Jamaican-Born, Brooklyn-Living, Woman-Loving, Writer/Poet, Political Activist and Performance Artist. Single Mama.
Jamaican-born Staceyann Chin is a writer and activist best known as a co-writer and original performer in Russell Simmons’ Tony Award-winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, for which she received a 2003 Drama Desk award. She is currently the Poet-in-Residence at The Culture Project. She has spoken and performed at universities across the country including NYU, Princeton University, Harvard University, Cornell University, Yale University, UC San Diego, and The University of the West Indies. She has also had her work featured around the world, including in Sweden, London, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, and Jamaica.
Chin’s first one-woman show, Hands Afire, ran for ten weeks in 2000 at the Bleecker Theater, where she also performed her second show, Unspeakable Things, in 2001. In 2005, her show Border/Clash opened to rave reviews from The New York Timesand ran for three months.
In 2009, Scribner published her memoir The Other Side of Paradise. Her work has also been in ESSENCE, Jane, The New York Times, The South African Times, and many other publications. Her poetry has been included in numerous anthologies, including Skyscrapers, Taxis, and Tampons, Poetry Slam, and Bullets and Butterflies. Staceyann was the recipient of the 2009 New York State Senate Special Human Rights Award, the 2008 Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality, the 2008 Honors from the Lesbian AIDS Project, and the 2007 Power of the Voice Award from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2006, she was nominated for the GLAAD award for Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway and Off Broadway, and in 2007 she was selected by the Center for Women and Gender at Dartmouth College for the Visionary-in-Residence Award. In December 2015, she opened MotherStruck! at the Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project. The Off Broadway show was written by Staceyann and directed by Cynthia Nixon. Author of The Memoir: The Other Side Of Paradise“watch me lose my acquired manners see me run wild woman loose skin stop asking me to be still kill me if you will I intend to run circles round this tight white drawers you have put me in” – staceyann chin
“Ferron writes of love with the relentless introspection of Leonard Cohen, and, as with classic Bob Dylan, her songs’ tough, questioning attitude sometimes gives way to an unexpected.” – Rolling Stone Magazine
Ferron is no diva. She is a real salt of the earth singer who approaches her art with both sleeves rolled up, ready to dive in. She walks her talk with heart exposed and performs with a courage and commitment that few other artists ever muster. The songs don’t sound composed and sung as much as they feel wrung from the sweat and toil of hard fought experience. In Ferron’s world, the contents of her songs appear as if they’re lived out on the canvas of her life and not just inside the confines of her art.
Ferron illuminates human experience in a way that few artists are capable of. Like fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen, Ferron has such self-possession and intuitive command of her material that she can deliver lines that a less experienced singer would never be able to pull off. The weight, poise and gravity that she communicates with each word, each carefully annunciated phrase, is something to marvel at. The words she sings sound ancient, irrefutable and significant.
With a touring career spanning three decades, the legendary Canadian folk singer Ferron made her ‘comeback’ in 2008 with the release of her fourteenth record, Boulder, produced by Bitch (Righteous Babe, Kill Rocks Stars). Boulder includes inspired performances by mentees Ani DiFranco, Samantha Parton (Be Good Tanyas), The Indigo Girls, and Jd Samson (Le Tigre), and helped generate new awareness for Ferron’s music among the younger generation.
The multicultural South African band of Sharon Katz & The Peace Train helped Nelson Mandela end Apartheid and continue spreading their message of peace and reconciliation through music all around the world. Honoring South Africa’s 25th Anniversary, The Peace Train:Transcending Barriers tour features concerts, film screenings and workshops across Africa, Mexico, Cuba and the United States in 2019-2020. On the Grammy’s “Best World Music Album” ballot, they made history when they formed South Africa’s first, 500-voice multiracial choir & then organized a courageous tour on board a train –The Peace Train – to promote a peaceful transition to democracy.
Their pulsating rhythms, rich harmonies, guitar-driven melodies, spine- tingling dances, funky bass lines, intricate drum patterns, and compelling lyrics tell of the social justice challenges worldwide – while also getting the dance party going! The versatile group of musicians, singers, dancers and workshop leaders entertain, educate and inspire audiences of all ages and sizes. Melodies from the country’s diverse cultures, including Maskanda, Kwasa-Kwasa and Mbaqanga, are fused with rock, folk and funk to tell South Africa’s story – past and present – through music and dance.
WHEN VOICES MEET, a multiple award-winning film, documents The Peace Train’s role in spreading Mandela’s message and helping youth to heal from the wounds of Apartheid. Selected by over 25 film festivals worldwide, it has shown on TV in 50 countries and is featured on Amazon Prime. Screenings have resulted in numerous diversity & inclusion projects around the world & the Transcending Barriers tours.
Their many recordings include Imbizo on Billboard’s Highly Recommended list, the just-released Side-By-Side, and Carnival! alongside Sting, Elton John, Tina Turner, Madonna and Ruben Blades.
Nia & Ness are a black, lesbian, dancer-poet performance art duo based in Brooklyn, NY. The duo met and became a couple in 2013, and founded their company in 2016. They have performed and given artist talks at multiple venues nationwide, sharing their work that aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities. They have also been highlighted in local newspapers; worked with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project Summer Institute; been featured in a 2017 BRIC TV segment, a documentary for The Advocate, and on Radio Free Brooklyn; performed at Brooklyn Pride 2017; were the featured performers and keynote speakers at the 2018 FLAME Conference at Brown University; were recipients of the BAX Summer 2017 Space Grant; and were the winners of the 2017 National Women’s Music Festival Emerging Artist Contest. Currently, Nia & Ness are on tour! To follow them on their journey, check them out on social media
B “Wahru” Cleveland has drummed on something since she was a child. She started playing bongos at age 14 and is now considered an accomplished drummer on the Djembe’, ashiko, bongos, congas, and dunun. She the founder, director and leader of Sistah Ngoma, a professional multicultural women’s drum group, The Spirit Drummers and the Columbus Community Drummers, both are multicultural mixture of female and male drummers in Columbus, OH, and surrounding areas. She has presented workshops in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Canada. She has facilitated drum circles for the NWMF and other festivals for many years. Wahru started the National Women Music Festival Drum Chorus in 2003. She, with the assistance of Rani Quimba, continues to be the director. She has performed with Ubaka Hill, Nurudafina Abena, Edwina Lee Tyler, Linda Thomas Jones, Balla Sy, and many others.
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