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imani uzuri

"It is time to speak your truth. Create your community, Be good to each other. Do not look outside yourself for a leader…We are the ones we’ve been waiting for."
- ~excerpt from Hopi Elder’s prophecy
"You have been telling the people,
That this is the eleventh hour.
Now, you must go and tell the people,
That THIS is the hour,
And there are things to be considered.
Where are you living? What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in the right relationship?
Where is your water?
Know your garden …
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community,
Be good to each other.
Do not look outside yourself for a leader.
There is a river flowing now very fast,
It is so great and swift.
That there are those who will be afraid,
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being pulled apart,
And will suffer greatly.
Understand that the river knows its destination,
The elders say we must let go of the shore.
Push off into the middle of the river,
Keep our eyes open and our heads above water.
And I say; see who is in there with you,
Hold fast to them and celebrate!
At this time in history,
We are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves!
For the moment we do,
Our spiritual growth and journey comes to an end.
The time of the Lone Wolf is over!
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done,
In a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are all about to go on a journey,
We are the ones we have been waiting for."
- ~Hope Elders #bliss
Imani Uzuri
Vocalist, composer and cultural worker Imani Uzuri has been called “a post modernist Bessie Smith” by The Village Voice. Uzuri creates music that reflects her North Carolina roots where she grew up singing Spirituals and line-singing hymns with her grandmother and extended family in their small rural church. Uzuri’s music also highlights her affinity for her African American cultural musical practices like antiphony, polyrhythms and the use of melisma, guttural sounds and moans. She has recently been praised in the New York Times for her “gorgeously chesty ruminations”. Her compositions for bands, choral ensembles, chamber orchestra, musical theater and solo voice also include influences from her travels around the world to places like Hungary, Morocco, Ethiopia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Japan where she shared these foundational American musical sounds with international audiences and communities while also learning about their musical traditions. Uzuri’s new album, The Gypsy Diaries, draws on her roots as well as influences ranging from Sufi devotionals to Romany laments. Her ensemble features unique instrumentation combining sitar, acoustic guitar, cello, Japanese shinobue flute, and Persian percussion. It is a vibrant lyrical and spiritual sound scape that reached #2 on Rhapsody’s World Music Top 10.

Uzuri’s work has been called “stunning” by New York Magazine and incorporates her interests in world culture, improvisation and sacred music. She creates and performs concerts, experimental theater, performance art, theater compositions and sound installations in international venues/festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, New York’s Central Park SummerStage, Joe’s Pub,The Kitchen, Blue Note Jazz Club, Whitney Museum, Performa Biennial, France’s Festival Sons d’hiver, London’s ICA, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and Canada’s Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative music where she was also an invited faculty member for voice and composition. Uzuri has collaborated with a wide range of noted artists across various artistic disciplines including musicians Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Vijay Iyer; visual artists Wangechi Mutu, Carrie Mae Weems, Sanford Biggers; choreographer Trajal Harrell and composer Robert Ashley. Her television credits include a feature on BET for their Black History Month campaign and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing with Talib Kweli, Hi Tek and The Roots. She was recently the featured performer at TED@250 Salon on Belief and Doubt which included speakers Anthony Appiah and Naomi Oreskes.

The Village Voice says,“With a voice that would sound equally at home on an opera stage or a disco 12-inch, Imani Uzuri is a constant surprise…seamlessly combining jazz, classical, country and blues motifs into highly personalized compositions.” The New Yorker recently named Uzuri one of the emerging “female composers edg[ing] forward” and Time Out New York says, “[Imani Uzuri] never fails to mesmerize audiences with her narcotic blend of…ethereal sounds”.
www.imaniuzuri.com

photo: Imani Uzuri, Costa Rica, August 2014

Imani Uzuri
Vocalist, composer and cultural worker Imani Uzuri has been called “a post modernist Bessie Smith” by The Village Voice. Uzuri creates music that reflects her North Carolina roots where she grew up singing Spirituals and line-singing hymns with her grandmother and extended family in their small rural church. Uzuri’s music also highlights her affinity for her African American cultural musical practices like antiphony, polyrhythms and the use of melisma, guttural sounds and moans. She has recently been praised in the New York Times for her “gorgeously chesty ruminations”. Her compositions for bands, choral ensembles, chamber orchestra, musical theater and solo voice also include influences from her travels around the world to places like Hungary, Morocco, Ethiopia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Japan where she shared these foundational American musical sounds with international audiences and communities while also learning about their musical traditions. Uzuri’s new album, The Gypsy Diaries, draws on her roots as well as influences ranging from Sufi devotionals to Romany laments. Her ensemble features unique instrumentation combining sitar, acoustic guitar, cello, Japanese shinobue flute, and Persian percussion. It is a vibrant lyrical and spiritual sound scape that reached #2 on Rhapsody’s World Music Top 10.

Uzuri’s work has been called “stunning” by New York Magazine and incorporates her interests in world culture, improvisation and sacred music. She creates and performs concerts, experimental theater, performance art, theater compositions and sound installations in international venues/festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, New York’s Central Park SummerStage, Joe’s Pub,The Kitchen, Blue Note Jazz Club, Whitney Museum, Performa Biennial, France’s Festival Sons d’hiver, London’s ICA, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and Canada’s Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative music where she was also an invited faculty member for voice and composition. Uzuri has collaborated with a wide range of noted artists across various artistic disciplines including musicians Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Vijay Iyer; visual artists Wangechi Mutu, Carrie Mae Weems, Sanford Biggers; choreographer Trajal Harrell and composer Robert Ashley. Her television credits include a feature on BET for their Black History Month campaign and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing with Talib Kweli, Hi Tek and The Roots. She was recently the featured performer at TED@250 Salon on Belief and Doubt which included speakers Anthony Appiah and Naomi Oreskes.

The Village Voice says,“With a voice that would sound equally at home on an opera stage or a disco 12-inch, Imani Uzuri is a constant surprise…seamlessly combining jazz, classical, country and blues motifs into highly personalized compositions.” The New Yorker recently named Uzuri one of the emerging “female composers edg[ing] forward” and Time Out New York says, “[Imani Uzuri] never fails to mesmerize audiences with her narcotic blend of…ethereal sounds”.
www.imaniuzuri.com

photo: Imani Uzuri, Costa Rica, August 2014

"i am angry. can’t trust nothing cause lies are the truth of our day. folks live on reservations, folks live in ghettos, folks die everyday crossing borders."
- ~Imani Uzuri
"i am angry. can’t trust nothing cause lies are the truth of our day. folks live on reservations, folks live in ghettos, folks die everyday crossing borders."~imani uzuri #soldarity
https://imani-uzuri.bandcamp.com/track/i-am-angry-crossing-borders

(photo by Bayte Ross-Smith)

"i am angry. can’t trust nothing cause lies are the truth of our day. folks live on reservations, folks live in ghettos, folks die everyday crossing borders."~imani uzuri #soldarity
https://imani-uzuri.bandcamp.com/track/i-am-angry-crossing-borders

(photo by Bayte Ross-Smith)

i am angry (crossing borders), by Imani Uzuri

"i am angry. can’t trust nothing cause lies are the truth of our day. folks live on reservations, folks live in ghettos, folks die everyday crossing borders."~imani uzuri #solidarity

starting to plan Imani Uzuri curates Sinners and Saints Festival 2015 (celebrating Black American vernacular culture (Ring Shouts, Spirituals, Blues, early Gospel, Line Singing, Quilting, Praise Houses, Jazz and more) and their contemporary counterparts. This week will also celebrate improvisation as an ecstatic tradition and the ways in the ways in which secular and sacred often intertwine in these cultural systems! a lot of amazing things are brewing! so excited and can not wait to share! Viva Viva! #bliss

photo: Imani Uzuri on rural North Carolina  porch of maternal great grandmother

starting to plan Imani Uzuri curates Sinners and Saints Festival 2015 (celebrating Black American vernacular culture (Ring Shouts, Spirituals, Blues, early Gospel, Line Singing, Quilting, Praise Houses, Jazz and more) and their contemporary counterparts. This week will also celebrate improvisation as an ecstatic tradition and the ways in the ways in which secular and sacred often intertwine in these cultural systems! a lot of amazing things are brewing! so excited and can not wait to share! Viva Viva! #bliss

photo: Imani Uzuri on rural North Carolina porch of maternal great grandmother

"stirring musical contributions from…IMANI UZURI’s Mosaic [with special guests Martha Redbone, Morley and Haleh]…~Siobhan Burke, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/arts/dance/lincoln-center-out-of-doors-pays-tribute-to-jenneth-webster.html?ref=arts&_r=0

It was a gift and a blessing to be a part of this magical celebration of the majestic Jenneth Webster’s life! Viva Jenneth! #bliss

(photo l-r, Martha Redbone, Imani Uzuri, Morely, Haleh at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival tribute to Jenneth Webster, August 2014)

"stirring musical contributions from…IMANI UZURI’s Mosaic [with special guests Martha Redbone, Morley and Haleh]…~Siobhan Burke, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/arts/dance/lincoln-center-out-of-doors-pays-tribute-to-jenneth-webster.html?ref=arts&_r=0

It was a gift and a blessing to be a part of this magical celebration of the majestic Jenneth Webster’s life! Viva Jenneth! #bliss

(photo l-r, Martha Redbone, Imani Uzuri, Morely, Haleh at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival tribute to Jenneth Webster, August 2014)

Imani Uzuri, Moscow, Russia, July 2014

Imani Uzuri, Moscow, Russia, July 2014

"We need in every bay and community a group of angelic troublemakers."
- ~Bayard Rustin
Imani Uzuri, performing at High Line Ballroom, Blue Note Jazz Festival, June 2014.
photo by Sosena Solomon

Imani Uzuri, performing at High Line Ballroom, Blue Note Jazz Festival, June 2014.
photo by Sosena Solomon

so happy I had the gift of being a part of King Britt’s The Beautiful Noise: A Sun Ra Tribute (co-curated by Kate Watson-Wallace) at FringeArts last night featuring yours truly, Imani Uzuri, on vocals (channeling my best June Tyson), King Britt (electronics, beats), Vernon Reid (guitar, electronics), Marlo Reynolds (keyboards, electronics) Anthony Tidd (bass), Tendai Maraire (percussion) with Movement by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Live Video by Jason Senk and after party DJ’d by HPrizm.
“Live improvised music, video and dance, performed unrehearsed by a cosmic ensemble of star artists who have never before shared a stage” and it was glorious! Thanks wonderful Philly family for being a part of the moment with us!! Thank you King Britt for creating the space and Thank you Sun Ra for being you!! #bliss

(King Britt and Imani Uzuri backstage at The Beautiful Noise: A Sun Ra Tribute)

so happy I had the gift of being a part of King Britt’s The Beautiful Noise: A Sun Ra Tribute (co-curated by Kate Watson-Wallace) at FringeArts last night featuring yours truly, Imani Uzuri, on vocals (channeling my best June Tyson), King Britt (electronics, beats), Vernon Reid (guitar, electronics), Marlo Reynolds (keyboards, electronics) Anthony Tidd (bass), Tendai Maraire (percussion) with Movement by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Live Video by Jason Senk and after party DJ’d by HPrizm.
“Live improvised music, video and dance, performed unrehearsed by a cosmic ensemble of star artists who have never before shared a stage” and it was glorious! Thanks wonderful Philly family for being a part of the moment with us!! Thank you King Britt for creating the space and Thank you Sun Ra for being you!! #bliss

(King Britt and Imani Uzuri backstage at The Beautiful Noise: A Sun Ra Tribute)

IMANI UZURI ON TOUR SUMMER 2014: 
JUNE 6: Philadelphia-THE BEAUTIFUL NOISE: SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO SUN RA curated by King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace ft: Marshall Allen, Vernon Reid, Imani Uzuri, HPrizm and more, FringeArts 8pm.
JUNE 13: NYC-BLUE NOTE JAZZ FESTIVAL, with band ft: Christian Ver Halen (guitar), Neel Murgai (sitar), Todd Isler (world percussion) High Line Ballroom 8pm.

IMANI UZURI ON TOUR SUMMER 2014:
JUNE 6: Philadelphia-THE BEAUTIFUL NOISE: SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO SUN RA curated by King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace ft: Marshall Allen, Vernon Reid, Imani Uzuri, HPrizm and more, FringeArts 8pm.
JUNE 13: NYC-BLUE NOTE JAZZ FESTIVAL, with band ft: Christian Ver Halen (guitar), Neel Murgai (sitar), Todd Isler (world percussion) High Line Ballroom 8pm.