October 8, 2000 |
It has been referred to as the fifth element of hip-hop. But in actuality it was the first. Long before the first graffiti artist tagged a wall with a can of spray paint and the first B-boy spun on his head, long before the first MC rocked the mic and the first DJ scratched out a beat, there was the spoken word. Words that flowed from the pen onto the page, through mouths reaffirmed. Poems born of the African griot, fueled by the cultural creativity of the Harlem Renaissance and stoked by the revolutionary energy of the '60s arts movement.
December 23, 2004 |
"Thurgood Marshall. KRS-One. Odetta. " Sonia Sanchez stood on the stage at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York on Friday and read a Who's Who of names, only she wasn't just reading. Hers was more a poetic recitation - inflected with African clicking sounds - of the literary giants, musical geniuses, civil-rights stalwarts, dope MCs, and plain old rabble-rousers who influenced her life as poet, teacher and activist. "Tupac. Duke Ellington. Fannie Lou Hamer. " She kept going, forcing the audience to weigh each name for its unique contribution.
July 28, 1994 |
Lollapalooza '94 arrives in Philadelphia on Monday with its hipper-than- thou reputation to uphold. And, Lord knows, it has the attractions: human drag racing, virtual-reality rides and George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars among them. But when the rock-and-roll circus sets up at FDR Park, across from the Vet, its best weapon against charges of stagnation and corporate sellout will be the oldest, most basic communication tool in the world. The spoken word. High school English teachers may find it hard to believe, but the coolest place to be at this year's 'palooza - outside of the chilled-to-50- degrees Rain Rooms - just may be the Revival Tent, where what alternative icon Henry Rollins calls "the P word" - poetry - is the lure.
October 17, 2003 |
First things first. Please don't call Ursula Rucker a spoken-word artist. Sure, she's performed at "spoken-word" events, contributed "spoken word" on albums for the Roots, and dropped two "spoken-word" CDs of her own - the latest, Silver or Lead, came out this week. "I get that people need to understand. Spoken word explains the fad of it, the Russell-Simmons-Def-Poetry of it," says Rucker, one of the featured artists performing in Divine Women, Divine Work, a three-day festival at the Painted Bride Art Center that runs today through Sunday.
October 14, 2011
NEAT FREAKS are invited to an UnLitter Us rally and neighborhood cleanup event tomorrow at South Philadelphia High School, at Broad and Snyder. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features food, drinks, face painting and live performances. Scheduled speakers are Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson, local rap artist Tone Love and UnLitter Us spoken-word poet Greg Corbin. - Phillip Lucas
March 17, 2005 |
Sometimes, you have to open up your mind to unlock all other talents that go with being a college basketball player. For Penn's Steve Danley, a sophomore forward, that began a few years back when a friend at Berkeley introduced him to spoken word, a musical-literary mix of poetry performed to hip-hop in three-minute cadences. "It's an underground kind of thing, but it gives you a lot of range to write about things," Danley said. He said spoken word was "more clandestine" than performance poetry, "with a hip-hop beat when you speak.
October 23, 1998 |
Saul Williams has folded his angular frame into a booth at Dave & Buster's on Delaware Avenue. He is contemplating fried mozzarella sticks, the state of hip-hop and a newly emerging poetic consciousness. Although not necessarily in that order. You expect Williams, a spoken-word artist and the star of "Slam" - a powerful independent film opening nationally today - to be a lot more talkative, to be a little more like his character, Raymond Joshua, a natural poet who finds his voice in an unlikely place, who uses words like some folks use drugs - to get free.
May 2, 2012 |
It's a warm Friday evening in April, and the doors to Vine Street's Asian Arts Initiative are wide open, literally and figuratively. As on any third Friday at the community center dedicated to discussing the issues and art of Philly's Asian American community, Family Style Open Mic is on a roll. Poets, storytellers, dancers, singers, spoken-word performance artists, and their friends — a mix of ethnic groups that establish the initiative as a promoter of cross-cultural dialogue — hang out at a preshow reception noshing on appetizers from Sampan and watching the Penn Lions drum troupe.
September 24, 1987 |
Spoken-word "readings" of classic and modern fiction have been around for decades, as most anyone who has sat in a high school English class can recall (usually with some pain). It's only been in the '80s, though, that books on audiocassette, once produced and sold primarily for the visually impaired, have become hot properties. How hot is hot? According to Grady Hesters, executive vice president of Newman Communications Corp. (generally credited with spearheading the spoken- word cassette in America)
July 27, 2011 |
Kai Davis is standing on a stage in San Francisco. Three thousand strangers stare at her, waiting in silence. She breathes and visualizes LOVE Park. There, the 18-year-old has performed more times than she can count. Davis dives into her performance - a poem, but not just a poem. Through spoken word, Davis brings the whole city of Philadelphia onto the stage of San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House. With the points from her performance, Davis' team then wins Brave New Voices, the largest competitive spoken-word event in the world.