e.g. bailey: Behind the scenes with the spoken word innovator

24 February 2010 at 12:15 pm (Music, News, Press, Releases, Spoken Word, Theatre) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

e.g. bailey: Behind the scenes with the spoken word innovator
By Rebecca McDonald (B Fresh), City Pages

The Twin Cities would not be the same without e.g. bailey. Even if you’ve never met him, you’ve most likely heard his voice on the radio, experienced one of his many theatrical productions or concerts and albums he has produced through Tru Ruts Endeavors/Speakeasy Records. He is co-owner of these organizations with his wife, Sha Cage, another staple poet in the community. There is never a lack of excitement in e.g.’s life, so Gimme Noise went behind the scenes to share in his journey to the release of his debut full-length album American Afrikan this past Saturday (pics here).

Gimme Noise: What has your journey in the Twin Cities poet’s scene been like since you moved here many years ago?

e.g. bailey: You end up in a place by circumstance and sometimes you realize that it was where you were meant to be. I had been here once as a kid but only remembered that after I had moved here. Like any good romantic, I was following my heart across the Midwest, and ended up in Fargo then Minneapolis. I dove into acting classes, worked in a warehouse and debated the eternal question of ‘L.A. or not L.A.’ and a job working for Prince sealed the deal. Prince had just released a book of poetry, so I used it as an excuse to start an open mic at the New Power Generation store. It was my first connection with the poetry scene here. All kinds of folks used to come through. It was a Prince store so there were some wild moments, but I met some folks I’d later work with in the spoken word community, like Anika and Yolanda ‘Right On’ Jackson.

Finally, I had to make a decision. I could keep making Prince the best artist he could be (which obviously he didn’t need much help with) or be the artist I needed to be. So I resigned, paid two months rent, and by a stroke of luck ended up with Sirius B. It’s a long story since then but that connection with Sirius B has made all the difference in doing what I do now. I connected with with folks like J. Otis Powell!, Ani Sabare, Rene Ford, Carolyn Holbrook (S.A.S.E.), Patrick Scully, and organizations like the Walker Art Center, Pillsbury, and Intermedia Arts. I couldn’t have found a better community to be doing art. I was embraced beyond what I could have imagined. Without it I probably would have L.A. or busted. And I’m not sure I would being doing spoken word.

GN: Describe your new project, “American Afrikan,” which you celebrated the release of on Saturday?

eg: ‘American Afrikan’ is a historical and symbolic experience of being an Afrikan in America, using the medium of spoken word. Sometimes I use spoken word to create non-linear narratives, like I did with ‘Blues for Nina,’ a spoken word theatre piece about Nina Simone; or the 20 minute short film ‘village blues’ about returning to Afrika; or ‘Patriot Acts,’ merging the different disciplines of theatre, dance and film with spoken word to present post-9/11 views of America. I am always looking at ways to push the boundaries of spoken word, and trying to innovate the art form. With this project, I wanted to see if it was possible to create a spoken word album that would present the many different forms of spoken word, and ways of experiencing spoken word, but still be able to engage the audience in some kind of a story.

GN: Why is this project special to you and others who performed with you on Saturday?

eg: I’ve fallen in love with this project the way you fall in love with your first child. You’re just amazed at how it has grown from a little seed of an idea. It’s so much a part of you but at the same time it becomes something larger than you. It’s a tribute not only to this amazing tradition of spoken word and the artists that laid the foundation, like Baraka, the Last Poets, Ginsberg, but also a tribute to my family and my history. That’s why you see images of my family throughout, and hear their voices on the album. And why it’s dedicated to my brother who died while I was making the album. I also wanted to celebrate the abundance of Afrikan talent in the community, and tell our story through this medium which is part of our griot tradition. I received a call yesterday from one of the artists, and after hearing the album, thanked me for creating it. You can’t ask for anything more special than that.

GN: You are very well known nationally and travel frequently with your poetry. In comparison to other cities, what have you seen as a unique element of the Twin Cities scene?

eg: I’ve said for years that the spoken word community in Minnesota is one of the top five in the nation. Though we’re relatively small and haven’t received the kind of attention other communities have, it is one of richest, most diverse and innovative spoken word communities in the country. I’ve also always felt that we’re one of the most musical spoken word communities because of our close relationship with the music scene here. A number of artists have explored and are exploring spoken word with music, but we have a long history of spoken word bands and collectives here from Ancestor Energy to NOW! to Arkology to Poet Tree to Trektah Beam Express to FIRE. We’ve also frequently merged it with performance art and theatre. That’s why it’s possible to make an album like this. Without all those experiences working with musicians, and experiments with different disciplines it wouldn’t be possible to synthesize all of it. I think that Minnesota is finally starting to get the respect it deserves in spoken word, especially with how well the Slam community is doing and winning the National Poetry Slam [this past year]. It shows that we haven’t just been paying lip service to the talent here.

GN: What advice do you have for artists who want to be career artists, to pursue their dreams in music/poetry?

eg: Create your art and don’t be deterred, even if you don’t get the response or support at first. But make sure you love what you do. The career will come, for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s not what we dream it to be. I thought I would be more of an actor or a writer. I never expected to be a spoken word artist. It’s just something I always loved, poetry with music, even when I was in high school listening to Jim Morrison, then discovering the Last Poets, then the Beats, then Amiri and so on. I didn’t know it was actually still being done, that you could do it as a career, or even that it was called spoken word. That was much later, after I had already fallen in love with it. Stick with what you do, if it’s meant to be your work, it will happen. If it’s not, you’ll still be rewarded by doing it.

Originally posted on City Pages on 24 February 2010.

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Show us your best poet face!

24 February 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, Press, Releases, Shows, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

e.g. bailey at The Bedlam: Show us your best poet face!

e.g. bailey celebrated the release of his debut spoken word album “American Afrikan” with an innovative, multi-media performance Saturday night at the Bedlam Theater with fellow poets, musicians and supporters. The evening featured the following: Bryan Berry, Kahlil Brewington, Aimee Bryant, Sha Cage, Chris Cox, Chantz, Guante, Ibe Kaba, M.anifest, Mankwe Ndosi, J. Otis Powell!, Sankaradjeki, See More Perspective, Andy Shaffer, DJ Stage One, Dameun Strange, Truthmaze + more. PHOTOS BY B FRESH PHOTOGRAPHY

Originally posted on City Pages on 24 February 2010.

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E.G. Bailey + Sha Cage on Write On RaDio!

18 February 2010 at 11:00 am (Music, News, Press, Radio, Releases, Shows, Spoken Word) (, , , , , )

e.g. bailey and Sha Cage join us to talk about the CD release party for e.g.’s new album, “American Afrikan,” an encyclopedic mix of spoken word, hip hop, funk, jazz, and more. The release party is Saturday, Feb. 20th starting at 9:30 p.m. at Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and will feature performances by Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, J. Otis Powell, Truthmaze, and more.

Also on this show, we talk with Marisha Chamberlain about her new novel The Rose Variations, the story of Rose McGregor, a talented composer navigating academia in the early days of feminism. Marisha Chamberlain is also a playwright, poet, and librettist.

Listen to interview here.

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‘American Afrikan’ E.G. Bailey CD Release

16 February 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Press, Recordings, Releases, Shows, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , )

‘American Afrikan’ E.G. Bailey CD Release

‘American Afrikan’ is not just a CD release party, but also a musical celebration of Black History that brings together some of the leading African and African American performers in the Twin Cities. Spoken Word innovator E.G. Bailey’s CD is a musical exploration of language and blows out of the water traditional concepts of old school ‘spoken word’ featuring M.anifest, Truthmaze, Members of Junkyard Empire, Sha Cage, Guante, Mankwe Ndosi, J. Otis Powell!, Chantz, See More Perspective, Dameun Strange, Andy Shafer, and more.

When: February 20 : 10 p.m.
Price: $5
Event Phone Number: 612-341-1038
http://www.bedlamtheatre.org

Originally posted on Metro Mix Twin Cities on 16 February 2010.

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‘Twin Towers’ review on 612 to 651

11 September 2009 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Press, Releases, Spoken Word) (, , , , )

E.G. Bailey: “Twin Towers”
by Justin Schell

On this 8th anniversary of the events of 9/11, e.g. bailey has crafted “Twin Towers” an eloquent statement that both captures the emotions and experiences of 9/11 as well as how to respond and remember them.

The piece opens with singer, guitarist and fellow Trú Rúts artist Chastity Brown. She delivers the first part of bailey’s poem, a collage of observations that sound like fragments of a broken news report, the frame through which many saw the events of 9/11.

No death today
No war
No justice come undone
Reports say peace is on the way.

Yet this news report flips the usual broadcasts of death and destruction associated with 9/11, setting the stage for a poem that looks forward to something greater, something better than images of smoking towers. Brown’s dirge-like intonations of “And I watched the buildings crumble,” however, delivered with a voice that itself sounds ash-choked, leads into the body of the poem and takes the listener back to 2001.

bailey does well to navigate the over-loaded and hyper-emotional associations with 9/11, be it jingoistic drum rolls of war, uncritical celebrations and memorializations a la “Patriot Day,” or reactionary conspiracy theories. Instead, he focuses on the bewildering experience of that day, bodies and towers falling from the Manhattan sky. He wonders “whose truth to trust” as the poem’s narrator goes “stumbling through the fog” (one of more than just ash, smoke, and debris), while children and lovers suddenly find themselves alone.

The other theme of “Twin Towers” is how to remember these events, be it 8 or 80 years afterwards. bailey calls for unity, a familiar theme of course in 9/11 responses, but his has a critical edge. The unity he calls for is not for a nation to wage war in hopes of short-sighted revenge, but rather a call to humanity, his words moving swiftly from the individuals itself who died in the events 9/11 and, presumably, in America’s response to it, but rather a unity to stop these events from ever happening again without perpetuating violence, “no matter the politics of color or creed.” It is a tone of remembrance that cannot be captured by commemorative “never forget” anniversaries or lapel pins, but rather a remembrance that is as much about actively and peacefully shaping the future as it is about the past.

There are two versions of “Twin Towers,” one with the poem recorded by Twin Cities spoken word godfather J. Otis Powell, the other by bailey himself. While the words are the same, the difference is palpable. Powell’s delivery is deeper, more measured, adding a gravity and weight to the words simply through his bass intonation alone. bailey’s version, while no less meaningful or emotional, is slightly faster, and reflects more the mental state of someone actual experiencing the events, be it in person or through a screen, while Powell’s sounds much more reflective and pondering. Both versions, however, are a powerful testament not only to the past, present, and future of 9/11, but also of bailey’s skill of mobilizing poetry for contemplation, remembrance, and subtle, but no less insistent calls for action.

Originally posted on 612 to 651 blog on 11 September 2009.

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Tru Ruts presents E.G. Bailey’s 9/11 Memorial ‘Twin Towers’

10 September 2009 at 9:00 am (Music, Recordings, Releases, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , )

E.G. BAILEY’s  9/11 MEMORIAL ‘TWIN TOWERS’
A Poignant  and Impressive Marriage of Poetry + Music
featuring Chasity Brown + J. Otis Powell!

Noted Twin Cities poet and producer, e. g. bailey, started writing “Twin Towers” the morning of the 9/11 attacks.  Eight years later, his evocative words seem even more resonant.

Recording two versions of the track, one with bailey himself and one with renowned spoken-word artist, J. Otis Powell! (both featuring singer songwriter Chastity Brown), bailey is releasing the track on September 11, 2009 in memory of those lost and for those who continue to feel the aftereffects of the attacks every day.

Bailey’s ‘Twin Towers’ is a moving memorial encompassing the gravity of 9/11 from a 3rd person perspective while reverberating with a visceral sense of poignancy. It is an impressive yet poetic lament on this historic tragedy.

Indeed, when Brown sings, “I watched the buildings crumble,” it’s not just the physical structures she’s describing. Likewise, “what monument will be erected to honor those we mourn?” refers to something deeper than steel and concrete.  She is able to effortlessly bring e.g.’s melodies to life.

The track also features an interpolation of Langston Hughes’ words describing the aftermath of the Battle of Stalingrad in his poem ‘Stalingrad: 1942’: “Out of the rubble from a dead hand lifted––/Out of the rubble from a lost voice calling––/I gather instead another world is falling”.

“Twin Towers” honors those lost while asking the all-important question: how do our spirits respond to tragedy and injustice? A testament to remembrance, peace and the power of the human spirit, the tracks are available online as free downloads at http://www.truruts.com.

FREE DOWNLOAD LINK:

• Free high quality audio download at Bandcamp.com: http://egbailey.bandcamp.com/

• Free Download at Zshare.com:
– Twin Towers (featuring J. Otis Powell! + Chastity Brown): http://bit.ly/ETP2q
– Twin Towers (featuring e.g. bailey + Chastity Brown): http://bit.ly/XV5Gn

• Free Download at Myspace:
http://myspace.com/trurutshttp://myspace.com/egbailey

• Direct Download to your computer: http://bit.ly/twintowers

CREDITS:

1. Twin Towers (featuring J. Otis Powell! + Chastity Brown)
written by e.g. bailey; music by Chastity Brown
produced by e.g. bailey + Ben Durrant

2. Twin Towers (featuring e.g. bailey + Chastity Brown)
written by e.g. bailey; music by Chastity Brown
produced by e.g. bailey + Ben Durrant

Executive Produced by e.g. bailey + Sha Cage • Produced by e.g. bailey + Ben Durrant • Mastering: Hipgnosis • Design: Matt Wood • Art Direction: e.g. bailey

Brought to you by Trú Rúts Endeavors: Harvesting the Tree of Life.
© 2009 Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records.

E.G. BAILEY

There is very little in the realm of Spoken Word that E.G. BAILEY has not done. One of the most prolific and innovative spoken word artists of his generation, he has been called a spoken word extraodinaire. Amiri Baraka states, ‘He makes language live.’ A multi-disciplinary Liberian American artist, who works in theatre, film, radio and spoken word, often mixing the different disciplines in his work, he has been creating work in these mediums for the last 15 years. As a performer he has worked solo, or with a band, dancers and vocalists. He is influenced by the jazz aesthetic and often works with jazz musicians, but has also worked with singer songwriters, and hip hop artists. He has been known arrived in a new city, gather an ensemble of musicians and improvise with them. He is both adaptive and versatile.

He has not only created innovative works, but founded a number of endeavors and organizations that have provided opportunties for other artists. The core of his work, whether in theatre, music, film or radio, has been grounded in the art form of spoken word. He not only practices the art form but teaches, promotes, writes about and works to advance the art form. In his work, he specializes in studying and teaching the history of spoken word, and how it has developed from the griot tradition in Afrika, and influenced literary movements throughout time, including the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, the Black Arts Movement, the Slam Movement and others. He also teaches how it helped to create the Hip Hop Movement, and how it continues to influence artists–poets, musicians and filmmakers alike. He has produced over 15 albums and singles for a number of artists in spoken word and hip hop, and produced a noted and innovative National Poetry Month radio series for 9 years. He has developed radio formats and radio shows that promote poetry, spoken word and hip  hop. In the same program, you may hear Claude McKay, Daara J, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Zap Mama, Fela, Common, Langston Hughes and the Last Poets.

He is currently working on his album, ‘American Afrikan’, traversing experiences as a child born in Afrika and raised in America. It brings together Afrobeat musical stylings and spoken word, along with hip hop and other genres. It also has songs in Igbo (Nigeria), Mano (Liberia), and includes artists roots in Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Tanzania and Germany. Part of the goal of the album is to highlight the talents of Afrikans living in the U.S., and also to show how Afrikans are influencing and changing America in the areas of music, politics and the literary arts. The first single from the album, called ‘America’, has already been well received.

e.g.bailey has won awards in poetry, filmmaking, and radio, and has traveled to South Africa, England, Bosnia, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates and more for his work. He is a winner of the Hughes Knight Diop Poetry Award and several of his poems have been published in Solid Ground, the millennial issue of Drumvoices Revue, and Warpland, a publication by the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for creative writing. He is also the co-founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, and Arkology spoken word and music collective. Most recently he was honored at the 2009 Urban Griots Awards for “Outstanding Contributions” to the spoken word art form.  To learn more about e.g. bailey, go to www.truruts.com, www.egbailey.com, or www.myspace.com/egbailey.

CHASTITY BROWN

Chastity Brown is “…a roots soul singer of the first order,” as noted by music critic, Jim Walsh. With her folk-jazz style, this Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter has been steadily winning over her audiences since the release of her debut album, “Do the Best You Can.” Playing more than 150 dates in the past year, Chastity Brown has become known as a gospel-raised, activist poet who sings about race, love, and politics with an edgy tenderness. Her lyrics are both personal, infused with a deeply rooted spirituality, and politically, ethically hard hitting. She wrote her first song at age 15 in her home state of Tennessee and began her growing repertoire in public playing saxophone, piano, drums, and guitar.

Chastity Brown is drawn to the power of music. Her fans are continually amazed at how passionately she can bring them into real life situations of overcoming struggle and then walk them out with a blues, stomp-enticing groove. In 2007, she began gigging full-time in jazz clubs, festivals, folk houses, and college campuses. She is often accompanied by Micheal X. on drums and Adam Wozniak on upright bass. www.myspace.com/chastitybrown

J. OTIS POWELL!

J. Otis Powell! is a writer, performer, educator, curator, producer, consultant and arts administrator. He is also a practitioner of Open Space Technology and has used OST for more than fifteen years with notable success in various productions, in educational scenarios, in administrative consultations and as a means to resolve conflicts. J. Otis lives and works in a jazz aesthetic while calling attention to the improviser in us all; the Open Space everywhere and artificial constructs that keep us from freedom. He is no longer preoccupied with what he has done and focused on who he is because of his experience.

Current projects include but are not limited to: writing a novel titled Bottomless Sky, a new collection of poems titled Chocolate Blue and collaborating with several individual artists on long term endeavors. He’s also working as a radio producer at KFAI Community Radio, a curator with Pangea World Theater on Bridges, as a mentor, editor and roster artist for The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, collaborating with The April Sellers Dance Collective and occasionally performing solo and with various ensembles through out the state of Minnesota and the USA. www.myspace.com/jotispowell

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Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records feature by Rift Magazine

26 October 2008 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Press, Releases, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

tru-ruts-rift-logoWhen artists work collectively to achieve a creative goal, it makes it easier for that group to move forward and to apply that leverage to push their art. While spoken word in the Twin Cities has taken a backseat to the burgeoning hip-hop scene, Trú Rúts Endeavors and Speakeasy Records has been working the connection to help create a larger scene.

If you have seen spoken word performance, you know how powerful and soul bearing it can be. It takes poetry reading and storytelling to a higher level. Trú Rúts Endeavors and Speakeasy Records are trying to spread that message through Hip-Hop, World Music and different forms of media. It hasn’t been an easy road, but as they find their way they hope to find the local audience and local media attention they are looking for and make the Twin Cities a place where spoken word artists can thrive.

Rift: What is the Difference between Trú Rúts Endeavors and Speakeasy Records?

Trú Rúts/Speakeasy Records: Trú Rúts Endeavors is structured as an artistic enterprise within which are various entities that cover various disciplines, including music, film, theatre, visual art, etc. Speakeasy Records is the record label under Trú Rúts. We also do artist management, booking, producing, promotions, and a variety of other things. Speakeasy Records is an artist centered independent label that strives to bring innovative, unique and conscious work, and artists, to the forefront. Unlike many labels in the Cities, it is a multi-genre label that includes not only hip hop and spoken word, but also world music and jazz. It will continue to expand into other genres as it grows. However, it is grounded in spoken word and hip hop because that is where its roots were first planted, and it is the community from which it grew. It was one of the first independent, and now one of the strongest, spoken word labels.

Rift: Who started the labels and who is involved?

TR/SR: Trú Rúts was founded by innovative artist and visionary, e.g. bailey. A multi-disciplinary artist working in spoken word, film, theatre, radio and music, he developed Trú Rúts and Speakeasy Records, while working in the groundbreaking spoken word and music collective, Arkology. Upon returning from a four month pilgrimage to his home in Liberia, and other parts of the world, including Dubai, Amsterdam, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Ghana, and Hong Kong, he re-conceptualized and re-energized the enterprise and the label, releasing the first official release, Words Will Heal the Wound, the first spoken word compilation in Minnesota, in 2001. Currently Trú Rúts is managed by e.g. bailey and his partner and fellow labelmate, Shá Cage aka Lady Sha. The current roster of artists include Truthmaze, El Guante, Quilombolas, See More Perspective, along with e.g. bailey and Shá Cage. However, other projects, which consist of collaborations within the label, include god’s pager, Madiba and Afrika 7. The label has also released albums by Zell Miller III, and Nazirah P. Mickey. In addition to this it continues to release cutting edge compilations including the first compilation to highlight the reggaeton movement in Minnesota, Highstylekyle + Tru Ruts present Lightning + Thunder (Volume One). It also has several UK/US co-releases in the works, including a number of upcoming singles and albums by its roster of artists.

Rift: With the very hot Hip-Hop scene in town, has that help make Spoken Word more popular?

TR/SR: The hip hop scene here has certainly influenced the spoken word scene, and there have been a number of collaborations, along a number of artists that work in and move fluidly between each of the genres. However, the popularity of the spoken word art form in Minnesota is attributed to the very hard and consistent work of artists such as e.g. bailey, Shá Cage, J. Otis Powell!, Truthmaze, Bao Phi, Frank Sentwali and a number of others too numerous to list completely. The dedicated work by these artists, including the commitment of such organizations as the MN Spoken Word Association, S.A.S.E., Edupoetic Enterbrainment, Walker Art Center, The Loft and others, have taken spoken word from “people reading from their journals” to a legitimized art form. In addition, the spoken word community here has been dedicated to not only getting spoken word recognized as an art from but also as an educational tool to inspire literacy and creativity in youth, along with documenting and spreading knowledge about the legacy and tradition of the art form. The community here has also developed the first spoken word grant, the first spoken word conference, and one of the first spoken word radio show and formats. All this has contributed to making the Twin Cities one of the most innovative scenes in the field.

However, the scene has still had a difficult time garnering support from media, and even audiences. The kind of support that has thrust the hip hop scene in the national spotlight. Or the New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco scenes into the national spotlight. In someways it is due to the popularity and focus on the hip hop scene. In the wake, a number of other disciplines and artists get overshadowed. Therefore there has not been the emergence of an artist such as Saul Williams or Jessica Care Moore, Mark Bamuthi or Talaam Acey, Beau Sia, Ishle Park, 2Tongues, Regie Gibson, Ursula Rucker, Sekou Sundiata, Carl Hancock Rux and numerous others. Without the support, the Minnesota scene will continue to be innovative and cutting edge but largely overlooked.

Due to these kinds of obstacles, a number of spoken word artists in the Cities have ’stepped away’, or have moved primarily, or exclusively, into hip hop, sometimes disavowing spoken word and their connection to it. This often gives the art form a sense of being a stepchild, when in fact it’s the most native of art forms, the most native of sons, without which hip hop would not exist, or exist as we know it today. Part of the work of Speakeasy Records, and it’s commitment to spoken word, is to surmount some of these hurdles, and continue to push spoken word in Minnesota into the national consciousness, while at the same time continuing to evolve into the complete and multi-genre it strives to be.

Rift: Since Minneapolis has a pretty diverse music scene, have you found it easy to fit in our have there been some barriers?

TR/SR: Fitting in has never been our goal, and often when you are part of the advance guard, working at the cutting edge, it can be a difficult and lonely road. So there has been barriers, often those that come with the stereotyping of what you do, whether it’s spoken word or hip hop, world music or jazz, being an independent label or even being from Minnesota. However, you persevere, and you find your niche and your audience, which we are starting to do. If there is anything that defines labels and artists like us, it’s making something out of nothing. Whether it is making a dollar out of fifteen cents, or as Atmosphere puts it, gold out of lemons. The struggle defines and divines you.

Rift: What are your upcoming releases or events?

TR/SR: We are currently working on a number of releases slated for late summer through the winter, including singles by Quilombolas, See More Perspective and Truthmaze. A mixtape by El Guante, called ‘Conscious is Not Enough’ that will debut during the RNC. After years of bring other endeavors to fruition, e.g. bailey will release the EP, ‘American African African American’. Also forthcoming is a remix of Shá Cage’s debut album, Amber People; a US/UK hip hop compilation, which will feature artists from around the globe, including several noted special guest artists; and a Speakeasy Records label compilation. www.truruts.com

Posted on www.riftmagazine.com
October 26th, 2008 by Riftyrich

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‘Patriot Acts’ will open minds to new possibilities

2 November 2005 at 2:26 am (Press, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre) (, , , , , , , , , , )

“Patriot Acts” will open minds to new possibilities
by Lydia Howell

Theater for the 21st century is being born, with Pangea World Theater as midwife. The “Bridges Project” unites different artistic mediums—spoken-word, filmmaking, music, dance and theater—in fresh collaborations. “Patriot Acts,” made by 22 diverse artists (both local and international), crescendos beyond convention to take on today’s crucial post-9/11 issues.

“The theme is freedom, drawn from conversations about the world we live in and where our voices are in the dialogue and where they aren’t,” says co-curator/actor Sha Cage, best known as co-creator of Mama Mosaic, the TC women of color theater group.

“All we knew is we were going on a journey and we’d meet fellow travelers. We’d break bread together, have dialogue. The project would be fragments of—artifacts from—that journey,” Cage’s co-curator and director e.g. bailey elaborates.

Cage and bailey spent time in Europe engaging in political and creative dialogues, bringing back insights and artists’ work for “Patriot Acts.”

A rehearsal of “Patriot Acts” is an exhilarating evolution: Drea Reynolds’ resonant singing; Amanda Furches’ stark dance; Cage as the Statue of Liberty carrying a flag-covered baby; TC hip-hop icon Truthmaze riffing with videotaped Leeds, England, poet Swan; exhilarating poetry performed choral-style. “Characters” range from BBC reporters and the latest racially-profiled people labeled “terrorists” to historical figures like Harriet Tubman and a 15-year-old African-American girl, Kismet.

“Aesthetically it’s like jazz. Group improvisation. Process is the thing itself,” said “Bridges” curator J. Otis Powell, as he explains the “open space” philosophy “Patriot Acts” emerges from.

“The conversation around war—those three letters—is broader than the United States. Being in Bosnia, talking about the effects of war still happening: separation of families, lost neighbors—it’s visceral,” Cage says. “Talking with artists about how they continue their art during war and other subversive ways we might employ here.”

“How is someone in London, Paris, Belgrade dealing with all these issues?” bailey says, as he explains the aims of what he calls “transcontinental collaboration.” “We were pointed to not like the French—but, what are French people on the street talking about? What we see of Americans presented in the media, we know that’s not us!”

“Patriot Acts” is rebellious art that dares to cross artificial boundaries made by traditional theater and the growing national security apparatus. These artists liberate the term “freedom” from being a pro-war slogan to becoming unleashed creative expression and vigorous dissent. Artistic firepower of this magnitude could be both the mightiest weapon against violence and the transformative means towards reconciliation.

$12. Mon-Wed. Nov. 7 to 9, 7:30 p.m. Varsity Theater, 3808–4th St. SE, Dinkytown, Mpls. 612-203-1088.

Originally posted on Pulse of the Twin Cities.

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Spoken Word takes root in MN

26 November 2003 at 9:00 am (News, Press, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

spokesman recorder article - eg + sha - cover 1 (700pxl)

Spoken Word takes root in MN
By: Shannon Gibney
Managing Editor

Local ‘master plan’ helps new art form flourish

Spoken Word: An artistic form that accentuates the rhythmic (musical, percussive, vocal) elements inherent in a poem. (Definition of spoken word created by e.g. bailey.)

Perhaps the primary paradox of being an artist is constantly pushing the envelope of existing expression without having a space or an audience to receive it (think Kahlo, Hurston, Van Gogh). Most of the time, artistic genres have to evolve over a long period of time, and artists even have to die, before many of us realize their value.

Thank goodness we didn’t have to wait a whole lifetime for spoken word to come of age in the Twin Cities; the efforts of interdisciplinary artists and spoken word advocates Sha Cage and e.g. bailey have ensured that the relatively new genre has firmly taken root in Minnesota in just three years.

The duo credits mentors such as J. Otis Powell!, Alexs Pate, Laurie Carolos, Louis Alemayou, and Ancestor Energy with laying the groundwork for the form.

“What defines an artist?” asks bailey. “An artist is somebody who makes choices about what they’re going to do. Somebody can wave their hand, and that’s not really art. But when you make choices, when you have intention, and you have a philosophy and a foundation behind what you’re doing, then you’re moving into the realm of articulating an art, an artistic work.”

And intention is something that bailey and Cage have in abundance.

In July 2000, the duo sat down and created a “master plan” for the next five years of spoken word in the Cities. The plan included everything from the formation of the Singers of Daybreak spoken word conference [which led to the now-flourishing Minnesota Spoken Word Association (MNSWA)] to various tentacles of Trú Rúts Endeavors — a film, visual arts, spoken word, and theater production entity.

Says Cage, “We mapped out everything — all the tentacles and everything that’s in place — which is just kind of wild. We’re on track for the five years.”

Cage and bailey were spurred to create the plan because of the disorganization of spoken word artists at the time, and the widespread lack of understanding many encountered from other artists, club owners, funders and the community at-large.

“The concept of spoken word artists at the time was, ‘Well, they’re just getting up and reading their journals. They’re just getting up and reading poems — what’s the art?,’” says bailey. “But there’s certain decisions that go into [spoken word]. It’s not just reading the words on a paper; you have to take it to the performative level.”

One of MNSWA’s main goals is to inspire dialogue about and between practitioners of the art form. A key question that had to be hammered out was, “What is spoken word?”

“There was confusion [among artists] — am I a poet or am I a spoken word artist? What makes me which one?” says Cage. Through discussion, the group was eventually able to agree on a definition they could all live with.

“Spoken word is accentuating the rhythmic elements inherent in a poem. That rhythm can be music, it can be percussion, it can be your own voice,” says bailey.

“There’s all these decisions that have to go into how you best exemplify that poem — to take it beyond just the reading of it, so you understand the meaning of the poem. Because meaning can come through other ways — it can come through a jazz rhythm that you use. [Amiri] Baraka will use a minute and a half rhythm from a Thelonius Monk piece, and then read a piece about Thelonius Monk. Where, if you were just reading the poem, you wouldn’t get that. And you get a deeper understanding because you’re actually hearing Monk’s music,” he continues.

Although bailey has been searching for spoken word’s roots for some time, he says he has not been able to pin them down. However, he sees a clear lineage from the African griot tradition.

Says bailey, “It’s not to say that that’s the only thing that makes up spoken word, because it’s not. I call spoken word the American prodigy of the oral tradition, because it’s a distinct art form and it’s an American-originated form. Out of it evolves the verbal dexterity of hip hop.”

bailey and Cage look towards Generation Y to take the art form to the next level.

The duo helped organize and judge the Walker Art Center and MNSWA’s “Below the Belt: Battle of the Underage Finals” hip hop and spoken word competition this summer, and were stunned by the work they heard.

“A lot of the youth that were practicing we’d been mentors to,” says Cage. “But also, some of the references that they were making showed that they were knowledgeable not about just what’s happening nationally, but just locally. They were grabbing words that Truthmaze would use in his poetry, or Arkology or Edupo, and it was like, ‘Wow, they’re making the connection, and they understand.’”

She adds, “They were like, ‘We realize that this is the platform to talk about our lives and what’s going on with us.’ That was the consciousness that many of them that we were talking to were coming with, and they feel like spoken word is really a forum that allows them to have voice.”

For more information on MNSWA, or to find out about upcoming spoken word events, visit [www.mnspokenword.wordpress.com] or call [612-288-9491]. For more information on Tru Ruts, visit http://www.truruts.com, write info@truruts.com or call 612-288-9491.

Catch the duo’s radio show Tehuti Sundays on KFAI from 11 pm to midnight, or tune into MNSWA’s spoken word show on KMOJ every [Saturday at 10:00pm].

Shannon Gibney welcomes reader responses to sgibney@spokesman-recorder.com.

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 11/26/2003

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Words Will Heal the Wound (Volume One)

3 July 2001 at 9:00 am (Music, Releases, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Words Will Heal the Wound, the first spoken word compilation in Minnesota, is released. The album features: Bao Phi, Truthmaze, Slug, Sha Cage, Arkology, Desdamona, J. Otis Powell!, Sister Mimi, Anika, Wookiefoot, Signe Harriday, Prof. John Wright and the University of Minnesota Faculty Jazz Quartet, Isabell Monk, The Dylan Wahl Experiment, Said Salah Ahmed, Rohan Preston, Meena Natarajan + Nirmala Rajasekar, Liliana Espondaburu + Renato Lombardi, Bach Hac and Amiee K. Bryant. Executive produced by e.g. bailey + Sha Cage. Produced by Andrew Baschyn, and jeremy c. Mastered by Tom Garneau. Released by Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records.

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