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Performer Brings Open Mic Scene to Bed-Stuy

 Limelight at Corlette in Bed-Stuy is an open mic for artists and performers to network.
Limelight Open Mic in Bed-Stuy
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A growing open mic night in Bed-Stuy promises to bring a new scene for artists to network and grow in New York.

Limelight is a new feature at the Corlette restaurant and lounge, at 193 Nostrand Ave., where artists of all stripes can take the stage to showcase their skills in spoken word, music and even comedy while networking in an intimate setting, organizer Barry Greene said.

"You've got too many open mics where you don't know a person's name, where they're from," Greene said. "There's no better place for creatives to get that type of experience than when you're all under one roof."

A Richmond, Va., native, Greene said he began performing neo-soul R&B in his hometown after being inspired by artists like D'Angelo, Erykah Badu and Maxwell, eventually starting his own popular open mic night which has as many as 150 regulars.

The 25-year-old artist — who goes by the name "Barry Barz" — relocated to New York shortly after meeting his girlfriend. They live in Crown Heights.

Greene said he was inspired to again start an open mic after traveling to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Alphabet City.

"I just saw how people enjoyed the craft," Greene said. "What would it be like if we did it here in Brooklyn, where people didn't have to go into the city to get the same experience?"

Limelight was born in February at Corlette. Greene said 30 people showed up to watch as spoken word artists performed for the crowd.

It was there Greene met another young performer, 24-year-old spoken word artist Arbed Marie, who ran her own open mic in Crown Heights before losing her venue.

"I was really looking for a platform," Marie said. "I would travel to other open mics to see the scene, perform and kind of build a following."

The two agreed to work together and Greene said his new partner's enthusiasm helped the night expand.

Shows at Limelight have attracted between 30 and 60 people a week since starting up in February. Each week, artists begin to file in around 6 p.m. for an hour-long networking session before the open mic portion begins.

After open mic, a featured artist takes the stage for a 25-minute set.

Greene wants to expand Limelight to other cities and livestream them together — he still makes the six-and-a-half-hour trip to Richmond twice a month and hopes to start another open mic in Washington, D.C.

"I'm a firm believer that if someone can connect with you outside your craft, then you have them as a friend, and they'll always support you," Greene said.