By Michael Solender
Music, dialogue and movement used in creating theater “rich as the rhythm it possesses,” are amongst the many components Quentin Talley uses in his storytelling approach and philosophy.
Producer, director, actor, poet, host, consultant, vocalist, recording and teaching artist, Talley is a fixture on Charlotte’s theater and cultural scene – a venerated place he’s held for decades.
“My work has always been a way to study culture, connect communities, while honoring the black experience,” Talley said. “It is an example of finding one’s power in their voice to bring stories into existence. I want to sustain stories communicating the black experience with utmost respect, integrity and love of cultural context. I see the brilliance of artists of color have to set the trends and influence the world. Being a professional creative has taught me so much and challenges me every day to be a better human being.”
Talley founded his nonprofit professional theater company, OnQ Performing Arts, Inc. in 2006. OnQ is the first African-American resident theater company at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. They have partnered with many local arts and cultural institutions including Mint Museum, Levine Museum of the New South, Opera Carolina and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.
OnQ’s performances of “Miles & Coltrane,” a dramatic tribute to these pioneering jazz legends, sold out at East to Edinburgh in New York City and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It was also featured at the DC Black Theater Festival, the National Black Arts Festival and Piccolo Spoleto.
Talley is widely recognized for his artistic contributions to the community. He’s received the Arc of Triumph Award from Johnson C. Smith University, Jazzy Honoree from the Harvey B. Gantt Center, Center Stage Award from Blumenthal Performing Arts and Metrolina Theater Association’s Emerging Artist Award.
Now, “Q” plans to explore and research the evolution of Jazz, R&B, soul and hip hop music and its relationship to black theater and influence on American culture with the support of an ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship.
“Our stories are too rich, too diverse and too complex to become misused, misguided and misappropriated,” Talley said. “Therefore, above all else, my goal is to be as authentic as possible, never taking creativity for granted. It is a blessing, being on stage is a privilege and our craft is a responsibility worthy of virtue. These are reasons why I continue to do the work that I do.”