For rapper-poet-actor-playwright Dior Ashley Brown, making any kind of art requires keeping your ears as wide open as your heart. Her work draws on a sweeping array of sources (“I’m inspired by Shakespeare and Mobb Deep,” she says) in an attempt to cultivate empathy (“I try to conjure high vibration when I’m telling my truth. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable so that others might receive it”).
Brown will be wearing most of her hats Friday night during a performance of “My Vessel,” a musical monologue that details the ups and downs of her late-’90s adolescence in the District through songs, stories and more. “It was that period when we had Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill, and all of these powerful women in hip-hop,” Brown says of her back-in-the-days. “I felt so empowered then.”
And although “My Vessel” isn’t technically a one-woman show — Brown will be joined by her backing troupe, the DAB Band, made up of fellow Duke Ellington School of the Arts alums: keyboardist Turk Gaines, bassist James McCreavy and drummer David Suggs — the story is all hers. And there’s still more to tell. “[‘My Vessel’] is a coming-of-age story,” she says. “My life story? That’s a whole other play.”
Show: Friday at 9:30 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. atlasarts.org. $25.