Meet Hazel Tha Great
If you haven’t already heard her soulful tunes, Hazel Tha Great is a new music intern at the Harrison Center. A musician, spoken word artist, and primarily a poet, Hazel’s blues and jazz influenced art finds its identity in individuality. She explores many different sounds in her music, and while all her art is a sort of neo-old school, she takes pride in the fact that she is able to write music in lots of different styles. Driven and full of purpose, she added “tha great” onto the end of her name to remind her of the work set before her. Trials have been a constant in her life, but music has helped her to find hope in the midst of pain.
Hazel started writing poetry when she was eight years old. She wasn’t a strong reader, so her aunt put a notebook in her hands and told her to write. By age ten, she knew she wanted to be a musician. She graduated from Herron High School in 2014, and during her time there, she found diverse sources of inspiration that were deeply moving. Tasha Jones, a spoken word artist she heard perform in the Harrison Center’s gym, opened the world of spoken word to her. Studying Shakespearean poetry her Sophomore year was also eye-opening; the infamous Bard taught her about the more formal aspects of poetry, like structure, flow, and story-telling.
As her love for poetry and music grew, she started attending and hosting open mics at local places including Foundry Provisions, Unleavened Bread Cafe, and Irving Theater. She was introduced to the Harrison Center through Herron and First Fridays, and was drawn to the positive, creative environment. She wanted to be more involved with local arts, so she approached us and landed an internship!
Since the start of her internship, Hazel has written two songs and is currently working on a third. The first was inspired by Black History Month, the second was a story about Miss Tee (one of the Greatriarchs of Monon16), and the third will be about Lincoln Square Pancake house and how it’s a place for everyone in Indianapolis. It’s certainly been a learning experience for her as she is the type who writes “straight off the heart” about her life experiences. Writing about other people and places has challenged her to find more structure in her storytelling. She also learned to use our mixer board and recorded her first beat in our soundcave! She picked it up quickly and is focusing on making beats flow.
In addition to learning about music, she has also learned about the arts and broader community. Being around art (she specifically mentioned Quincy Owens’s table in the City Gallery) has helped her appreciate many art forms. She has also built relationships with community members, like Miss Tee.
As she grows as an artist, she plans on hosting more open mics and other events, as well as starting a women’s empowerment movement. Hazel is a true cultural entrepreneur and hopes to inspire and enable others to create, whatever the medium, through her messages of peace, hope, and unity.