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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‘American Afrikan’ on 3 Minute Egg

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

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3274523&dest=-1]

At a time when bombast and personal invective rule the spoken word arena, E.G. Bailey is a poetic voice of traditional and global perspective. His debut CD, American Afrikan, is a concept album fueled by Bailey’s trip nearly a decade ago to visit family and get in touch with his roots in his native Liberia. 3-Minute Egg went to the album’s release party last Saturday at the Bedlam Theater, where Bailey melded sampled video and audio with live music and spoken word.

Originally posted on 3-Minute Egg on 23 February 2010.

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‘Blues People’

23 February 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, Recordings, Releases, Spoken Word, Work Notes) (, , , , , , )

Blues People
Produced by e.g. bailey + Ben Durrant
Recorded live at Tru Ruts’ Urban Revival Series, Trocaderos Nightclub, MN
Music by Andy Shaffer
Written by e.g. bailey
(E. Bailey, A. Shaffer)

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Spoken-word work gets right to the point

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

CD review: Spoken-word work
gets right to the point

By John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune

He can come on like a freight train. Words are his medium. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you think.

His name is E.G. Bailey and his brand-new release “American Afrikan” combines spoken word, poetry and music to explore what it is to be an Afrikan in America today. It doesn’t just skim along the surface in that exploration, it heaves from below like a bulldozer churning up slabs of concrete, tree roots and old asphalt in its quest — Bailey leading the narrative charge.

Using language like John Coltrane used the tenor or soprano saxophone, Bailey — together with friends such as Aimee Bryant, Katrah Quey, Sha Cage, Hipgnosis, D.J.Limbs, plus African poets Ibe Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstrakt Collision, and Mankwe Ndosi, the singer from Atmosphere — uses bits of pre-recorded sound, field recordings (including Liberian work songs from the Mano Tribe) and jazz. He rails, he whispers, he implores, he exhorts and subtly weaves his spell.

“K Street Blues: The Bailout Plan” sounds like it could have been Sonny Rollins captured on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1952 talking to the skyline with his horn.

“America” is Bailey (with Abstrakt Collision giving an eerie, angular backdrop) holding a mirror up to our own country with all its actions and how they have morphed over time. “America with your varicose veins and Catholic guilt, I fear you and I love you … America, it’s getting harder to defend you.”

Aimee Bryant’s stirring multi-tracked version of “Motherless Child” is a riveting take on this black spiritual.

“Afrikan is the New American” has an almost Prince-like groove smothered in chicken grease.

Bailey is the real deal. He has created spoken word dynamics in film, theater and recordings during his travels through this country as well as England, South Africa, France and Serbia. He is the founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors and the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of Minnesota. He’s been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in the New York Modern Museum of Art.

“American Afrikan” is not just a journey but an adventure that, during February’s Black History Month, explores identity, history, culture and what it means to be black in America today.

The CD release of this wonderful piece of art takes place Saturday evening at the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and should not be missed.

E.G. Bailey / “American Afrikan”
Genre: Spoken word/Poetry/Jazz/Hip Hop/Electronica
Label: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
Web site: http://www.egbailey.com, myspace.com/egbailey
Produced by: E.G. Bailey and Ben Durant

Upcoming show: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., the CD release party at the Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis. Cost $5. Ages 18 and older. Includes special guests Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba and more.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for the past 35 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

Originally posted on Duluth News Tribune blog on 18 February 2010.

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e.g. bailey Debuts “AMERICAN AFRIKAN” on Collective Eye

11 February 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Press, Radio, Releases, Shows) (, , , )

e.g. bailey Debuts “AMERICAN AFRIKAN” on Collective Eye
Janis Lane-Ewart (KFAI)

Collective Eye host, Janis Lane-Ewart, interviews Twin Cities spoken word artist, poet, entrepreneur, e.g. bailey Thursday, February 11th. His new cd, AMERICAN AFRIKAN officially drops on Saturday, February 20th at The Bedlam Theater. Learn about e.g’s work with Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records, mentorship of young poets, and other scintillating tales from Afrika to America. Tune in and/or call in with your questions at 612.341.0980 at 10:30 p.m.

Listen to interview here.

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Free download of E.G. Bailey’s ‘Blues People’

1 January 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Poems, Releases, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , )

E.G. BAILEY’S ‘BLUES PEOPLE’
Surprising + Refreshing

blue black and beautiful
are we
many colors
the sun.  god’s breath
whispering through song
through wombs, pregnant
with freedom

‘He makes language live.’ – Amiri Baraka

Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records presents a free download of  spoken word artist E.G. BAILEY’s ‘Blues People’, from his upcoming album, AMERICAN AFRIKAN. The free download is available at these links:

egbailey.bandcamp.commyspace.com/trurutsmyspace.com/egbailey
ZshareDirect Download to Computer

‘Blues People’, a call to peoples across the diaspora, looks towards hope for those still struggling in this new world. Bailey utilizes imagery in a skillful and refreshing way in speaking about the multiplicity of the Black experience in America. Marrying it against a jazz-inspired musical backdrop couldn’t have been a smarter choice. It allows the poetry to have a grandeur and resonance. Recorded live in Minneapolis’ nationally recognized spoken word scene, and performed alongside saxophonist Andy Shaffer, of ‘New Orleans Swamp Pop’ outfit, Skinny Longfeet, there is a raw guttural tonality informing the relationship between the music and words. Evoking a call and response, reminiscent of early gospel and blues, the piece allows each to maintain it’s own identity while carefully courting the space between one another.

Bailey’s astute relationship with the rhythm of language, coupled with his academic background as both a student and teacher of poetry, is prevalent in his musical and metaphorical choices. As Bailey has stated, the poem, winner of the  Hughes Knight Diop Poetry Award from the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference, strives to tell the history of Africans in America through the craft of writing. It provokes you to connect with the pain of that struggle. A well crafted piece of spoken word, it continues to show why e.g. bailey can be found at the forefront of the art form.

Bailey’s spoken word opus, American Afrikan, will be released in early 2010. Recent spotlights on e.g. bailey:

‘Twin Towers’‘Home at Last’‘From Chains to Change’

For more information: Tru RutsE.G. BaileyAndy Shaffer

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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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‘Home at Last’: Interview in MSHALE MAGAZINE

5 February 2009 at 4:00 pm (Family, Film, Music, News, Press, Releases, Spoken Word, Theatre) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

eg-bailey-on-the-road-b-freshphoto by B Fresh Photography

Liberian-American Spoken-Word Artist is Home at Last
Justin Schell , Contributing Writer

“This is a year of completion for me,” e.g. bailey says in the office of Trú Rúts Endeavors, the multidisciplinary arts organization that he runs with his wife, Shá Cage.

His struggle to fit in America is not unlike that of many African immigrants. He attributes his success as an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and producer to this struggle of finding a home away from home.

bailey, who was born in Saclepea, Liberia, is the son of a white Peace Corps volunteer and a Liberian mother. His father, bailey says, “threw a dart, hit Liberia, and that’s where he got stationed.” His mother gave birth to him near the end of his father’s second term; and his parents lost touch after his father’s return to America.

Even as a child he loved music and theater: two memories stand out in particular from his life in Liberia.

“There was a record store and a movie theater,” he says. “I would spend hours in the record store listening to whatever they were playing.”

The owner of the mud-constructed movie theater, however, wasn’t particularly keen on offering free entertainment to they young movie revelers. “We would either sneak into the movie theater or we would drill holes in the side to watch the movie.” After the owner realized this, he would take blindingly-hot Liberian red peppers, soak them in water, and put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spray into the holes to temporarily prevent onlookers from watching the film without paying. “It would be this constant game of trying to outwit [him], as soon as you saw a shadow coming.”

One day, another Peace Corps volunteer came to his village and, after getting to know him, expressed interest in adopting him. Instead it was his father who ended up adopting the 10-year-old Bailey after she sought out his father through the Peace Corps database.

After landing in Chicago, he was driven to his new home in Crystal Lake, an hour-and-a-half from Chicago. There was a parade the day he arrived, with money thrown from the floats.

“I thought it was a parade for me!” he says with a laugh. “The next day, I wake up, I’m like ‘Ok, when are we going to the parade and when can we get more money?’ That was the start of my life in the US.”

Reality soon set in for bailey as he learned that life in America was not rosy for a new immigrant, “It was a struggle of trying to adapt and trying to fit in. Trying to figure out who I am and not fitting into any place, I always felt like I was running, that I couldn’t stop moving.”

Until he moved to Minneapolis, when he felt, “Ok, I can stop running now.”

bailey’s first connection to Minneapolis came not through the city itself, but through one of its most famous musicians. “I discovered Prince in [Crystal Lake’s] record store. I think it was “Little Red Corvette.” My ears just perked up, trying to find out who this person was, and I proceeded to get everything that he put out.”

After moving to Minneapolis, he started performing solo and with a number of music groups, and worked in the retail division of Prince’s famed Paisley Park complex, gaining crucial experience to navigate the shady mazes of the music industry when he formed Trú Rúts and its record label, Speakeasy Records.

He had a life-changing experience on a trip to the country of his birth after being gone for nearly 20 years. He returned to Liberia in 1999 as part of a four-month trip to Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. The trip, while crucial to his development as an artist as well as a person, was not what he expected.

“I realized that I could go back, but I could never live back home. I’d been away too long to be able to go back home and do what I’m supposed to do.”

An overwhelming and inane sense of homelessness hit him, he says, “going home displaces you. You’re no longer at home in either place. Home is what I had to create.”

Thus homelessness and travel inform all of bailey’s work, which symbolically channels his own experience through the larger histories of the African Diaspora. His album American African, scheduled for release in April, will appropriately feature a host of both American Africans and African Americans, including M.anifest, DJ Stage One, Mankwe Ndosi, IBé, and other international artists, including Germany’s Starskie and Dubai’s Abstrakt Collision.

“It’s a testament to where African Americans and American Africans are,” he says, encompassing the multitude of African, African American, and American African perspectives. “I want to avoid the idea of a monolithic Africa as much as possible.”

The first single off of American African, “America,” is a wide-ranging vision of the post-9/11 America that many immigrants find themselves in.

“America, I miss you,” bailey intones at its opening. He delivers his words atop a bed of rolling drums and cymbals, electric bass, disorienting electronic sounds, and wailing saxophone. From Katrina to Guantanamo, Hollywood to Baghdad, the poem subtly welds together the long histories of racism and murder that stain America’s past, yet without completely destroying the hope of something better. In the end, the music dies away as bailey softly, powerfully, declares “We’re waiting for your resurrection.”

bailey has an ambitious plan to release three more albums in 2009 that have been at various stages of completion throughout his work with Trú Rúts. Yet completion always breeds the start of something new, whether it be the release of new albums from other artists in the Trú Rúts family such as Quilombolas, TruthMaze, or El Guante. Or the birth of his first child with his wife Shá Cage.

Even though e.g. bailey has settled in one place after a long journey, his creative activity and poetic journeys show no signs of slowing down.

e.g bailey has produced “No Longer at Ease” (play), an adaption from the Chinua Achebe’s novel for the Pangea World Theatre in May 2001; “Village Blues” (film); and “Words Will Heal the Wound”, a spoken word radio series celebrating the diverse poetic traditions in Minnesota.

He received the Sarah Lawrence College International Film Festival (2001) Experimental Film award for Village Blues; the NFCB (National Federation of Community Broadcasters) award for Write On RaDio!; and the Worldstaff Houston International Festival (1999) Experimental Film award for Village Blues.

Visit his website for a full listing of productions, performances and awards: www.myspace.com/egbailey or www.egbailey.com.

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‘America’ featured on Rift Magazine’s Daily MP3

4 November 2008 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Poems, Press, Recordings, Releases, Spoken Word, Writings) (, , , , )

america-cover-riftReleased on Election Day, ‘America’ is featured on Rift Magazine’s site: Through spoken word E.G. Bailey explores a post 9/11 America and the many issues confronting us, while looking towards hope and change. The haunting jazzy backing track was scored by Abstrakt Collision who reside in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). www.myspace.com/truruts

To listen to ‘America‘ link here. ‘America‘ is from the upcoming album, ‘American Afrikan’.

Posted on www.riftmagazine.com
November 4th, 2008 by Riftyrich

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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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