Press Photos here

HOUSTON (January 29, 2021) ­­– Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) today announces six live performance award winners of the SPA Houston Artist Commissioning Project (HACP). Chosen from over 60 applicants, the winners reflect the breadth, diversity, and extraordinary creativity of Houston’s working performing artists. The premieres of these new 15-25 minute works will be presented by SPA in Jones Hall on October 15 & 16 and November 12 & 13, 2021. Each artist will have two opportunities to perform their new work for live, in-person audiences. Tickets and additional information will be announced later this spring with the launch of the 2021-22 season.

Houston Artist Commissioning Project Live Award Winners

  • Harrison Guy
  • Say Girl Say with Two Star Symphony & Input/Output
  • Riyaaz Qawwali
  • Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
  • Patrick PJ Davis
  • Loop38 & Houston Contemporary Dance Company

While there were originally three live performance award winners planned for this phase of the project, SPA sought to respond to the need for support in our artist communities and doubled the number of awards given.

Owing to the success of the six virtual commissions premiered throughout the fall, three additional artists have also been awarded commissions to create short virtual works to premiere later this year on SPA’s social media channels.

Newly Added HACP Virtual Award Winners

  • Erin Rodgers
  • kNoname Artist
  • Vivalda Ndula

“By supporting Houston artists, we’re creating opportunities for positive social, cultural and economic growth in our community at a time when the performing arts and arts workers have been decimated. The arts heal, inspire, create community and enrich our world. We have never needed our artists more than at this very moment.”  -Meg Booth, CEO

Each live performance award includes a stipend, and full support of a presented engagement including technical support, on-stage rehearsal time and marketing in addition to the performances at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Additional opportunities to engage with the community, including moderated talks and a preview with Houston-area school students are also included. Virtual award winners each receive a stipend and moderated talk prior to the new work premiere.

Launched in June 2020, with the aim to support creators from Houston’s own communities, the Houston Artist Commissioning Project will commission and premiere of 15 new works in its pilot year. More information about the project and winning artists can be found at

About HACP Live Award Winners

Harrison Guy
Harrison has captivated audiences across the nation through his inspirational and unique works of passion, beauty, and activism that are rooted in African American history & culture. He began his dance journey in the small town of La Marque, TX, and building on his love for social dance and Hip-Hop he affirmed his purpose and calling by studying dance at Prairie View A&M University. He continued his studies at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Sam Houston State University, Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and The Ailey School in New York. He was a founding member of both Exclamation Dance Company and Dorrel Martin’s Dance Fusion in Houston. In 2004, he debuted his dance company Urban Souls Dance Company at the city-wide dance festival, Dance Houston.

Say Girl Say with Two Star Symphony & Input/Output
Say Girl Say is a genre-bending multi-instrumental duo from Houston, Texas composed of members Brigette Yawn and Suad Ihsan. Their signature sound is known for articulate soaring vocal harmonies, lyrical finesse and entrancing melodies backed by eclectic instrumental production. In May 2015, Say Girl Say released their first self-titled record “Say Girl Say.” Since then they’ve performed at SXSW, CMJ, Art Outside, Houston Whatever Fest, River Revival, In Bloom and many others. In 2019, Say Girl Say was honored the opportunity to partner with sign language interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego, who specializes in music interpreting, for a mini-docu series “Music Has No Bounds” sponsored by Dell, a collaborative experience that depicts the representation of the deaf and hard of hearing community and bridging the gap for cultural linguistic minorities in America by making meaningful and genuine connections through music.

Riyaaz Qawwali
Riyaaz Qawwali performs the gripping music style called qawwali, or sufi music. They represent the diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and represent multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds. Trained in eastern and western classical music, the members have been professionally performing qawwali for the past twelve years. With conservative growth and heightened attention to quality, Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S., in Panama and debuted in Europe in 2017

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally known writer, educator, activist, and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Poet in the World, her work has appeared in Houston Noir by Akashic Press (2019), Black Girl Magic by Haymarket Books (2019), Fjords Journal, Crab Orchard Review, and on such platforms as NPR, BBC, ABC, Apple News, Blavity, Upworthy, and across the TedX circuit. She serves as a contributing writer to Texas Monthly and Glamour. Her most recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, won honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, under the title SayTheirNames, is set to be released in Fall 2021 by Elif Verlag.

Patrick PJ Davis
Patrick “PJ” Davis is a creative and social activist based out of Houston, Texas and founder of the poetry troop Starving Poets, Ink. PJ has produced homegrown events such as the Starving Poets: Poetic House Party and worked with many other landmark events such as Poetry Lounge Houston, Houston International Jazz Festival and Tournament of the Stars. He has also been a pioneer on the arts scene co-producing and collaborating with many events from poetry, comedy, theater, jazz, live music and major festivals. He is the father of a beautiful daughter Phoenix and was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas.

Loop38 & Houston Contemporary Dance Company
Loop38 is a boundary-pushing, artist-driven new music ensemble that aims to build community around innovative, stimulating, and culturally relevant musical experiences. Loop38 cherishes opportunities to work closely with composers and artists from other disciplines to create unique artistic experiences. Past collaborations have involved the Rice University Theater Department, Apollo Chamber Players, the Moody Center for the Arts, WindSync, University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum, Musiqa, and several artists in residence at Sawyer Yards.

Houston Contemporary Dance Company (HCDC) is a fresh, brand-new arts organization whose mission is to ignite passion for contemporary dance by providing world-class professional repertory concert performances and community engagement activities that are accessible to all regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, or nationality. HCDC aims to be a vital component in not only keeping contemporary dance alive in Houston, but to firmly position Houston as a cultural center for dance by building broad participation and support for contemporary dance.

# # #

About Society for the Performing Arts
Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) is the largest non-profit arts presenter in the Southwest. Founded in 1966 as a resident organization of Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, SPA has sponsored more than 1,000 performances of the world’s most remarkable artists, featuring a huge range of arts disciplines.  In addition to performances at Houston’s Theater District venues, SPA provides learning experiences for all ages through master classes, lectures and special performances, as builds strong supportive relationships with schools and community organizations throughout the region. More at

Follow Society for the Performing Arts @spahouston
Facebook Instagram Twitter