Sunshine of my life, A conversation with Sunshine Lombré

Our series on the 10 poets you should know continues; up next is Chicago native Sunshine Lombré.

Influenced by the rap group The Pharcyde, Maya Angelo, and Chicago artist Steven Willis, Sunshine Lombré strives to share her passion for Spoken Word and choreography while uplifting Black communities worldwide.

She has been performing poetry since her first slam competition in 2010. Since then, she has started attending and hosting artist showcase events. “I would book painters, poets, and many talented people like that. Then, the pandemic struck, and we all entered the virtual world. I decided to stay home even more and accept the big role that poetry had taken in my life. I have notebooks and notebooks and notebooks full of poetry. With the abundance of time that the pandemic afforded me, I started to get heavy into open mics via Zoom,” she said. “I began doing open mics in the early mornings with people in Australia, the UK, and all over the United States.”

Here are the other teas Sunshine Lombré shared with us about her background, hole-in-the-wall- restaurants and more.

PrideIndex (PI): Give us a bit of your background and what brought you to where you are today?

Sunshine Lombré (SL): I grew up in the different areas of the East Side of Chicago. I’ve always been super passionate about the arts, poetry, and dance. I grew up listening to rap more than poetry. I always loved the lyricism, wordplay, storytelling, rhythms, and all that. Then I remember we started learning about Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and a lot of the legendary black greats in school. We had a little poetry performance in our class in 2006. I really loved it. I then noticed over time that a lot of my poetry was inspired by many of the black legends, like the ones I began learning about back in school. I also pulled inspiration from the rappers I love.

For years, I was just writing for myself. Then, I went to my first open mic in 2010. I did a few slams around 2010-2011. I went to so many open mics over the years. Then, I began hosting artist showcases and curating different artistic events to celebrate Black History Month, Juneteenth, Kwanzaa, and other things involving Black culture. I would book painters, poets, and many talented people like that. Then, the pandemic struck, and we all entered the virtual world. I decided to stay home even more and accept the big role that poetry had taken in my life. I have notebooks and notebooks and notebooks full of poetry. With the abundance of time that the pandemic afforded me, I started to get heavy into open mics via Zoom. I began doing open mics in the early mornings with people in Australia, the UK, and the United States. I was getting to know poets from all over the country and a few from around the world. It was pretty cool. I also moved around during the pandemic. I first moved to Kansas City, then to Atlanta, and got into their poetry scenes.

I also began working on my poetry album, infused with many jazz influences. My album is called Fading Away and is available on all streaming platforms. I really love it. Since then, the world has been slowly reopening again. I’ve continued keeping up with many of my virtual poetry connections and the people I’ve met over the years in the physical world at open mics. I’ve been doing a lot of fun collaboration shows, poetry showcases, and poetry readings. I’ve continued competing in a few slams here and there. I’ve also been performing with some live jazz bands. A few rappers have had me on interludes doing verses and sharing my poetry. Seeing the many ways I can infuse poetry in other realms of creativity has been cool. Sometimes, there are a lot of scenes where it’s just a performance for poets. I really like being able to bridge those gaps and spaces. That’s a lot of what I do now. I find more ways to bring poetry to areas and people who may not have been familiar with it.

PI: Did anyone document or record the performances when you did the virtual Spoken Word events online? Are they available to be viewed on your social media platforms?

SL: The ones where I was featured, I do have those documented. But I needed to catch up with those on an open mic list, where I often did five open mics daily. Yeah, I had so much time during the pandemic. I know I had one with Kentucky. I list all my upcoming and past performances on my Instagram, and my Instagram handle is @ladylombre. Aside from that, I also keep most of my performances listed on my poetry resume.

PI: How did you come up with name Sunshine Lombré, or Lady Lombré?

SL: I was in college studying math and physics, but I was much more passionate about dance and poetry. I then decided to leave or drop out of college in 2015. I was not selling under my original name. At first, I cut out my first name and went with my last name, Lombré, I thought, Okay, I’ll be Lady Lombré until I can fill in the gaps. I was experimenting with a bunch of different things. Over time, I just eased more into who I was and what I wanted to be. I am a creative. I am an outspoken person, and I am an activist. I am all these different things. People began calling me Sunshine because I’m bubbly, cheerful, and smile. Some older ladies would say, “Oh, hey, sugar, honey, or hello, Sunshine. You’re just a ray of Sunshine.” After a while, I just accepted it. It felt good. I liked it.

PI: If you had to choose between Spoken Word, dance, or any other artistic endeavors and could only do one, which would it be?

SL: If I had to choose between poetry and dance? That’s tough. I would select poetry. Dance can be limited to your physical ability and health. Whereas with poetry, you can still do it regardless of your physical ability and condition. There have been so many amazing poets who have lost limbs or have survived cancer and all sorts of different ailments. They were still able to share unique stories that changed lives. Often times dancers aren’t able to share their stories anymore. Once they experience certain illnesses or physical injury.

PI: Earlier, you mentioned your influences. Name three people who have influenced your artistic style.

SL: Maya Angelou is definitely an inspiration. I love the rap group The Pharcyde. I really love their storytelling style. Another more recent one would be Steven Willis. He’s a Chicago Spoken Word artist, but he’s gone international and absolutely amazing. I love how he makes Black stories spiritual, biblical, and profound. He gives a lot of Black experiences the honor, the grace, and the power that they deserve. Our stories are so often swept under the rug.

PI: If your poetry style were a restaurant, what kind would it be?

SL: My poetry style would be that hole in the wall with the torn-up chairs that everybody loves with the long line, but it’s got good food. It’s accessible.

PI: What takeaway do you want people to retain from your poetry?

SL: I try to activate people with my words. Activate them to connect to different parts of themselves, connect with each other, their communities, and the earth overall. I want them to connect and take action. There are far too many ways in which pressures of trying to pay bills or the different forces of capitalism, we sometimes go on autopilot. I want to make us get back to connecting and finding ways to take action so that we can all move forward.

PI: You mentioned quite a few things that you were doing during the pandemic. Now that we’re a year or two out of it, what are you working on?

SL: Right now, I’m working on a new poetry album. The first one was more along the lines and themes of Mental Health Awareness. This one will be more of an erotic and sensual poetry album to encourage people to be more well-connected to their bodies. Coming up, I’ll be touring the East Coast more with a few performances in DC this month (August). I have a performance in DC at the Anacostia Art Center and another upcoming at Busboys and Poets. I’m performing at the Brooklyn Art Cave on September 15, then I’ll be in Detroit in October. I’m exploring and traveling more out east.

PI: When you say August, are you talking earlier or later in the month?

SL: I didn’t say the dates. The one for Anacostia Arts Center took place on August 19. The Busboys and Poets in DC will be this Friday, August 25. I’m looking to expand more. Get to know Philly and get all the way down to Miami. There are so many great poetry spaces up and down that way, and I’m looking to hit a few ladies’ homeless shelters as well as to have some writing workshops on self-love and try to give a little open mic as well so they can share some of their experiences with each other.

PI: What else would you like to share with us?

SL: I’m inspired by Chicago’s poetry scene because so much is happening. Chicago’s poetry scene is constantly evolving because it’s become so huge worldwide. People must remember that poetry slams originated in Chicago in the 1980s. We’ve evolved to do so many other things along with slams. I love Chicago so much. One thing that I am not as crazy about in the poetry scene here in Chicago is that sometimes it’s too much of poets performing for other poets. I do encourage poets to find more ways to connect with other scenes. For instance, if you’re a Christian poet, try to connect with more churches where you can inspire people that way. Regardless of your style, find ways to connect with restaurants, find more ways to communicate with inmates or the juvenile justice system. They ‘re looking for writing workshops to help find more ways to try to connect with the kids. We need to see more ways to expand our venues and avenues and find ways to communicate with the community. There’s so much room for love and growth, and less space for violence and conflict.

PI: You mentioned your first album, Fading Away, earlier. When did that album come out, and where can I find it?

SL: Fading Away came out in July 2021. You can find it on all streaming platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc. I also have physical copies that I sell as well.

PI: When is the new album coming out?

SL: I’ll say sometime in the fall or winter of 2024. I’ve worked on a few songs already, but I like seeing how different sounds work with other musicians or switching out different singers for certain tracks.

Check out Sunshine Lombré upcoming events by clicking here.

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 1: Don’t Underestimate her Poetic Prowess Brooke Gerbers

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 2: Her Storie: An interview of spoken words’ leading lady Storie Devereaux

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 4: Introducing the Millennial Poet named B.

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 5: Fantastic Voyage: One-on-one with Motown Poet Urban Legin’d Obasaki

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 6: Just call her Dark N-Lovely, An interview of Chicago Poet Tarnynon Onumonu

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 7: Talking LOVE with activist & poet Michelle Antoinette Nelson

10 Poets you should get to know – Part 8: Poetry In Motion: An interview of Goddess Warrior

Coming Soon: 10 Poets you should get to know – Part 9: Ebony Stewart

Coming Soon: 10 Poets you should get to know – Part 10: Vision