TEDxMinneapolis Brings The Noise

October 24, 2016

The TEDx series is an “independently organized” group of TED events. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. After working on my fifth TEDxMinneapolis event last Friday, “independently organized” grossly distorts how TEDx events are successful. They take a village. A community, if you will, from the core team of volunteers, food vendors, sponsors to the speakers themselves who make it unforgettable. As anyone who has worked on an event knows, it just takes one miscalculation, one mistake, oversight or weak link to leave a large blemish on your otherwise wonderful get-together. I’ll just say every single person involved killed it.

Last Friday, the MacPhail Center for Music hosted the final TEDxMinneapolis event of the year, and it was the most flawless of my experience. A “salon” event, this TEDx was a smaller gathering, hyper-focused on one topic. The theme was titled “Reverb” and addressed how we consume, unleash and create power with music and sound in Minneapolis. Sure, you could say the “smaller” sold-out audience of just about 300 people made it easier to pull this off, but then I would call you out for never planning an event before. All four of the speakers received standing ovations – the first time in TEDxMinneapolis history. Our performers pulled off the incredible, including an improv performance with a beatboxer, a flatist and a cellist. (Also received a standing ovation). The food was a hit. If you know events, that can be the worst! And did I mention it was sold out?

For those of you who couldn’t partake in this experience, well, I guess I just feel bad for you. But not to worry! The talks will be up on YouTube before the end of the year. In the meantime, here are my top moments from the evening:

  • Toki Wright gave the crowd a major education on the power of hip-hop and how it can heal the community. And then we played some of this:

  • Speaker Amanda Weber had me in a puddle of tears. Director of the Voices of Hope Choir at the Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility, she has seen firsthand how music is giving these women a chance for restorative justice. She put a spotlight on the major issues facing women in prison today, especially in Minnesota.
  • Roger Dumas is a Ph.D. conducting research at the UofM’s Brain Sciences Center. I can’t spoil this for you, but he’s found a way to change the way we listen to music, because MP3s ruined everything. Anyway, he came out at the end of the event to open and play a SEALED Prince demo from 1977. (BTW, he taught a 17-year-old Prince how to use the Oberheim 4-voice synthesizer… I mean, whatever).

#Prince demo from 1977 being opened for the first time at @tedxminneapolis #classic

A video posted by Toki Wright (@tokiwright) on

You can learn when the talks are up online by heading to TEDxMinneapolis.com and signing up for the newsletter. Or just check out Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.