Big Piph is getting ready to spread ‘The Glow’ in Arkansas.
A multi-hyphenate, Big Piph – also known as Epiphany Morrow – is a Stanford graduate, emcee, record label owner and community builder. The Pine Bluff native has made his name through his ability to draw people together through music and performance, and now he’s taking it to the next level.
Starting Nov. 10, Piph will be hosting “The Glow,” a six-part digital series on the Arkansas PBS YouTube channel. Through this show, he aims to shine a bright light on the accomplishments of Black Arkansans, showing their entrepreneurial achievements, their inspirations and wild ambitions.
Piph is no stranger to achievement or ambition. He’s released a cache of albums, mixtapes and singles, as well as collaborating with a who’s who of the hip-hop game, including TI, Ne-Yo and Big Sean. He even has a seven-piece band, called Tomorrow Maybe, that he performs with.
He even served as a “hip-hop ambassador” for the U.S. State Department, traveling throughout Africa and Thailand. This trip was a turning point that started Piph thinking about Black entrepreneurship and how to boost Black stories.
In 2017, though, he had his “Eureka” moment – an experience that set him on a journey that is still ongoing two years later. He was watching Hasan Minhaj’s stand-up special “Homecoming King” on Netflix, and he had to shut it off to clear his head.
“I got to maybe 20 minutes in, and I turned it off because I couldn’t stop thinking of what my version of…a one-man show,” he said. “For the spark of, if I had a one-man show, it would involve music, talking, interactivity, and even more, the Black visuals that help tell the story to specific backgrounds.”
From that 20-minute viewing of a stand-up special, a new show was born. Over the following months, Piph developed the ideas for “The Glow” and set about executing his plan. It eventually premiered as part of the 2018 ACANSA Arts Festival and has expanded from there, with tours around the country.
“The theme of Glow, the one-man show, was for me was – here are the things that impacted me when I was younger, and is how I’m transforming them to impact what I do now. It’s kind of like I once experienced the Glow – now I’m forming the Glow,” he said.
His show was attracting notice, and Arkansas public television was about to come calling.
“Around that time, one of the producers at [Arkansas PBS] when it was still AETN said ‘We’re thinking of doing this program,’” Piph said. “It was me and maybe 20 other people they were looking. Over time, it kept getting whittled down and whittled down.”
Eventually, the network chose to move ahead with Piph. Working in collaboration with Arkansas PBS, Piph narrowed down the focus for the new show, deciding to focus on interviewing Black creatives and entrepreneurs in Arkansas. The show allows Piph to shove back the veil, allowing audiences to meet talented artists and entrepreneurs and find out what makes them tick creatively – or more precisely, what makes them “glow.”
The six-episode series will feature fashion designer Korto Momolu, musician and photographer Joshua Asante, artists Jamee and Norel McAdoo, entrepreneur Benito Lubazibwa, restauranteur Elnora Wesley and writer Chris James.
Piph will be delving into their creative processes, history and inspirations. Most important to him are the “glow” moments. “Glow, for me, is something in my life, that once I witnessed it or was exposed to it, I never thought the same from that moment,” he said.
When asked about the importance of celebrating Black stories in Arkansas, Piph was direct to the point: “Why not? I like celebrating dope stuff.” But Piph hopes that the series serves to balance out the narrative that he sees playing out in other media.
“Also, we dig into the story because there are not a lot of Black stories represented, especially outside of pain, tragedy trauma and history. I want some other stories of Black celebration of what is commonly called Black excellence,” he said.
Representation is critical for Black and minority individuals in expanding their possibilities and mindsets. Piph took a group of children to the movies to see the Marvel Studios film Black Panther when it was released, and afterwards, a 10-year-old came up to him, saying ‘You’re the real Black Panther. That’s the Black Panther, that’s the Black Panther.’
“It was kind of funny, but it also resonated with me,” Piph said. “After he saw it represented on a larger screen, in a larger audience, his mind was expanded.”
At the end of the day, that’s what Piph wants “The Glow” to be – a chance to expand someone’s horizons. He’s gotten the glow before, including from the Hasan Minhaj stand-up special, and now he’s paying it forward.
“There can be a line drawn from literally watching something on Netflix one night and now I have a show celebrating Black creatives and entrepreneurs. If you had told me at the time, I would have said, ‘Whatever,’” he joked. “If it can spark somebody in anyway, that would be for the better.”
Click here to watch “The Glow” on Arkansas PBS’s Youtube Channel. The first episode will feature Korto Momolu, and new episodes will be uploaded at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays through Dec. 15, 2020.