Frederick-Douglass Knowles II is a Poet, Professor, and Activist involved in community education, AIDS activism and the performing arts. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2. Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio –a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko –a Botswana, Southern Africa Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College in BlackRoseCity, where he has taught Composition, Literature and Creative Writing. “My poetry is the result of biographical accounts captured in narrative snapshots, highlighting the journey of the human spirit. I believe poetry is both poignant and powerful, and is pivotal in deftly drawing thought-provoking prose from the soul.”
photo by Nonfiction Photography
One of the most talented African hip-hop musicians of his generation, Amkoullel creates musical collages from traditional, beatz, jazz, rock and more. A socially engaged artist, Amkoullel articulates messages of unity, democracy and political change for contemporary Mali and Africa. He has performed at numerous renowned festivals around the world such as the Festival on the Desert (Mali), the Nice Jazz Festival (France) and the Ollin Kan Festival (Mexico). Since 2013 Amkoullel is in demand in the United States as Mali’s most influential musical voice. He performs at venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Amkoullel is also carried on Netflix in the MTV documentary series “Rebel Music” (Mali episode) filmed in Bamako.
Decora is a Hip Hop/ Spoken Word Artist from Hudson Valley, New York whose genre bending music incorporates lyrical wit with post modern electro and Hip Hop Beats.
The Business of Believing in Your Art
After touring for 10 years in over 15 countries and 40 states Decora talks about using the power of your art to help motivate and continuously fuel your career. Unlike business, that can be learned in schools, colleges and universities, the business of believing in your art is an experiential learning process that takes time, effort and persistence.
Baba Israel was raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He developed as a young artist exploring spoken word, Hip Hop, and experimental performance. He next lived and worked in Australia working on community theatre projects and festivals. During his time in Australia he received a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to produce and perform the Hip Hop Theatre production “The Bridge” which was performed in non-traditional venues and toured to juvenile detention centers. He began his career as an arts educator in Australia and has gone on to be a leading educator and consultant working with organisations such as Urban Word, BAM, and the University of Madison. He has also worked as a cultural ambassador with the State Department delivering workshops and performances across South East Asia, the south Pacific, and in Gambia and Turkey.
He is co-founder and Artistic Director of Playback NYC Theatre Company who have bring theatre to hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, as well as theatres and festivals. The company is currently developing projects to support immigrant communities in Long Island in a series of performances and workshops funded by the Hagedorn Foundation.
As a theatre and Hip Hop artist He has toured across the US, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia, performing with artists such as Outkast, Philip Glass, Rahzel, Lester Bowie, Afrika Bambaataa, Vernon Reid, and Bill Cosby. His debut solo show Boom Bap Meditations was supported by the Ford Foundation and The Hip Hop Theatre Festival which toured the US and Europe. He has worked on sound design for theatre and dance projects with Renita Martin’s It is the Seeing and Rha Goddess’s Meditations with the Goddess.
He is a long time collaborator with Jason Lindner and has toured with Jason’s project Now vs Now and was featured on their debut album produced by Meshell Ndegeocello and mixed by Bob Power.
He was AD/CEO of Contact Theatre in Manchester from 2009- 2012. Contact is a leading international organisation at the intersection of the arts and youth leadership. During his tenure he created flagship festivals, directed and produced touring productions, and programmed seasons that focused on innovative and diverse work.
Now back in New York he is currently embarking on a journey to create a piece inspired by his late father Steve Ben Israel in collaboration with Leo Kay (Unfinished Business) and Yako 440. He is also a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary arts from Goddard in the United States.
Mikal Amin Lee also known as “The Hired Gun” is an interdisciplinary hip-hop artist and educator. Hired Gun is a veteran of nine international music tours including extensive education work as a State Department Cultural Ambassador through the American Music Abroad program, and as the artistic director for the Harlem Biennele “Our Better Angels”. The Brooklyn resident has implemented master classes, cultural workshops, lectured and performed in over eight countries on four continents including Nepal, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Brazil, France and at such institutions as Columbia, Fordham, Alliance France, Palais De Tokyo and The Lourve. The founder of Fresh Roots Music, and co-founder of Re:Education and Say Word Entertainment, he currently serves as Director of Programming for Urban Word NYC.
“The travels of a Hip Hop Griot” is a look into the cultural impact that hip hop has had over the last decade throughout the world. Hip Hop no longer is the sole creative domain of the United States, and Hired Gun will discuss his experience on four continents, immersing himself, experiencing and participating in the global hip hop culture. This talk will outline and present collaborative work between himself, Brazilian, and African artists, discussing how various communities are utilizing hip hop to amplify their voice within their countries political realm, and empowering youth to make a lasting impact on their communities.
From 1996-2006, Silek was part of Dozhens (S.P.C. Crew), the first rap crew from Padua, Italy – a city near Venice. From the beginning, the crew was very experimental in its approach to hip hop, and later added electronic music and live instruments to their production. They produced three albums and an EP before going solo in 2006.
Silek continued his conceptually dark hip hop backed with an electronic sound. Around this time, he connected with the founders of the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival and became of the main stage acts at the first festival in 2006. He received excellent feedback, interviews and quotes from international press and also placed a single on a Nomadic Wax compilation album.
Over the next 8 year, we produced four more albums. His new album, Briciole di fame, will be released on March 21, 2015. he has performed at hundreds of live events and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in Italian hip hop as well as the likes of Cypress Hill, Evidence, Das FX, Dilated People, Onix, Arsonits and Psyco Realm.
Joey Batts & Them are a five-piece alternative hip-hop band based out of Connecticut. The band, comprised of Joey on vocals, Tony Volpe on guitar, John Dotson on bass, Marty Wirt on keys and Mike “Beatwiz” Spellman on drums and percussion, is taking the live hip hop scene by storm, Joey Batts never takes no for an answer – you either love his sound right away, or his voice kidnaps you until you change your mind. A lyrical genius and an amazing front man with impeccable crowd control, rolled into, one Joey Batts has proven to be an asset to CT’s growing underground hip-hop culture.
Jamel “Jam No Peanut” Mims is a multimedia artist, rapper, and revolutionary on the front lines of resistance against mass incarceration. A Washington DC native and seasoned activist who’s faced jail time with the likes of Cornel West, Jam No Peanut is out to change the world with art and action.
Sonically, Jam No Peanut takes the sinister undertones of trap genre and injects it with rapid-fire revolutionary lyrics, painting a picture of a apocalyptic society with no future for its youth- where “these days Harlem looks a whole lot more like Warsaw.” Mims, a Fulbright Scholar who is fluent in Mandarin, switches between English and Chinese in politically charged verses over hard-hitting beats.
“I strive unite with the raw despair in trap music – and use it to bring out the source of this madness – this system- and to inspire and challenge others to fight against it, and transform themselves in the process.”
Expect a dynamic, high energy set – something to make you turn up while you put your fist up – both ratchet and revolutionary.
Ben Herson is an internationally celebrated social entrepreneur, educator, media producer and published author. Herson is an experienced educator with ten years of classroom experience in New York City public and private schools and lectures regularly at institutions of higher learning (Harvard, MIT, NYU, Columbia and UCLA among others) and media conferences (SXSW, CMJ, Womex). Herson has screened his award winning films at film festivals and theaters internationally. Herson has been interviewed and featured on NPR, BBC, Billboard Magazine and the New York Times. He is also a consultant and media producer for clients that include MTV, USAID, US Department of State and the Institute for Private Investors.