One by one, local artists stepped onto a small stage in a spacious Englewood living room and crooned about lovers, belted out ballads about their children and lamented about a family member in jail.
The audience, seated on folding chairs and surrounded by artwork, chimed in with accolades: "That's right!" and "You know that's true!"
That kind of support for artists is exactly what Sam Smith envisioned when he opened the nonprofit Perry Mansion Cultural Center last fall in a Queen Anne-style home in one of the city's most crime-ridden and impoverished neighborhoods.
He also wants to hold Sunday jazz brunches and youth arts programs in an area where drugs and gangs are the norm.