Forward is the Motion: The Harp and Hip-Hop Duo You Never Knew You Needed

An audience of art-lovers collected inside the Cannon Street Arts Center. The space was minimalist: a large open room with blank walls and a block of fifty chairs neatly placed at the center. All focus was streamlined to the dark harp silent upon the stage. Here, the evening of Friday Jan. 17th, Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise performed music from their debut album, “Higher Grounds”. 

Since finishing the project last year, the unexpected hip hop and classical duo have been on the road. The event’s organizer, Marcus Amaker–Charleston’s Poet Laureate and creator of the Free Verse Festival–started the show by reading his poem “Hope is in the Listening”. 

The Philadelphia-grown band then took the stage. Elise’s angelic harp embraced rhythmic hip hop beats as Kuf Knotz spoke free verse. It’s true that the styles are not the most likely of pairings, but their fresh sound makes the band stand out from the crowd.

      Between verses, Knotz explained the band’s journey and their passion for using experimental music to empower individuals to chase their dreams and inspire communities to grow stronger, emphasizing that “forward is the motion”. His words graced subjects of perseverance, passion, home, new horizons and love. “There’s no greater power on this earth than love,” he said. The audience was urged to dance and to be free, to connect with the music however they were moved to. An inspirational, community-focused space is what the duo and Amaker were trying to create through this event. After the show, smiles, gratitude and conversation created friends out of strangers. It’s like Knotz put it, “art is where the magic happens”.

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