"Artists are the Gatekeepers of Truth," said Paul Robeson. America has a rich history of artist-activists. We at Sankofa.org are partnering with artists of today who are using their voice to impact the future.

The next generation.

Aja

Aja Monet

“The true definition of an artist” is how the iconic Harry Belafonte describes Aja Monet who is a poet, educator, and songwriter from East NY, Brooklyn.

She works with inner-city youth as a Teaching Artist for Urban Word NYC as well as Urban Arts Partnership in NYC. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (2009), Aja Monet received her BA in Liberal Arts and was awarded the The Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry which was established to recognize undergraduate students whose work in poetry “effectively examines relationships among women, especially in the context of justice for everyone.” She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). The youngest individual to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title—at the age of 19—she is recognized for combining her spellbound voice and powerful imagery on stage, through storytelling, captivating audiences across the United States, France, the UK, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Cuba. In 2014, she was awarded the YWCA of the City of New York’s “One to Watch Award”—an award established in honor of Monet’s work to elevate women under the age of 30 who exemplify the mission of the organization: to empower women and eliminate racism. In 2015, she traveled to Palestine on a solidarity trip with the Dream Defenders where US activists from across the nation met with Palestinian activists and artists to share, create, and learn speaking out actively about the importance of solidarity in organizing. She currently works with Dream Defenders while traveling to perform and use poetry as a transformative methodology of the oppressed.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.ajamonet.com
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Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc released his major-label debut album Lift Your Spirit March 11th on XIX Recordings/Interscope Records where it debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

The set follows up Blacc’s collaboration as vocalist and co-writer on well-known DJ/producer Avicii’s track “Wake Me Up,” a song that hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on its Hot Dance Club Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs charts, as well as topping charts in more than 100 countries. Blacc’s single “The Man” topped the charts and with more than 2.4 million singles sold. Blacc spent the summer out on a U.S. tour with Bruno Mars in support of Lift Your Spirit. He made his acting debut in “Get On Up,” the James Brown biopic which opened on August 1st. To learn more about Aloe Blacc, visit www.aloeblacc.com and follow him on Twitter (@aloeblacc).

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.aloeblacc.com
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Angélique Kidjo

Three-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with thirteen albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva". The BBC has included her in its list of the continent's 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World.

Three-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with thirteen albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva". The BBC has included her in its list of the continent's 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

As a performer, her striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. Kidjo has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. 

Her star-studded album DJIN DJIN won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Album in 2008, and her album OYO was nominated for the same award in 2011. In January 2014 Angélique’s first book, a memoir titled Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (Harper Collins) and her twelfth album, EVE (Savoy/429 Records), were released to critical acclaim. EVE later went on to with the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2015.

On her newest album, the highly anticipated 429 Records recording Sings with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg (2015), the visionary songwriter and vocalist teams with the ensemble’s renowned conductor and composer Gast Waltzing to create an historic work that beautifully blends the classical music traditions of Europe and the powerful rhythmic excitement of the sounds of her native land. Backed by the sweeping grandeur of the 110 musician ensemble, the singer - drawing fresh, emotional power from her trademark guttural voice - re-imagines nine classic pieces from her 24 year discography and two new tunes (“Otishe,” “Nanae”) from EVE. SINGS has garnered Angelique her 8th Grammy nomination and third win for Best World Music Album. Angelique has gone on to perform this genre-bending work with several international orchestras and symphonies including the Bruckner Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Philharmonie de Paris. Her collaboration with Philip Glass, title IFÉ: Three Yorùbá Songs, made its US debut to a sold out concert with the San Francisco Symphony in June 2015. In addition to performing this new orchestral concert, Angelique continues to tour globally performing the high-energy concert she’s become famous for with her four-piece band. Her rousing live show was recently captured at the revered Austin City Limits and will make its television debut in January 2016.


Angelique also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill Ambassador. She created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to support the education of young girls in Africa.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.kidjo.com/
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Brandan Odums

Brandan “BMike” Odums is the founder and director of 2-Cent Entertainment LLC-­a youth education social enterprise that produces mixed media content and events in the overlap between pop culture and social awareness. Founded in 2005, 2-­Cent began as a hip-­hop‐oriented, grassroots, entertainment company geared towards addressing problems in the community. Since then the company, through Brandan’s vision, has made itself a household name across New Orleans and surrounding areas.

For more information about this artist, check out www.brandanodums.com
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Bryan-Michael Cox

Bryan-Michael Cox is from Houston, TX but started his music career in Atlanta, GA, where he still lives today. Bryan is a 9x Grammy Award Winning Producer/Songwriter, who is responsible for over 175+ million albums sold, and has 35 #1 hits.

He has worked with an elite group of talent including Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and Usher to name a few. In addition, he’s currently working with Chris Brown and Usher on their new albums as a producer and songwriter.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.bryanmichaelcox.com
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Bryonn Bain

Bryonn Bain is Brooklyn's own prison activist, actor, author, hip hop theater innovator and spoken word poetry champion. Wrongfully incarcerated during his second year at Harvard Law, Bain was featured on 60 Minutes after writing Walking While Black: The Bill of Rights for Black Men -- which received the largest reader response in the history of The Village Voice.

Described by Cornel West as an artist who "…speaks his truth with a power we desperately need to hear," Bain's work as a BET host won awards for the critically acclaimed talk show My Two Cents -- broadcast weekly to over 20 million homes nationwide. Bain's latest book, THE UGLY SIDE OF BEAUTIFUL: Rethinking Race and Prisons in America is published by Third World Press with a foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal and introduction by pioneering legal scholar Lani Guinier. After teaching the first hip hop and spoken word course at Harvard University, Bain became a founding director for the Prison Education Program at NYU to offer college degree opportunities in New York prisons. Bringing arts and education to prisons for over 25 years, his groundbreaking courses on hip hop, theater, spoken word poetry and the prison crisis continue to be a favorite at Rikers Island prison and Boys Town Detention Center. Executive Produced by Harry Belafonte and directed by Gina Belafonte, LYRICS FROM LOCKDOWN is the multimedia, hip hop theater production based on Bain's experience of wrongful imprisonment which was feature in his 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace. Including letters and lyrics from a fellow poet sentenced to Death Row at 17 years old, LYRICS has sold out on three continents worldwide and received extraordinary reviews: www.LyricsfromLockdown.com Bain's music and verse is feature on LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN: The Digital Mixtape, the soundtrack to The Darkest Hour, featuring founding hip hop DJ Kool Herc and an all star cast of legendary collaborators.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.BryonnBain.com
Santana

Carlos Santana

Delivered with a level of passion and soul equal to the legendary sonic charge of his guitar, the sound of Carlos Santana is one of the world's best-known musical signatures. For more than four decades—from Santana's earliest days as a groundbreaking Afro-Latin-blues-rock fusion outfit in San Francisco—Carlos has been the visionary force behind artistry that transcends musical genres and generational, cultural and geographical boundaries.

Long before the category now known as “world music” was named, Santana's ever-evolving sound was always ahead of its time in its universal appeal, and today registers as ideally in sync with the 21st century’s pan-cultural landscape. And, with a dedication to humanitarian outreach and social activism that parallels his lifelong relationship with music, Carlos Santana is as much an exemplary world citizen as a global music icon.

Santana's star arrived in the era-defining late 1960s San Francisco Bay Area music scene with historic shows at the Fillmore and other storied venues. The group emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at the Woodstock festival in 1969, the same year that its self-titled debut LP Santana came out. Introducing Santana's first Top 10 hit, “Evil Ways,” the disc stayed on Billboard’s album chart for two years and was soon followed by two more classics — and Billboard #1 albums — Abraxas and Santana III.

Ever since, for more than forty years and almost as many albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won 10 GRAMMY® Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”) as well as three Latin GRAMMY’s. In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose website notes, “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.”

Among many other honors, Carlos Santana received Billboard Latin Music Awards’ 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor, and, he was bestowed Billboard’s Century Award in 1996. On December 8, 2013 he was the recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Award. Rolling Stone has also named him #15 on the magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” noting that “Santana's crystalline tone and clean arcing sustain make him the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.” And, with the 2014 release of Corazón, Santana surpassed the Rolling Stones and, along with Barbara Streisand, is one of only two music acts in Billboard history to score at least one Top Ten album for six consecutive decades from the 1960s on.

Santana’s new album Corazón (RCA/Sony Latin Iberia) released May 6, 2014 is a collaborative effort with the biggest names in Latin music including ChocQuibTown, Lila Downs, Gloria Estefan, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Juanes, Ziggy Marley, Miguel, Niña Pastori, Diego Torres, Samuel Rosa of Skank, Cindy Blackman Santana, Romeo Santos, Soledad, Wayne Shorter, and more. This is Santana’s first Latin music album of his iconic career. The album is certified U.S. Latin Double Platinum and was the top selling Latin Music album in the United States for six consecutive weeks. HBO Latino & HBO Latin America celebrated the release with multiple HBO specials through a two part TV event: a behind the scenes reality themed special called “Santana: De Corazón” and the airing of his mega concert and documentary “Santana-Corazón: Live From Mexico, Live It To Believe It.” On September 9, 2014 a DVD/Live CD of the event was released documenting the show in its entirety. Both specials, and the DVD, include performances from the all-star line up that graces the album Corazón.

This fall, Carlos Santana will release his memoir “The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light” which offers a page-turning tale of musical self-determination and inner self-discovery, with personal stories filled with colorful detail and life-affirming lessons. It's a profoundly inspiring tale of divine inspiration and musical fearlessness that does not balk at finding the humor in the world of high-flying fame, or at speaking plainly of Santana's personal revelations and the infinite possibility he sees in each person he meets.

Beyond music, in the lifestyle and entertainment realm, River Of Colors (ROC) has enjoyed tremendous success with the Carlos by Carlos Santana and Unity by Carlos Santana brand names. Founded in 1997, ROC is dedicated to bringing products to market that embody the passion and integrity of Carlos Santana—and that are true to his distinctive style and taste. ROC’s endeavors encompass products including shoes, handbags, headwear and sparkling wine, as well as signature musical instruments including electric guitars and hand percussion instruments. ROC products are distributed at better retail stores internationally. For more information, visit www.santana.com.

The arc of Santana’s performing and recording career is complemented by a lifelong devotion to social activism and humanitarian causes. The Milagro Foundation, originally established by Carlos Santana and his family in 1998, has granted more than five million dollars to non-profit programs supporting underserved children and youth in the areas of arts, education and health. Milagro means “miracle,” and the image of children as divine miracles of light and hope—gifts to our lives—is the inspiration behind its name.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.santana.com
Mcbride

Christian McBride

Christian McBride is a four-time GRAMMY® Award winning bassist/composer and the host of NPR's Jazz Night in America.

Since the early 1990's Christian McBride has recorded on over 300 dates as a sideman. However, he’s been a leader from his debut recording in 1995. Aside from various stints with Sting, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, John McLaughlin and George Duke, McBride has been artist-in-residence and artistic director with organizations such as Jazz Aspen, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Jazz Museum in Harlem, Jazz House Kids and NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center - Newark). McBride manages to tour consistently with his trio (with Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens) and his quintet, Inside Straight. He also fronts the Christian McBride Big Band, whose Mack Avenue recording, The Good Feeling, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2012—his third GRAMMY win overall. In addition, McBride hosts a show on Sirius/XM and DJs at clubs as DJ Brother Mister. McBride was recently named the host of Jazz Night in America, a new program from NPR Music, WBGO, and Jazz at Lincoln Center that showcases today’s thriving jazz scene across all public radio platforms. A weekly national radio program, Wednesday Night Video Webcasts from venues around the country, features in national news coverage, videos and more, Jazz Night in America is a hub for connecting audiences with the most inspiring performances, artists and stories in jazz.

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For more information about this artist, check out christianmcbride.com
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Chuck D

Chuck D is the leader and co-founder of legendary rap group Public Enemy. He redefined rap music and hip hop culture with the release of PE's explosive debut album, Yo Bum Rush The Show, in 1987. Since then, Public Enemy has completed 86 tours in 85 countries, and they're still going strong. Chuck D and Public Enemy were celebrated in the May 2004 issue of Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "fifty most important performers in rock & roll history."

Public Enemy has sold, to date, over 10 million albums, and for the first time in their career, were number 1 in iTunes downloads in the UK for their song "Harder Than You Think," a song penned by Chuck D and longtime collaborator Gary G-Wiz, and used as the 2012 Special Olympics signature song. In 2010, their song, "Fight the Power" was recognized by VH-1 as the greatest hip hop song in history. In 2013, Chuck D recognized by what is universally known as one of the highest honors in music: along with the Public Enemy, he was inducted into the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chuck D has been a national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League, and the National Alliance for African American Athletes. He is on the advisory board for the Sankofa Foundation, convened by Harry Belafonte to radicalize artists and orient them to social movement activism. Chuck has appeared in numerous public service announcements for national peace and the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He is featured in countless documentaries as an expert on several genres of music, sports, and history, including the critically-acclaimed documentary, Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome, a retrospective of the group and its indelible impact on American music. Chuck D is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, the author of two books, and he continues to work on commentary, music, and writing on diversity, rap, and reality.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.publicenemy.com
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Climbing PoeTree

Climbing PoeTree has been described as “A soulful expression.” by philosopher, author and intellectual, Cornel West. Over the last 13 years, Climbing PoeTree has infused our movements for justice with healing and imagination, inspiring thousands through their award-winning multimedia theater, dual-voice spoken word, visual art, sustainable touring, and community organizing.

Climbing PoeTree has been described as “A soulful expression.” by philosopher, author and intellectual, Cornel West. Over the last 13 years, Climbing PoeTree has infused our movements for justice with healing and imagination, inspiring thousands through their award-winning multimedia theater, dual-voice spoken word, visual art, sustainable touring, and community organizing. Co-creators Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman are cultural architects committed to reframing the story through multi-voice spoken word, hip hop, world music, and multimedia theater that translate deep research around the most pressing issues of our time into stunning artistry that catalyzes their audiences to activate the transformation they wish to cultivate within themselves and their communities. Alixa and Naima have independently organized 30 national and international tours, taking their work from South Africa to Cuba, the UK to Mexico, and throughout the U.S. including 11,000 miles toured on a bus converted to run on recycled vegetable oil. Climbing PoeTree has been experienced at diverse venues from the Brooklyn Academy of Music to the United Nations, Harvard University to Rikers Island Prison. They have been featured alongside visionaries such as Alice Walker, Danny Glover, Cornel West, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, and Angela Davis, who remarked, “Each time I have the pleasure of attending a performance by Climbing PoeTree, I feel enriched, renewed, and inspired. Alixa and Naima insist that poetry can change the world — and it is true that the urgency, power and beauty of their words impel us to keep striving for the radical futures toward which they gesture.”

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.climbingpoetree.com
Common

Common

With his multi-Grammy Award winning music career, his continued accolades in film winning a 2015 Academy Award, 2015 Golden Globe Award, 2015 NAACP Award, 2015 Independent Spirit Award and 2015 Critic’s Choice Award, Common has emerged as one of Hollywood's most sought after leading men.

His numerous accomplishments in film include starring on the silver screen in SMOKIN ACES, AMERICAN GANGSTER, WANTED, TERMINATOR SALVATION, DATE NIGHT, JUST WRIGHT, THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, LUV, and NOW YOU SEE ME among others. He was recently in Paramount’s SELMA, a film centered around the civil rights marches that changed America released January 9, 2015. He has won a 2015 Golden Globe Award for “Best Original Song In A Motion Picture” and a 2015 Academy Award for “Best Original Song” alongside John Legend, for ‘Glory’ from the motion picture SELMA. Legend and COMMON performed and co-wrote the song for the film. He will next be seen in Warner Bros.’ RUN ALL NIGHT being released in February 2015. He stars in the film with Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman. COMMON also starred on the small screen for 4 seasons of the acclaimed AMC TV series, HELL ON WHEELS. COMMON played the role of “Elam,” a freed slave who comes west in post-Civil War America seeking work on the Transcontinental Railroad. He has teamed up with SpikeTV for his next small screen project. He will be the host of “Framework”, the first-ever furniture design competition series premiering on January 6, 2015.

Prior to acting, COMMON rose to prominence as one of hip hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists. He has recorded 10 studio albums and garnered multiple Grammy Awards. He recently released his highly anticipated album Nobody’s Smiling on July 22, 2014 on Def Jam/Atrium Records. The Album debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Chart. In 2004, he partnered with Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce the album BE, which went on to garner four Grammy Award nominations. In 2007 COMMON released his critically acclaimed seventh album Finding Forever where it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and it went on to earn a Grammy award. His eighth album, Universal Mind Control, was released in 2008 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Album. COMMON’S highly anticipated ninth album, The Believer, The Dreamer, was released to critical acclaim by Warner Bros. Records on December 20th, 2011. On September 18th, 2012 Common joined forces with the rest of the G.O.O.D. Music crew to release the highly anticipated Cruel Summer album. Additional artists on the album include Kanye West, John Legend, Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Kid Cudi.

COMMON also offers an even younger generation a better understanding of self-respect and love, by utilizing the cultural relevance of hip hop in the children’s books he has written. His first book, entitled The MIRROR and ME, teaches lessons of life, the human spirit, and human nature. His follow-up book I Like You But I Love Me was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and in 2008 he released his third book, M.E. (Mixed Emotions). COMMON recently added to this list of accomplished written works with his revealing memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, which made the prestigious New York Times Best Seller list upon release. Every aspect of his life’s journey was unveiled in this deeply personal account of who COMMON is and the people, faith and events that have shaped and molded him into the award-winning, critically acclaimed conscious artist of today.

In addition to his music, film, and literary pursuits, COMMON has been the face, voice and inspiration behind some of the largest consumer brands in the country. COMMON was the voice of Gatorade’s G Series Sports Drink commercial that was launched during Super Bowl 2010. In 2009, he was announced as the face of the new Diesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave and he partnered with Microsoft as the inspiration and one of the designers to launch their Softwear clothing t-shirt line.

COMMON is a regularly requested guest speaker known to motivate and empower collegiate minds while speaking at prestigious universities across the country. In 2000, he launched his own philanthropic effort, The Common Ground Foundation, whose mission is dedicated to the empowerment and development of disadvantaged youth in urban communities by mentoring in three areas: character development, creative expression and healthy living.

Whether inspiring audiences through music, movies, television, books or his foundation, COMMON continues to break new ground, and remains to be one of hip-hop’s most innovative, positive voices.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.thinkcommon.com
Danny

Danny Glover

Danny Glover has been a commanding presence in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years.  From the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise in film to hit television shows such as ER, Glover has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s most consummate actors. 

Glover’s performances in such classic motion pictures as The Color Purple, Witness, and Places in the Heart, have not only showcased his talent and versatility but have also brought him critical and audience acclaim. Glover has used his success and artistic expression as platforms for instilling social awareness and action in individuals and communities. In 2005 Glover co-founded Louverture Films with writer/producer Joslyn Barnes to develop and produce films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. This New York-based company has produced a slate of progressive features and documentaries including Trouble the Water, which won the Grand Jury prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975; and the award-winning feature Bamako.
Glover has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice and access to health care and education. He has been politically active on issues involving educational programs for underserved communities in the United States, global human rights and AIDS. Glover currently serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Glover is a native of San Francisco, California, and a devoted father and grandfather. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and was trained at the Black Actors Workshop of the American Conservatory Theatre. In 2014, Glover received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from University of San Francisco.

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For more information about this artist, check out twitter.com/mrdannyglover
Deadprez

Dead Prez

With hard-hitting beats, politically aware rhymes, deft lyricism and strong song concepts, dead prez emerged in 2000 as one of rap’s most politically strident outfits. Stic.man and M-1’s music provided a voice for the voiceless, a sobering look at the global power structure that was crippling billions of people internationally and millions of Americans domestically.

The duo’s first two studio albums, 2000’s Lets Get Free and 2004’s RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, were accompanied by four acclaimed Turn Off The Radio mixtapes and solo albums. When the duo embarked upon recording its third studio project, they wanted to present a new outlook. “We had already built on the political struggle on the first record,” Stic says. “We had already built on the streets and how that relates on our second record, so we said, ‘What about the inner liberation? What about the consciousness in terms of our perspective and our paradigms and our inner awakening? How does that relate to freedom?’” That self-examination led to Information Age, dead prez’s first studio album in eight years. Stic and M-1 wondered if, during an age where information is easier to access than ever thanks to the Internet, people were taking advantage of that access. Were people tapping into their inner Google, so to speak? They wanted to present an aural juxtaposition of the technical age while using the ancient know-thyself-discovery process and deliver an album with a new, different timbre than their first two albums.

The sonics arrived in a futuristic form from producers Stic, Dirk Pate and others, complete with plenty of thump on the low end and ethereal elements. It was part of the progression, the next chapter in dead prez’s story. After all, there is no revolution without evolution. “When you talk about growing, expanding and awakening, it allows you to open up like a lotus to all the things that are here in the world,” M-1 says. “We intended to be perceived as artists who change, who are adapting, who are strategizing.”

True, the duo’s pointed societal unmasking appears on the urgent “A New Beginning” and the biting “Dirty White Girl,” but Information Age also represents a shift, a move toward being proactive. It’s about an awakening, coming into knowledge and discovering things that are
practical, useful and new. “What If The Lights Go Out,” for instance, was partially borne from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. “Our comment in that song is about being prepared, being prepared for a natural disaster, for things that are going on in this world with war, terrorism, police brutality, storms, global warming,” Stic says. “Don’t just sit around and worry about what the government’s going to do or not do and just protest, but have a proactive stance. We need to move from a protest mentality to a proactive mentality.” The proactive stance was influenced by, among other things, Jeet Kune Do. A martial art form that Bruce Lee helped create, it led to the song “No Way As The Way.” The discipline’s
foundation is having no limitation as limitation, to take what is useful and discard what is not useful. It presented an approach contrary to what Stic and M-1 had experienced in various religions and social dogmas, ones that tended to be more rigid than fluid.

“If I had been in a box, I couldn’t have understood the different schools of thought I’ve been exposed to,” Stic says. “In the song, I wanted to show what I appreciated in each group, the same way that with Bruce Lee we learned to appreciate elements of Western boxing. We appreciated
different Martial Arts because we’re not stuck in that rigid style of rules where it’s got to be one way.”

This perspective allowed dead prez to look forward to the future they desired, for the world for themselves and their families, as evidenced on “Learning Growing Changing,” “Time Travel” and “Take Me To The Future.” “We have to be able to imagine where we want to go,” Stic says.
“People want revolution, change, hope. But then you ask them to define it and it’s all over the place. We’re back at war. ‘Take Me To The Future’ was about visualizing what you want.’ If you can see it, we can get there. Let’s envision a future that’s better for the human race, for the
planet.” Since its groundbreaking debut album, 2000’s Lets Get Free, dead prez has used music as a platform to rail against societal injustice. Individually and collectively, Stic and M-1 have been involved in political and community activism, pushing for equal education for all people,
teaching the merits of eating healthily and illustrating changes needed in American society and throughout the world.

The group branded and viewed themselves as revolutionary. But unlike others with the label, dead prez seek change for the better in themselves, the status quo and those who challenge the status quo. Even though music was moving away from dead prez’s brand of edutainment at the
turn of the century, Stic and M-1 provided a valuable service.

“We are one of the people’s voices,” M-1 says. “We are a product of a community with high expectations and revolutionary aspirations who have been able to bear the brunt of an industry that does not want or does not need for this particular phenomenon to exist – the phenomenon of
the people’s voice. We are the voice of self-reflection in hip-hop, the challenge of growth and development in hip-hop. We have gladly taken on that responsibility.” Although it has been eight years since RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, dead prez remained active with a string of solo albums, mixtapes and outside production with Nas, Erykah Badu and others. Both Stic and M-1 also wrote and are writing books and are in-demand speakers. The time between albums may seem unusually long, but the group found many benefits during its hiatus.

“We needed that time to be able to genuinely express what we wanted in an album that’s talking about your own self-awakening,” Stic.man says. “I actually have to find my own self-awakening to speak on it with any amount of authenticity. We always set the bar ahead of where we are
when we start a project so we use our creative energy to bring us forward as human beings.” And with Information Age, dead prez continues pushing music – and humanity – forward

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For more information about this artist, check out https://deadprezblog.wordpress.com
Kool

DJ Kool Herc

The Legendary DJ Kool Herc is consistently credited as the founder of Hip-Hop. His mastery at the turntables known worldwide, as are his positive contributions to the evolution of Hip-Hop culture.

For more information about this artist, check out http://djkoolherc.com/
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Estelle

With all the accomplishments in Estelle’s career she understands that she could not have made it to this point without the help and guidance of family and mentors. Because of this, Estelle runs her foundation All of Me, which focuses on educating and expanding the horizons of young people through college scholarships and volunteer opportunities abroad. 

With all the accomplishments in Estelle’s career she understands that she could not have made it to this point without the help and guidance of family and mentors. Because of this, Estelle runs her foundation All of Me, which focuses on educating and expanding the horizons of young people through college scholarships and volunteer opportunities abroad.  One of the great achievement of the foundation was taking a group of Los Angeles young people, most of whom had never ventured beyond their city to West African country of Senegal. Showing them a world outside of their everyday life. No matter the success, Estelle is dedicated to growth and evolution, giving the world quality art that they can carry into their own lives.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.allofmefoundation.com
Jasiri

Jasiri X

Jasiri X first burst on the National and International Hip-Hop scene with the powerful hit song Free The Jena 6 which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named Hip-hop Political Song of the Year. His debut album, American History X, was named Album of the Year at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards.

Emcee and community activist Jasiri X is the creative force and artist behind the ground breaking internet news series, This Week with Jasiri X, which has garnered critical acclaim, thousands of subscribers, and millions of internet views. From the controversial viral video What if the Tea Party was Black?, to the hard hitting hilarity of Republican Woman…stay away from me, Jasiri X cleverly uses Hip-Hop to provide social commentary on a variety of issues. His videos have been featured on websites as diverse as Allhiphop.com and The Huffington Post and Jasiri has been a guest on BET Rap City, The Michael Baisden Show, Free Speech TV, Left of Black, and Russia Today.

Jasiri X first burst on the National and International Hip-Hop scene with the powerful hit song Free The Jena 6 which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named Hip-hop Political Song of the Year. His debut album, American History X, was named Album of the Year at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards. A six time Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Award winner, Jasiri recently became the first Hip-Hop artist to received the coveted August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship. A founding member of the anti-violence group One Hood, Jasiri started the 1Hood Media Academy to teach young African-American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves.

Jasiri has performed from New York City to Berlin, Germany and various cities in between, including recently in front of 30,000 at the Our Communities Our Jobs Rally in Los Angeles. He has toured colleges and universities across the country presenting his innovative workshop, How to Succeed in Hip-Hop Without Selling Your Soul, and is working on a book of the same name. He also blogs for Jack and Jill Politics, Daveyd.com, and The Black Youth Project. Jasiri X signed a record deal with Wandering Worx Entertainment and has recently released his album, Ascension with acclaimed producer Rel!g!on.

- See more at: http://jasirix.com/?page_id=67#sthash.AkSmQ9CI.dpuf

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For more information about this artist, check out http://jasirix.com
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Jesse Boykins III

Chicago-Born, Kingston, Jamaica, Miami and Brooklyn bred Jesse Boykins III is an innovative singer, songwriter and creative visionary. Jesse’s music is a medley of soul, electronic and indie rock, which he’s dubbed “World Soul.” His signature sound is the product of being an independent artist with freedom to experiment fearlessly. It is inspired by visual art, his Jamaican roots and world travels. 

When not creating music and touring the world, Jesse lectures at high schools and colleges, inspiring and empowering young people to passionately pursue their dreams.

Jesse burst into the music scene with his first release Dopamine: My Life On My Back EP, a soulful narrative on love, infatuation, lust, obsession, pain and loss. His critically acclaimed follow-up LP The Beauty Created boasts an unabashed admiration of romance. Jesse’s organic tone, innovative sound and live instrumentation on these two early projects solidified his defining place in the history of soul music. 2011’s Gold Panda-produced Way of a Wayfarer EP explores with greater depth his spiritual journey. 2014’s Love Apparatus was hailed by Pitchfork as “a warm, dreamy album that easily allows you to get lost in its glow”, while collaborations with innovative and eclectic artists including MachineDrum, Theophilus London, Tokimonsta, Nadastrom and Logic expanded his sound into new territory. Jesse’s highly-anticipated, full length Bartholomew mixtape and short film project, with features from Alex Isley, Tess Henley, Syd the Kyd and more, will be released Spring 2016.

Jesse’s magnetic live performances have earned him a loyal and growing global fanbase. He’s headlined throughout Europe, toured the U.S. with Jessie Ware in 2015, and opened on the mainstage at the 2014 Essence Festival in New Orleans with Jasmine Sullivan, K Michelle, Trey Songz and Nas. Jesse’s 2014 “Love Apparatus” album was featured on NPR Music’s “First Listen,” and he was filmed singing a soul-stirring acapella rendition of his song “4 U 2 B Free” for NPRandB’s “Field Sessions.” In addition to NPR, Jesse has collaborated with highly-visible music brands including Apple, Spotify and Pandora.

Jesse’s journey to create what has ultimately become his signature sound began early in life. Born February 1985 in Chicago, Jesse moved to Kingston, Jamaica as a toddler where he spent most of his childhood and later to Miami. Jesse’s work ethic and commitment to his craft is the integration of these strict family values and his life-long, deep adoration of music. Jesse began writing music at the tender age of 10. He’d pick up on everyday sounds that most people would fail to notice and use them as fuel to create melodies and songs that he would record on his Karaoke machine. He soon realized a desperate hunger to discover music other than what he was hearing on the radio. He researched the works of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Cliff, The Beatles and learned from them how to create depth in his lyrics. He studied their use of metaphor and imagery, examined how they used these techniques to create stories and worked these methods into his own personal style. In high school he and three friends formed a boy band called Perfect Gentlemen. The group toured local junior high schools and Jesse began developing his performing skills. Soon Jesse found himself recording with The Grammy Jazz ensemble and was recruited to attend The New School University in New York. At The New School Jesse perfected his skills as a writer, performer, arranger, producer and vocalist. He also studied with classical trainer Kamal Scott and Universal recording artist Bilal. Fueled by passion, he began experimenting with various genres of music. After graduation, Jesse turned full focus on creating the Jesse Boykins III brand.

Jesse’s world travels and unique sense of style have led him to pursue artistic endeavors beyond music and into the world of fashion: He has been featured in campaigns for luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman and Timberland Mark Makers; partnered with Converse and Nike athletic shoe and apparel companies; and designed a “Jesse Boykins III for Liebeskind Berlin” leather carrying bag.

When not creating music, touring the globe and making his mark in the fashion world, Jesse is dedicated to empowering and inspiring young people to pursue their dreams by lecturing at high schools and colleges throughout the country.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.jbiiimusic.com
Jessiewilliams

Jesse Williams

A native of Chicago and graduate of Temple University, Jesse began his professional career teaching American, African and African-American History in low income Philadelphia public charter schools. From there Jesse moved to Brooklyn, New York and, after working in Manhattan law firms, began his professional acting career.

A native of Chicago and graduate of Temple University, Jesse began his professional career teaching American, African and African-American History in low income Philadelphia public charter schools. From there Jesse moved to Brooklyn, New York and, after working in Manhattan law firms, began his professional acting career, performing off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theatre, under the direction of award-winning playwright Edward Albee in “The Sandbox.” Jesse can presently be seen as series regular, Dr. Jackson Avery in ABC's hit series “Grey’s Anatomy”. His feature credits include “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”, “Brooklyn’s Finest”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" and the Western “They Die By Dawn.”

Mr. Williams is the youngest member of the Board of Directors at The Advancement Project, a leading national civil rights, policy, communications and legal action organization committed to closing the opportunity gap. Jesse has also been a spokesperson for The California Endowment’s Sons and Brothers Campaign.

Jesse founded the production company, farWord Inc. out of a desire to examine and affect the relationship between historical/cultural comprehension and the ways in which media content influences our [collective and individual] health and behavior. Through the development of valuable curriculum, literary, film/TV and new media projects, farWord Inc. is dedicated to developing the honest and innovative presence necessary for cultural leadership, creative and psychological independence.

Under the farWord Inc. banner, Mr. Williams is an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia art project designed to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. Question Bridge: Black Males was an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival New Frontiers and continues to be exhibited in museums nationwide. A special Father-Son themed experience was screened on Fathers’ Day at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival. A full service website (QuestionBridge.com) has just launched to stimulate and support exchanges around identity among a critical mass of American Black men, before opening to all demographics.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://jesse-williams.net
John legend

John Legend

From a young age, Legend aspired to use his position in the entertainment industry as a platform for social change. In an essay competition Legend won at age 15, he wrote of his dream to become a star recording artist and to use his influence and resources to give back to his community. And that is exactly what he has done – throughout his career, Legend has committed his time, energy, and resources to social justice and equality.

Drawing inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King and his contemporaries, Legend believes that all children deserve a quality education, and with that, we will be closer to achieving equality. In 2007 Legend started the Show Me Campaign (showmecampaign.org), an organization committed to investing in solutions that have been proven to improve people’s lives and to give them the opportunities to survive, thrive and succeed.

The Show Me Campaign works to give every child access to a quality education as well as address systemic issues in our criminal justice system that disproportionately impact the poor, minorities, and disadvantaged. Through the promotion of proven solutions and programs in education such as Teach for America, Teach for All, Harlem Village Academies, and New Profit, Legend hopes to elevate and celebrate teachers, the single most important factor for student achievement in our schools.

In 2014, Legend launched LRNG (lrng.org) in partnership with The MacArthur Foundation and The National Writing Project. LRNG is a movement dedicated to inspiring innovation in the learning process to one that better reflects the world we live in today. LRNG invests in educators who are building tomorrow’s education system today.

Simultaneously, Legend is launching a campaign that will raise awareness and change policy and programming around our criminal justice system with the goal of disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.

Legend serves on the Board of Directors of Harlem Village Academies, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Stand for Children.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.johnlegend.com
Jussie

Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollet stars in the highly regarded television series, Empire.

His role allows him to blend both his acting and musical skills in this high-octane family drama which is a historic hit on FOX.

Smollett is actively involved in numerous charities and was named by the Black AIDS Institute as one of the 30 artists under 30 truly making a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He sits on the Board of Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) and the RuJohn Foundation.

An accomplished actor and singer, Jussie Smollett has been cooking up steam for some time. As a child, he co-starred in such feature films as The Mighty Ducks and Rob Reiner’s North, NBC’s television movie A Little Piece of Heaven, and alongside Halle Berry and Danny Glover in Alex Haley’s Emmy nominated Miniseries, Queen. 

In 2012, Smollett received rave reviews for his portrayal of ‘Magnus’, a gay medical student hosting his college friends in New York City. Most recently Jussie appeared as Barry Stassen in The Mindy Project and later this year can be seen as British racecar driver Tariq Hamilton in Born to Race: Fast Track, and in the indie film Ask Me Anything, alongside Britt Robertson and Justin Long. Smollett also stars in ABC’s Revenge.

On the music front, the singer/songwriter who Ebony Magazine has dubbed “…an urban Adam Levine brewed in a cup of MJ.” is currently recording his album, described as a mix of pop and soul with alternative hip-hop beats.

Born in Santa Rosa, California. Smollett now resides in Los Angeles, CA.

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For more information about this artist, check out twitter.com/JussieSmollett
Kristengraves

Kristen Graves

Kristen Graves is a singer/songwriter and humanitarian from Fairfield, Connecticut who was recently listed as part of the “new generation of folk music” in the New York Times. With catchy songs, a penchant for story telling, and inspiring lyrics, Kristen delights audiences across the country.

Constantly traveling and touring, Kristen plays nearly 200 shows per year having shared stages with Dar Williams, David Amram, Guy Davis, Peter Yarrow, and the late Pete Seeger.

Kristen has six albums and two EPs to her credit. Her newest release, Now Ain’t the Time for Tears, came out in June, 2014.
In addition to her touring and recording schedule, Kristen makes sure that there is always time to be part of the humanitarian organizations whose work she admires and is inspired by. Spending months living and working with Simply Smiles in Mexico and on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota creates the signature chemistry of Kristen’s performances: a stirring combination of music and justice.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.kristengraves.com/
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Louis York

After fifteen Saturdays spent in a studio, surrounded by bad Chinese food and good times, Louis York was born. The musical creation of Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, their first album is not one genre. Or influence. Or thought. Or message. It’s an exploration of it all. When stepping behind the mic for the first time in their careers, the Grammy nominated songwriter and producer decided to throw out every rule the business had told them to follow. 

It doesn’t matter how long, how many transitions or how many genres. Kelly and Harmony found themselves searching for one thing, and one thing alone – GREAT music.

Music they’re proud to introduce to the world. Music they believe does their rhythmic predecessors proud. And the two have tapped into their eclectic backgrounds and respective New York and St. Louis upbringings to do just that. Every vocal you hear is straight from Claude’s pipes. And every sound a product of Harmony’s hands. Their music truly comes from their hearts, written for the love of music and nothing else.

But words simply don’t do the justice a play button can. So enjoy.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.louisyork.com
Macklemore

Macklemore

For his support of marriage equality and human rights, Macklemore was honored with the ACLU of Washington's Civil Libertarian Award in October of 2014. He has also been featured in PSA’s by the organization promoting the ACLU card.

Macklemore has taken up environmental causes as well, in June 2014 he was featured in a public awareness campaign to clean up Seattle's Duwamish River, a federal Superfund Site and one of the most toxic waste sites in the nation. He also participated in an Anti-bullying campaign and was featured in the PSA’s with Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez in April of 2014.

Since its #2 Billboard Top 200 debut, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut album, ‘The Heist’ has reached Platinum sales, spawned two #1 hits, and earned the Seattle-based hip-hop duo four GRAMMY Awards including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Collaboration. The duo earned a standing ovation for their historic performance of their gay rights anthem "Same Love" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014. They played a rendition of their song with special guest Madonna while Queen Latifah officiated a wedding ceremony for 33 couples.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.macklemore.com
Mali

Mali Music

Mali Music reveres and respects the power of his chosen art form. The singer, songwriter, and producer recognized music's impact at a very young age, treasuring it as a gift. At only eleven-years-old and without any formal training, he would get behind the keyboard at a local Savannah, GA church and play for hours in front of a packed house every single Sunday. For the young performer, it became about inciting physical, emotional, and spiritual change with nothing more than a beat, a melody, and a smile.

Mali Music reveres and respects the power of his chosen art form. The singer, songwriter, and producer recognized music's impact at a very young age, treasuring it as a gift. At only eleven-years-old and without any formal training, he would get behind the keyboard at a local Savannah, GA church and play for hours in front of a packed house every single Sunday. For the young performer, it became about inciting physical, emotional, and spiritual change with nothing more than a beat, a melody, and a smile.
Decades later, nothing has changed on his full-length major label debut, Mali Is... [ByStorm Entertainment/RCA Records]. In fact, he's only gotten better at impacting emotions.
"I started making music so I could help put everyone at ease," he says. "Each Sunday that I came into this building, people were crying, praying, and repenting. My creativity had to be sharp to consistently come up with songs on the spot that reflected the emotion of the room. I had a responsibility early on, and I realized music could make you cry, make you dance, or even change your life."
Receiving Pro Tools and a computer as a gift for his fifteenth birthday, Mali divided his time between recording hundreds of songs in his bedroom and playing football at school. After casually making a MySpace page in 2008, he quickly developed a fervent following online. A flood of booking requests came in from around the country, and his statistics began to skyrocket. Fulfilling his fans' appetite, he released his first independent album, The Coming, selling out the pre-orders from his family's garage. Over the next year, he started playing sold out shows across the country leading up to the release of his sophomore effort The 2econd Coming in 2009. However, 2011 saw underground R&B's "best kept secret" get out.
Delivering a seismic performance at the BET Music Awards on the "Music Matters" stage, Mali effectively got the entire industry talking. He found himself meeting with superstar Akon the next morning as other executives clamored to learn more about this burgeoning phenomenon. He finally found the right home in 2013 though, signing to Mark Pitts’ ByStorm Entertainment label at RCA Records—the home of Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Miguel. After another earthshaking BET Music Awards performance and his Essence Music Festival debut that year, the mainstream wholeheartedly embraced Mali’s undeniable and uplifting blend of soulful R&B, invigorating hip-hop, and inspiring lyricism.
He goes on, "I wanted to earn respect as an artist from the world before I proclaim this triumphant message. I wanted to give everybody an introduction to who I am. I've got a beautiful story to tell. There have been struggles, and there have been victories. The whole time, there was always song. That's how you get Mali Music."
You'll get it after one listen to Mali Is… Carried by his impressive vocal range and dynamic production, the album harkens back to what he fondly refers to as "the times of Stevie Wonder and the age of Aretha Franklin."
Mali affirms, "I'm like a refresh button. I'm here to bring the power back to the person with the songs. It's about quality music, and it has to be distinguished, strong, and absolute."
That philosophy defines the album. In order to convey his own cohesive vision, Mali personally wrote every song on the record, while ByStorm Entertainment’s Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow serve as executive producers of the project along with Kirk Lightburn (ByStorm Entertainment) handling A&R. In addition to producing a handful of tracks himself, he also enlisted the production talents of the iconic Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis and D’Mile.
"No Fun Alone" produced by Duplessis, begins with smoky jazz piano and bluesy guitar licks before giving way to the singer's instantly recognizable croon. Lyrically, he takes the opportunity to remind everyone, "It's no fun alone." On the other end of the spectrum, "Heavy Love" skates along on upbeat percussion and tasteful melodic leads punctuated by a bombastic groove of live instrumentation.
He grabs the mic for truly pensive, passionate, and poetic bars during "Little Lady". A soulful refrain resounds as he solemnly rhymes, "Can't distinguish the laughter from the cries, bags under your eyes, so you use makeup to cover up what you cannot hide."
His raps build into a thought-provoking statement declaring, "You have daughters and they have sons who have daughters and those are the ones who have the opportunity to break the curses that make their mothers buy purses with letters on them to show they're not worthless." This isn't just a cry for a change in music but in culture at large, and he's not afraid to let it out—loud.
Meanwhile, the single "Beautiful" lives up to its name. Written and co-produced by Mali as well as Duplessis and Arden Altino, the track glides from an energetic verse into a heavenly refrain that instantly shines and soars—living up to its title.
"This song is for those people who never stopped believing and always saw me for who I was," he reveals. "It's a letter to the ones in your life who were there when you were nothing, they were there when you became something, and they were there when you lost everything you had again. It's a tribute to everybody who helped me become who I am. They're truly beautiful, and I needed to say it."
Mali performed “Beautiful” on American Idol, and it immediately soared up multiple charts. It reached #16 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs chart and #36 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, heralding his arrival. Moreover, it clinched the #2 spot on the iTunes Top R&B/Soul Songs chart, while topping both the Gospel Digital Songs chart and Hot Gospel songs chart. Still, it’s only one piece of the album.
On "Ready Aim," Mali nods to his hip-hop influences like Outkast and Drake with intricate and irresistible rapping. "I'm living my life," continues the artist. "I'm on this track, and I can't get off. It's like I'm on a train at full speed. Anybody can fire whatever they want at me, but you can't shoot me down. This one is like a fuel injector. It gives you that boost so you know you can accomplish your dreams."
Everything culminates on "I Believe". The track produced by Mali himself serves as the album's final destination, encapsulating his journey up to this point. Musically, a major piano melody entwines with a slick drum beat as Mali opens up yet again, professing "We all need faith." The track is as unique as it is uplifting.
“I’ve got something I need to share,” he asserts. “There’s a deeper message. It’s the heart of everything I do, and I want to get that to everyone possible. That’s the ultimate goal.”
In many ways, everything comes back to the album’s title. Mali Is… encompasses this enigmatic and enlightening artist. “My music is the real deal,” he goes on. “I put so much of myself into it, and that’s where the title came from. I believe everyone with a beating heart will be able to find themselves in some part of it.”
With his dedication and vision, he's about to tap into music's power like never before with Mali Is…
"I want to inspire others to inspire," he concludes. "It's not just about surviving, paying your taxes, doing what you do to pay rent, and calling that life. It's about living, thriving, and prospering. It's about following those pure and innate impulses to realize your full potential. I hope I can be the key to unlock that in somebody listening."

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For more information about this artist, check out www.malimusicnote.com
Meraba image

Marian Mereba

Mereba is a multi-faceted musician with the life story of a young rolling stone. Her unique blend of folk, soul, and rap music has set the stage for a new sound that Mereba has handcrafted as both producer and songwriter. After moving around as a child, the rolling stoner found a home in creation and observing her ever-changing surroundings. The range of influences she credits, ranging from Bob Dylan to Nina Simone to Kanye West, help her blend her craft into a new style of intimate world music.

For more information about this artist, check out marianmereba.bandcamp.com
Moni

Monie Love

Simone Johnson better known by her stage name, Monie Love is a female emcee and radio personality in the United States. Born July 2, 1970, in London at St. Stephens Hospital, Love grew up in Battersea South London and attended Notre Dame Secondary School for Girls and St. Francis Xavier Upper School.

In 1983, Love became captivated by the new so called “Hip Hop Fad” that invaded the airwaves in America and hit the British shores through videos from Malcolm McClaren to Melle Mel and The Furious Five.


At the age of 14, she became a breakdancer and often performed in Covent Garden Market Charing Cross tube station and Leicester SQ. Monie’s love for the Hip Hop culture evolved into Djing and Rapping. Her mastery of the English language propelled her to become a Lyricist.
In the late 1980’s, Love was signed to the London based record label --Chrysalis Records. She achieved chart success with hits: Grandpas Party, Monie in the Middle and It’s Shame. Love quickly became a well-respected figure in British hip hop, and made an impact with American Hip Hop audiences as a protégé of female American emcee Queen Latifah, as well as through her membership in the late 1980s/early 1990s Native Tongues. Love was one of the first BritHop artists to be signed and distributed worldwide by a major record label. Signed to Warner Brothers for the US and Canada, Love achieved acceptance among her U.S. peers and received Grammy nominations for Monie in the Middle and It’s a Shame.

In the 90’s, Monie took a break from the music scene to raise her growing family. She has been married and divorced twice and has four lovely children. These days, Monie can be loudly heard on Sirius XM with Ladies First Show. She is a budding author and this fall she will be releasing a cookbook with her brother, Monie & Wills Foodie Fav’s, and her memoire – No Love Lost.
Most recently, she formed The Ladies First Women’s Empowerment organization. Currently, Monie travels, performs, hosts and DJ’s. She is also the host for the high energy Video Mix Party with the Legendary DJ Wiz of Kid N Play.

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For more information about this artist, check out https://www.facebook.com/DaRealMonieLove
Sakofa bio pic

Q-Tip

Legendary hip-hop innovator and Grammy award winner Q-Tip first rose to prominence in 1988 as one of the founders of the trailblazing hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, whose cerebral wordplay, socially conscious themes, and intricate fusion of jazz and other genre-bending influences changed hip-hop’s lexicon forever. The group’s five- album legacy includes their groundbreaking1990 debut on Jive Records, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, as well as their follow-up classic Low End Theory in 1991.

Legendary hip-hop innovator and Grammy award winner Q-Tip first rose to prominence in 1988 as one of the founders of the trailblazing hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, whose cerebral wordplay, socially conscious themes, and intricate fusion of jazz and other genre-bending influences changed hip-hop’s lexicon forever. The group’s five- album legacy includes their groundbreaking1990 debut on Jive Records, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, as well as their follow-up classic Low End Theory in 1991.
A Tribe Called Quest disbanded in 1998 and Q-Tip launched his solo career
with Amplified soon after. The album spawned two hit singles, Grammy nominated “Vivrant Thing” and “Breathe & Stop.” In 2008, he released his sophomore album, The Renaissance, which garnered widespread critical acclaim and the 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. The long-awaited album Kamaal the Abstract was released in 2009 and was further proof of Q-Tip’s jazz sensibilities and skilled musicianship.
Revered by peers in and outside of hip hop’s tremendous orbit, Q-Tip’s long list of collaborators includes R.E.M., Nas, Will.i.am , Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Korn and Janet Jackson. Q-Tip won his first Grammy in 2006 for Best Dance Recording for his featured appearance on the Chemical Brothers’ “Galvanized.”
Q-Tip has taken his talents from the recording studio to the silver screen. His first major role was in the 1993 John Singleton film Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. In 2001, he co-wrote and played the leading role in Prison Song, and in 2004, he starred in Spike Lee’s She Hate Me. Q-Tip has also made appearances in the acclaimed comedy hit, The Dave Chappelle Show, and most recently in the films Cadillac
Records and Holy Rollers.

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Raheemdavaughn

Raheem DaVaughn

What Raheem has done over the past decade is carve out a lane for himself as one of this generation’s most beloved voices. The Maryland resident’s catalog of sultry melodies and passionate bedroom anthems have earned him a loyal fan base as well as a host of industry accolades, including three Grammy nominations.

For more information about this artist, check out www.facebook.com/RaheemDeVaughn.

Time travel is not possible yet but until then there will always be music. Certain songs just have an uncanny ability to transport us back to memorable moments. Whether those memories are loving, painful or lustful, Raheem DeVaughn has made a career out of tapping into people’s emotions by creating personal soundtracks to our love lives. For his fifth studio album, Love, Sex & Passion, the singer/songwriter wants to take listeners back to the future. “This album has a very ’90s throwback feel to it but with a futuristic 2020 spin on it,” Raheem says of his new opus. “It’s a little edgy and before its time in places. But this album will probably go down in history as my most sophisticated, erotic bedroom joint. I didn’t focus on what anybody else was doing versus what I just wanted to do.”

What Raheem has done over the past decade is carve out a lane for himself as one of this generation’s most beloved voices. The Maryland resident’s catalog of sultry melodies and passionate bedroom anthems have earned him a loyal fan base as well as a host of industry accolades, including three Grammy nominations. Originally signed to Jive Records, Raheem’s first three albums—The Love Experience (2005), Love Behind the Melody (2008) and The Love & War MasterPeace (2010)—resulted in chart-topping singles like “You,” “Customer” and the female-empowerment anthem “Woman.” Stepping out as an independent artist for his 2013 release, A Place Called Love Land, Raheem remained consistent in his artistry and the same holds true with Love, Sex & Passion.

As the title suggests, the album is centered on the emotional and physical chemistry that happens between a man and woman. The brutally honest “All I Know” reveals the male perspective on being a sidepiece, while the bluesy “When You Love Someone” is classic Raheem, as the crooner skillfully captures the complicated nuances of romance. He even breaks from the norm and begs on record for the first time with the impassioned “Baby Come Back” before pushing the envelope on his vulnerability even further on the confessional “I Miss Your Sex.” Raheem is known for his anthems and doesn’t disappoint here. “Black Ice Cream” is his ode to ebony skin that’s sure to pique the interest of the beautiful, radiant, dark-skinned women of the world. Then of course there’s the lead single, “Queen,” which praises the strength and power of what it means to be a woman.

“I approached this album as if I was recording my first all over again not in a sense where I tried to top it but in an organic sense where I know what I’m known for,” explains Raheem, who initially penned “Queen” for Aretha Franklin. “I know what women appreciate about my music, so with the current climate of hip-hop and R&B being a lot more disrespectful towards women, I thought it was a great time to put out a song that reminds people across all the generations what women represent for us.”

That’s especially important for Raheem because of the strong female figures in his own life. Raised primarily by his mother, who worked in law enforcement, Raheem experienced both discipline and love, which set the groundwork for his understanding and appreciation of the opposite sex. Although Raheem’s father, famed jazz cellist Abdul Wadud, wasn’t in the household, he did play a role in inspiring Raheem to pursue music and later launch his own indie label, 368 Music Group. “My dad put out an album called By Myself in the ’70s on his own, so he knows what it is to be an independent artist,” says Raheem. “At this point in my life he gives me great advice and is a great listener because he’s from that same walk of life.”

Being relatable is something that Raheem prides himself on. A man of the people, he communicates regularly with fans on social media and during his weekly self-titled online radio show on WPBradio.com. It’s all tied to the singer never forgetting where he came from. “I wasn’t always ‘Raheem DeVaughn,’” he says. “I’m that kid who sold sneakers at Foot Action, sold records at Tower Records, did telemarketing and knocking on your door in 90 degree weather trying to sell you a fence. I come from humble beginnings and because I been all those people I can relate to all those people. Plus, all those different jobs had one thing in common and that was customer service and even being Raheem DeVaughn I’m still providing a service. My fans are my customers.”

With the recent launch of his Love Life Foundation, the budding humanitarian is ready to give back more than just music to his fans. “There’s still a lot to learn but I feel like I mastered a major part of my life as a human being,” he says of the charity. “The legacy you build is not about right now it’s what people say about you in history and you’re writing history every day. I got a key to the city from the Mayor of DC back in 2011, which is unheard of this early in my career. It’s an honor and I don’t take it for granted. It just makes me wonder what’s next because I feel like I’m still a fetus in this industry. Other artists out there have 80 records and this only my fifth album; I got a lot of music and catching up to do.”

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Rebel

Rebel Diaz

Fronted by MC’s Rodstarz, and MC/Producer G1, Rebel Diaz shows us the true global power of Hip-Hop. After first performing at an immigrant rights march in New York City in 2006 in front of a half million people, the bilingual crew has taken the international community by storm with their explosive live shows. With influences ranging from Chicago house to South American folk, Rebel Diaz combines classic boom bap tradition with Hip-Hop’s global impact. 

The group’s versatility has allowed for them to share the stage with the likes of Common, Mos Def, and Public Enemy, while feeling right at home with acts like Rage Against the Machine and Calle 13. Multiple tours throughout Europe and Latin America have only solidified their international appeal.

With roots in Chicago, and now based in the South Bronx, NY, Rebel Diaz has also piqued the interest of the academic community with their poignant social commentary and energetic performances. They have spent the last 8 years visiting dozens of colleges and universities, facilitating workshops, speaking on panels, and performing at national conferences.

Building on this growing network of positive young people in Hip-Hop, the group opened a community arts center in the South Bronx in 2008, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective (RDACBX). On the heals of their critically acclaimed Otro Guerrillero mixtape series, and 2011′s #Occupy The Airwaves mixtape, Rebel Diaz released their debut album, The Radical Dilemma, on December 4, 2013.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://rebeldiaz.blogspot.com
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Robert Glasper

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Robert Glasper had a strong musical influence in his mother, who played piano and sang gospel music in church as well as in jazz and blues clubs in Houston. By the age of twelve, he was playing piano in church and often accompanied his mother in clubs. Raised on gospel, Motown, and R&B, by his teens he was listening to jazz, rock, pop and hip hop.

He attended the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and moved to New York City to study at New School University. While still in school he was already playing with Christian McBride and Kenny Garrett, and went on to play with Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, and Roy Hargrove.

After releasing his debut album Mood on the Fresh Sound label in 2003 followed by two buzzed about Blue Note albums with his acoustic Trio—Canvas (2005) and In My Element (2007)—Glasper perfectly captured his unique duality with Double-Booked (2009), an album that juxtaposed his Trio and Experiment bands, and earned the keyboardist his first GRAMMY nomination.

The 2012 release of Black Radio laid out a new paradigm for creative music, reaching beyond entrenched genre boundaries to create a singular vision that drew from all reaches of contemporary black music and beyond. The album was met with both commercial success (a #10 debut on Billboard's Top Current Albums chart) and wide acclaim, with Rolling Stone declaring “Glasper heads down the fraught path of hip-hop jazz and gets it right,” adding that “with music this smart and inviting, the implied diss of mainstream doesn’t feel like sour grapes; it feels like a blueprint forward.”

Black Radio featured collaborations with vocalists including Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, and yasiin bey, and Glasper followed the album release with TV appearances on CBS Late Show With David Letterman, NBC Tonight Show With Jay Leno and NBC Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The album kept earning accolades all the way to the 2013 GRAMMY Awards where Black Radio was awarded Best R&B Album.

Robert Glasper Experiment now ups the ante with the release of Black Radio 2, another genre-defying effort that takes the Black Radio blueprint and builds to even greater heights. The core remains the Experiment, as astoundingly versatile a band as has ever existed, featuring Robert Glasper on keyboards, Derrick Hodge on bass, Mark Colenburg on drums, and Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone. Providing the vocals throughout is another jaw-dropping roll call of vocalists including Common, Patrick Stump, Brandy, Jill Scott, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, Luke James, Emeli Sandé, Lalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.robertglasper.com
Rosario

Rosario Dawson

She has garnered praise not only for her numerous leading roles, but also for her work with a range of influential social, humanitarian and environmental organizations.

As an active board member of V- Day, an organization founded by Eve Ensler, she travels worldwide working to stop violence against women. Most recently, Dawson co-founded STUDIO 189, a social enterprise that consists of creative individuals seeking to provide a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content through an eCommerce shopping site, a supporting agency and an artisan- produced Fashion Rising Collection, which was launched in support of V- Day’s One Billion Rising campaign. STUDIO 189 focuses on creating opportunities for empowerment, education and employment of artisans and creative individuals.
In 2004, Dawson co-founded Voto Latino, a nonpartisan organization that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their communities. Dawson also serves on a board of the Lower Eastside Girls Club in Manhattan and is an ardent environmentalist doing work with a variety of organizations including the Environmental Media Association and Global Green. She is a longtime supporter of amfAR, generously donating her time and lending her presence to events such as amfAR Milano, Cinema Against AIDS, and the amfAR New York Gala.
Dawson made her film debut in 1995 movie Kids and since been in Men in Black II, The 25th Hour, Sin City, Rent, Seven Pounds, Unstoppable, Gimme Shelter and the Danny Boyle thriller Trance. In 2014, Dawson starred in the critically acclaimed comedy TopFive, written and directed by Chris Rock, for which she received a Critics’ Choice Award Nomination. Dawson will next be seen in upcoming series “Daredevil”, based on Marvel comic series of the same name.

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For more information about this artist, check out twitter.com/rosariodawson
Sankofanew1

Shaka Senghor

Shaka Senghor is a leading voice in criminal justice reform and the Director of Strategy for #Cut50, a national bipartisan initiative to safely and smartly reduce the prison population by 50 percent by 2025. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs, is a redemption story told through a stunningly human portrait of what it's like to grow up in the gravitational pull of poverty, violence, fear, and hopelessness. 

It's an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and second chances, one that reminds us that our worst deeds don't define who we are or what we can contribute to the world. His story has inspired thousands and serves as a powerful testament to the power of hope, compassion and unconditional love.

Oprah Winfrey has referred to her interview with Senghor for Super Soul Sunday as “one of the best I’ve ever had—not just in my career, but in my life… His story touched my soul.” Senghor’s TED Talk, which he delivered at TED’s 30th Anniversary Conference, received a standing ovation and has been viewed more than 1.2 million times; TED later featured his talk in its “Year in Ideas” roundup, a collection of the most powerful TED Talks of 2014.

Senghor is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2015 Manchester University Innovator of the Year Award and the 2012 Black Male Engagement (BMe) Leadership Award. He was a 2014 TED Prize finalist for The Atonement Project, which is designed to help victims and violent offenders heal through the power of the arts. Senghor is a former MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, and a current Fellow in the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. He has taught at the University of Michigan and shares his story of redemption around the world.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.ShakaSenghor.com
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Shantell Martin

The work of Shantell Martin is a meditation of lines; a language of characters, creatures and messages that invite her viewers to share a role in her creative process. Part autobiographical, and part dreamlike whimsy, Martin has created her own world that bridges fine art, performance art, technology and the everyday experience -- conversations, objects and places. Her artwork has appeared in the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora, Bata Show Museum and a number of private galleries.

Martin’s diverse portfolio illustrates her gift of navigating many worlds. From early beginnings with live performance drawing in the mega clubs of Tokyo, Martin made her way to New York where she pushed the limits of her trademark continuous line. Her drawings have transformed everything from walls, found objects, sneakers, cars and circuit boards. In 2015, she became an artist in residence at the MIT Media Lab where she explores cross-disciplinary ways to express her artform, such as using drawing to visualize data. She is an Adjunct Professor and former Artist in Residence at NYU’s ITP (Tisch School of the Arts) where she teaches her students to integrate drawing with technology, including cameras, music, and code. She is also a fellow at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University.

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For more information about this artist, check out www.shantellmartin.com
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Sweet Honey In The Rock

Sweet Honey In The Rock remains among the most vibrant, versatile and ever relevant musical collectives in music today; both as a performance ensemble and as an ambassadorial African American organization founded on the triumvirate missions of empowerment, education and entertainment.

Currently consisting of members Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, NitanjuBolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, American Sign Language interpreter Shirley Childress (who continues the group’s distinct and long-standing commitment to the deaf community), and featured musician Romeir Mendez on upright acoustic bass and electric bass. Sweet Honey In The Rock is a powerful and unique concert entity that fuses the elastic 360 degree possibilities of the human voice with a theatrical flair that keeps avid audiences returning for more year after year. Kinetic, cultured and connected, this internationally renowned Grammy Award ® nominated female a cappella vocal quartet has a history of over four decades of distinguished service. They have created positive, loving, and socially conscious message music that matters as it pertains to spiritual fortification, and consistently taken an activist stance toward making this planet a better place for all in which to live. Thus, the theme of the group’s 24th recording, #LoveInEvolution, released earlier this year, and of their most contemporary projects to date.

For more information go to: www.sweethoneyintherock.org

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For more information about this artist, check out www.sweethoneyintherock.org
Toni

Toni Blackman

Toni Blackman, a highly respected artist and social entrepreneur, is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the US Department of State.

She is currently an artist with the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute, a fellow in the Echoing Green Foundation’s Thought Leadership Cohort and an in demand speaker, performer and workshop leader. A Soros/OSI fellowship alum, creator of Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop and Rhyme Like A Girl, Toni’s work has led her to be known as one of the world’s leading
Hip Hop activists. This influence led to Toni being selected as a 2012 DOVE soap Real Woman Honoree and being tapped to curate SOURCE 360’s International Hip Hop Show. She has worked in over 34 different countries and spoken at ASPEN Institute’s World Summit on Creativity in Oman, the Pio Manzu Conference in Italy, the World Social Forum in Barcelona, as a featured speaker at Chicago Ideas Week, at TEDx UMass at Amherst and most recently at Rockefeller Plaza for NBC Universal’s B.P.A. Conference. Toni earned her B.A. and M.A. at Howard University. Toni was recently commissioned by the National Black Arts Festival to write and present her new theater piece, Wisdom of the Cypher, and will release the book version along with her Hip Hop Meditation project late 2014. She has shared stages with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, KRS One, Vernon Reid, Meshell, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and Youssou Ndour; worked with producer/engineer Gordon Williams and Lee Stone; and appeared on Universal Records Jazz (France), BMG/Novus, Big Dada Recordings and NovaRecords.This visionary artist leads freestyle masterclasses, rap cyphers, and has developed innovative approaches to using the cypher as a concept for community building, leadership development and healing.

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.toniblackman.com
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Ty Dolla $ign

Born Tyrone Griffin Jr., Ty Dolla $ign has been an in-demand writer, producer, and featured artist since helming YG’s 2010 smash, “Toot It and Boot It (feat. Ty Dolla $ign).”

 Since then, his credits include Chris Brown’s #1 hit, “Loyal,” Kanye West’s “Real Friends” and “Faded," Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home,” Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds (with Kanye West & Paul McCartney)” as well as work with Big Sean “Play No Games (feat. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign),” Trey Songz (“Fumble”), B.o.B (“HeadBand (feat. 2 Chainz)”), and Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg, whose "Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)” proved a GRAMMY® Award-nominated blockbuster. His “BEACH HOUSE” mixtape & EP series earned him further attention, leading Rolling Stone to call Ty one of the “10 New Artists You Need To Know in 2014.”

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Ushersankofa

Usher

Realizing that with success comes responsibility. Usher has proven
to be a major philanthropic force. Founded in 1999, his New Look
Foundation empowers youth from impoverished communities to
become leaders.

Challenging himself creatively and testing musical boundaries are
characteristics that have defined Usher's career since he was first
discovered twenty years ago on Star Search. Usher has been
ranked by the Recording Industry Assn. of America as one of the
best-selling artists in American music history, having sold over 65
million albums worldwide. He has won numerous awards
including 8 Grammy Awards and was named the #1 Hot 100 artist
of the 2000s decade. Billboard named him the second most
successful artist of the 2000s decade, with his career-propelling
2004 album “Confessions” being ranked as the top solo album of
the 2000s decade. Usher has attained nine Hot 100 #1 hits (all as a
lead artist) and 18 Hot 100 top-10 singles.

This year is proving to be a big year for Usher not only in Music
but also in Film and his philanthropic endeavors. Musically,
Usher finished his “ The UR Experience” world tour and is
recording his much anticipated 8th studio album which is set for
release next year.

Recently Usher completed the filming of his role as boxer Sugar
Ray Leonard in the upcoming film “Hands of Stone,” a biopic of
boxer Roberto Duran played by Edgar Ramirez and costars Robert
De Niro which is due in theaters later this year. Usher is also
currently performing on the European leg of his world tour entitled
“The UR Experience”. In addition, Usher completed 2 seasons as a
coach on NBC's Emmy award winning hit TV show "The Voice"
where he proved his top-notch coaching capability by mentoring
Josh Kaufman who became the champion of season 6.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Usher has been honored by
the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Trumpet Foundation, Do
Something, the NAACP, and as the 2010 Ford Freedom Award
Scholar. Usher's business ventures include a best-selling line of
fragrances, and a business venture with RBMG (Raymond Braun
Media Group).

Social Media Statistics

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usher)

Likes -

Twitter (https://twitter.com/usher)

Followers - 10.1 million

Instagram (https://instagram.com/howuseeit/)

Followers - 2.7 million

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For more information about this artist, check out http://www.ushersnewlook.org
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V. Bozeman

Grammy-nominated singer V. Bozeman disrupts conventions, burns expectations, and emanates extreme energy in its purest form. Take one glance at her, and you’ll see strikingly natural beauty augmented by runway-ready features and edgy modern style. Musically, she doesn’t flip the script so much as rewrite it altogether. After one listen, you’ll hear feral intensity, focused vision, and unnervingly dynamic talent that turned musical innovators like Babyface, CeeLo Green, and Timbaland into fans, creative collaborators, and supporters.

Disruption is the first step towards change.

Grammy-nominated singer V. Bozeman disrupts conventions, burns expectations, and emanates extreme energy in its purest form. Take one glance at her, and you’ll see strikingly natural beauty augmented by runway-ready features and edgy modern style. Musically, she doesn’t flip the script so much as rewrite it altogether. After one listen, you’ll hear feral intensity, focused vision, and unnervingly dynamic talent that turned musical innovators like Babyface, CeeLo Green, and Timbaland into fans, creative collaborators, and supporters.

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, the sounds of Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston drowned out the gunfire outside of Bozeman’s window. She took the stage for the first time in church at four years old, and immediately realized her purpose in the world. After touring the globe with the Crenshaw High School choir, she formally embarked on her musical journey. In the early stages of her career, V briefly fronted a girl-group as part of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ Soda Pop label; worked for a short time with CeeLo Green; and had viral notoriety as soul man Timothy Bloom’s vocal partner in the steamy “’Till The End Of Time.”
However, it would be super producer Timbaland who properly set the stage for the world to get to know V. “We actually met years ago, and Timbaland told me he was going to come back for me,” recalls V. “I got a random call from him, and we were in the studio a week later. I always wanted to work with him. He knows how to bring the past, present, and future together. It was magic.”

Timbaland signed V. to his Mosley Music Group label, a partnership with Epic Records, and V. got to work recording immediately. Early sessions produced the lead single from her solo debut, “Smile” - a soulful, infectious up-tempo pairing her with Timbaland. “What excites me about V. is that she is excitement,” says Timbaland. “There’s nobody that you heard of with a tone like her in years. She is a diamond that’s been sitting there, and good ol’ Timbo discovered it. And she’s the best vocalist I’ve seen in years - meaning singing songs that touch your soul. She’s amazing. She’s groundbreaking.”

Keeping her ears, eyes, and heart open to social matters, current events, and injustices within society, V. has used her voice and art to contribute to change, such as the powerful and provocative viral video for the CeeLo Green-penned “Race Jones” released in the wake of the Ferguson uprisings in 2014. Blown away by V.’s vocal and visual performance, Timbaland contacted Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels and shared the clip. V. Immediately found herself on another exciting journey, this time to Chicago, where she was asked to audition for Daniels’ then brand new FOX drama, Empire. V. not only landed a recurring role, but also had the distinction of opening the Empire series premiere with the heart-wrenching ballad “What Is Love”, captivating both viewers and listeners, and garnering the second highest downloads on the original Empire Pilot EP. The official soundtrack, also containing the single, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and has since been officially certified Gold.

In addition to reprising her role on the hit series Empire for Season 2 this Fall, V. joins Raheem DeVaughn and Leela James on the Love 'n Soul Experience tour, and works with Timbaland to put the final touches on her debut album. She promises a project with ballads of love, loss, and hope that showcase the soul and strength of her rich vocal tone; balanced with empowering up tempos that remind us all that V. is definitely a rose who found its way through the concrete. She’s not afraid to go anywhere artistically. “There can still be a message within music,” she concludes. “Art is still about substance. This is my story. This is who I am.”

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For more information about this artist, check out V. Bozeman