Photos: Mama Sol, Motivational Speaker and Spoken-Word Poet, Gives Concert and Lecture

Mama Sol transfers from spoken-word and poetic iterations to singing, kicking off the concert section of the event. Sol was brought in as guest speaker to wrap up Albion College’s second annual Look Writing Retreat (Photo by Phoebe Holm).

On Thursday, the School for Public Purpose hosted a free motivational lecture and concert with spoken-word and hip-hop artist Mama Sol, completing the events of the 2023 Look Writing Retreat. 

Digital Badge Program Manager, Kalli Onai, said she spearheaded the event and organized many aspects of the writing retreat as a whole, along with her fellow staff members. While Onai checked people in, she made sure everyone took advantage of the free snack table. 

“The Look Writing Retreat’s overall purpose is for students to come and get professional writing help,” Onai said, adding how important it is to find out who you are and how it relates to your professionalism and “personal branding.”

The retreat consisted of a morning writing workshop at the campus library and an afternoon workshop at the Ludington Center. These events were then followed and wrapped up by Sol’s performance in the Science Atrium. 

Onai said that Mama Sol is the “perfect example” of someone who speaks on what it means to be a writer.

Onai smiles as Sol performs a piece of original music (Photo by Phoebe Holm).

“She’s a master storyteller who has used her personal freedom to create a nontraditional career path,” Onai said. 

Sol, who was born and raised in Flint, has made it her mission to motivate and assist people through music and the spoken word. Known for writing her way to professional freedom, Sol has been involved in and made a wide variety of projects, each with the intention to inspire. Using her voice to uplift the importance of self-love, hard work, dedication and advocacy. 

“Several times I’d be a perfect angel other times the devil got the best of me. You may also be the result of a very scattered life pattern, but your culture, your creed and the blood that you bleed are the fruit that fell from the tree. You’ve got to believe in you, if nobody else tells you you’re great then self-talk is more important than what any person can tell you. This is what I believe,” Sol said.

Sol discusses the importance of focusing on self-love and spirituality, and their role in making goals a reality (Photo by Phoebe Holm).

Sol said writing is a way of coping.

Growing up with a father who was in and out of prison, living in a low-income neighborhood, going through her own struggle with addiction, and conflicts she faced between her social roles and emotions, “I was able to write myself out of some very dark places,” Sol said.

Sol kicks off the event by discussing the life events that lead her to where she is today, mixing in moments of poetic iterations and slam poetry. While showing videos of projects she has made and performed over the years (Photo by Phoebe Holm).

She spoke about accountability and told the audience to look at themselves in the mirror and ask who they want to be today. By taking the time to tell yourself you are the maker of your own dreams. Sol shared advice for aspiring writers of Albion.

“If you want to write professionally, you have to adjust your process. Then only can you start pulling the weeds because they suffocate your growth,” Sol said. “To hone in your craft and be a good writer you must be able to self-reflect while getting rid of habits, behaviors as well as people that aren’t working for you. And connecting with those who help you grow.” 

Throughout the majority of the lecture, Sol continued to elaborate further on how she felt about the company a person should surround themselves with. 

“Your net worth is your network,” Sol said. “Surrounding yourself with people who bring positive energy and growth to your existence gives immense power to your abilities.”

Sol concluded the lecture with this:

“I’m very mindful of the words I use, the music that I listen to, the movies that I watch and very mindful of the company that I keep. And I don’t have a problem with being alone. I am my best friend, I love myself,” Sol said.

Sol and her drummer, Gene, exchange quick notes before performing the next song (Photo by Phoebe Holm).

The event wrapped up with Sol and her drummer performing five original songs, each one tying back to the messages and lessons she shared earlier in the night. The room was filled with swaying bodies, clapping hands, melodies and lyrics. 

About Phoebe Holm 19 Articles
Phoebe Holm is a junior from Boyne City, Michigan and a psychology major at Albion College. She is interested in understanding the human mind, writing about things that make her passionate and creating art. You can always find her listening to music and watching movies. Contact Phoebe via email at

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