By Raven Jordan
The Deep Ellum Foundation kicked off its yearlong celebration of events for the 150th anniversary of the neighborhood Thursday night.
In a black tie event, Deep Ellum’s entrepreneurs, artists and leaders stepped out to The Pittman Hotel’s ballroom for a night of music and mingling. There was a prepared video message from honorary chair Mark Cuban.
The night opened with sounds from DJ Lex in the Box and a live music performance from Maya Piata. WFAA’s Demond Fernandez hosted the event.
“This is a beautiful event,” said Lex in the Box. “They’ve got the casinos, I’m DJing, you’ve got the amazing host from WFAA, Demond. This is phenomenal, and I think it’s amazing just to shine a light on this part of town.”
Dallas Poetry Slam performed a collaborative poem recounting the history of Deep Ellum’s history of art, jazz, culture and business. Afterward, Deep Ellum Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Keller Hudiberg took the stage.
“In the house tonight, we have so many people that pour their time, their talent and their sweat into this district every single day. They bring their own visions to life and at the same time enrich the entire district,” said Hudiberg. “At the Deep Ellum Foundation, we believe that this special neighborhood is at a pivotal moment. With this 150th celebration, our goal is to coalesce and amplify all the neighborhood wide efforts to grow Deep Ellum as a unique, vibrant, and authentic community— and also a commercial world-renowned destination.”
The gala was also attended by District 2 Council member Jesse Moreno, who is looking forward to another 150 years.
“I love the working relationship we have with the Deep Ellum Foundation, DPD, all our stakeholders really make this a unique community. It’s going to last all year long and we’re ready for the next 150.”
Others in attendance included Deep Ellum Foundation President Jon Hetzel, Deep Ellum Community Association President Breonny Lee, Deep Ellum Foundation events and program manager Will Haggins IV and Deep Ellum historian Alan Govenar.
“One of the highlights is seeing all these Deep Ellum neighborhood people together in one room, hugging people I haven’t gotten to hug in a few years,” said Lee. ” The other [highlight] is the listening room box that’s out there where Dr. Govenar has put together a soundbite of early Deep Ellum blues music as an homage to the neighborhood.”
Upstairs, Martell Holloway completed a live painting to commemorate the event. In addition to Piatas vocals, Dezi 5 also graced the stage for a few songs later in the night.
That was only the beginning of the celebrations. The Deep Ellum Cultural Center will serve as a key stop on the Dallas cultural trail including a listening room and sound room.
The 150th Deep Ellum celebration is a collaboration between several local groups, including Deep Ellum 100, Deep Vellum, Deep Ellum Community Association, Deep Ellum Foundation and many more. Deep Ellum 100 also recorded The Sounds of Deep Ellum, bringing together top talent in the district to honor the occasion. The record will be released on vinyl this year.