"I named it Mime4Life because I truly feel I'll be doing this for the rest of my life," said Brown, who is bringing the inaugural event to the Tinley Park Convention Center this weekend, starting Friday, Sept. 27.
Almost 100 gospel mimes from seven states, including Michigan, Virginia, New York and Illinois, have registered for this first-ever—and first-of-its-kind—conference.
"For the first one, [the attendance] is great," said Brown, a mother of three, with a special needs child and another child in college. "I'm very humble by the reception we've gotten."
Unfamiliar with gospel mime? Patch breaks down the artform and takes a look at what you need to know about this weekend's Mime4Life conference.
1. What's Gospel Mime?
Gospel mime shares a few of the same surface characteristics of traditional mime—the makeup, the silent movement—but there's more to the artform than that.
"There's a difference between street mime and gospel mime," Brown said. "We specifically dance to gospel music and worship Christ. Street mime is more for entertainment.
"We mime to music, so our main goal is to depict the song through facial expressions and movement."
2. How Did Brown Get Started Doing Gospel Mime?
While a member of Faith Movers Church in University Park, Brown began performing liturgical dance 10 years ago. That led to her discovering gospel mime two years later. From there, she continued to hone her talent, as well as mentor other mimes from around the country in the art.
3. How Did the Mime4Life Conference Start?
In 2011, Brown lost her job, but she continued her mime mentoring and ministry. She also had a vision to develop a national gospel mime conference through her Born to Praise Ministries, something she said had never been done before.
Next came the double Rs of research and reading. Although she had some "soft skills" in marketing and business, Brown had never undertaken a project of this magnitude. She also dipped into her savings and 401(k) account to invest about $2,100 into creating Mime4Life.
But the most important resource she had was the human component. Brown brought together a small group of people, and for a year, they put the pieces together for this weekend's conference.
"I surround myself with people who are smarter than me," Brown said. "God plants people in my path a lot of times. … There's no way I could've done this without a team of people."
4. What Is the Conference Like?
Gospel mime is rooted in performance, but Brown didn't want Mime4Life to be rooted in competition, like an episode of American Idol.
"This is more than just a showcase of mime," Brown said. "I wanted to really emphasize the teaching part of it."
The conference includes nine different classes that teaches everything from mime technique to how to apply makeup to marketing and branding a ministry, Brown said. Team building exercises, panel discussions and Q&A sessions also will be part of the event weekend, she added.
5. Are There Events Open to the Public?
Mime4Life isn't just for those who practice the artform. Those who enjoy viewing gospel mime also will have an opportunity to view performances.
On Saturday, a showcase at the convention center will feature 43 mimes performing. The show's 250 $10 advance tickets are sold out, Brown said. Tickets still can be purchased at the door the day of the showcase for $20.
On Sunday, Faith Movers Church in University Park, will host finale services for gospel mimes at 11 a.m.
BONUS: What's Next?
Mime4Life hasn't completed its first day yet, but Brown already is looking to make this an annual event. In fact, she's been asked to move the conference to Atlanta next year, and the idea of changing locations annually is something Brown is entertaining.
Ultimately, Brown would like to turn Mime4Life into a career. Currently, any money made by the conference goes back into it.
"I think God is opening doors for me, and maybe this is something I could do full time," Brown said. "This is my passion. This is my dream. If i could do this to sustain my family, I would do this forever."
When: Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Tinley Park Convention Center
More Info: Go to the event's ticket page.
Gospel Mime Bowling Outing
When: 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27
Where: Brunswick Zone, 3043 183rd St., Homewood
More Info: Participating gospel mimes will be heading to the alley for glow-in-the-dark bowling.
Gospel Mime Showcase
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Tinley Park Convention Center
Cost: $20 at the door
When: 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29
Where: Faith Movers Church, 425 Exchange St., University Park