeDavisPoetry.com.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Editor Mike Sasser at 857-1959 or Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to msasser@minotdailynews.com.