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Artist’s Statement

Throughout my career, I have tried to use my work as a performing and teaching artist to stimulate positive change in the world. I have used poetry, the spoken word, music, and sound effects to address numerous issues that illustrate the struggles of African-American communities. This is not an easy task given how polarizing the subject of “race” can be in America. In the spirit of my childhood heroes Richard Pryor and George Carlin, I have used humor to address sensitive issues, whether they are social, economic, cultural or political in nature. I have performed my work with numerous musical genres depending on the “needs” of the piece. I find the “mood setting” quality of music helps reinforce the imagery of my social commentary.

My work highlights the disparities between life in “African-America” and the rest of America. My inspirations have gone through subtle changes over the years. During my teens and early twenties my work focused romantic love and rebelling against parental authority. Later in my twenties, my work began to mature and became more critical in its analysis of the issues. But it was highly volatile and reactionary. My focus was on individuals who perpetrated acts I deemed unacceptable: this racist, or that corrupt politician, and anyone else bringing down my community. After becoming a parent at thirty, my work became less reactionary and more proactive. Instead of simply targeting individuals, I began examining the systems that enabled these situations to occur. Not surprisingly, this change coincided with my training in social work and my community activism around education, community development and public safety. Recently, my work has focused on mid-life issues and my family’s eighty-year history in the East Garfield Park community on Chicago’s west side. I continue to work with musicians, but have also begun collaborating with visual artists. My vision is to present my work in an interdisciplinary format incorporating: text, music, spoken words, and visual art.

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