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Photographer and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis cofounded The Dark Room Collective in 1988. He is the author of The Maverick Room and Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (both from Graywolf Press). In 2014, he cofounded Heroes Are Gang Leaders, a group of poets and musicians, and recorded ‘The Amiri Baraka Sessions.” His recent work has appeared in PLUCK!, Best American Poetry 2015, Tin House, The Paris Review, The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop and Poetry. In 2015, he was the Richard Hugo Visiting Writer at the University of Montana and the Sterling A. Brown Professor of Humanities at Howard University.
Luke Stewart is a multi-instrumentalist hailed as “One of the hardest working creative musicians in D.C.” by Twins Jazz. Luke has performed with the legendary saxophonist Marshall Allen and with Danny Ray Thompson, both seminal members of Sun Ra’s Arkestra.
Randall Horton (poet) is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea González Poetry Award and most recently a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in literature. Horton is a Cave Canem Fellow and a member of the Affrilachian Poets. Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press is the publisher of his latest poetry collection Pitch Dark Anarchy. Horton is assistant professor of English at the University of New Haven.
Ryan T. Frazier (trumpet) is a musician, writer, and physicist based in Philadelphia. As a musician, he has been a contributor to Philadelphia’s free jazz and Afro-futurist punk scenes for almost a decade. He has performed or recorded with a wide range of musicians and artists, from the underground hip-hop/punk band Mighty Paradocs, to renowned poets Sonia Sanchez and Thomas Sayers Ellis, and principle free jazz bassist William Parker. With his own band, Napoleon Dolomite, his musical approach is built from the mathematics of Thelonious Monk and Eric Dolphy, along with those of Wu Tang Clan and MF Doom, set in a rhythmic and free cosmic sound vision. Studying music and jazz culture/tradition with the great Donald Byrd as a teenager, he is currently an apprentice in the Sun Ra Arkestra, studying under its legendary director, Marshall Allen. Having studied African and African-American literature at Hampton University, his current research focuses on the energy dynamics of human culture, using language and the culture of bebop to build a model of the cosmos, its function, composition, and origin. He has taught music at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, in Oakland, California, as well as in Philadelphia correctional institutions.
Janice Lowe (piano) is a New York City-based composer and poet. She has composed and created vocal arrangements for the bands Digital Diaspora and w/o a net. Her works for musical theater include “Langston and Zora,” book by Charles E. Dre Jr. (Wild Project) Lil’ Budda, text by Stephanie L. Jones (Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference; NAMT Festival of New Musicals) and “Sit-In at the Five & Dime,” libretto by Marjorie Duffield (New Harmony Project.) She is librettist and composer of the opera “Dusky Alice.” She created music for the plays “Born of Conviction” (Irondale Arts) by Kathryn Dickinson; “12th and Clairmount” (Stage Left, Chicago) by Jenni Lamb; ”Door of No Return” by Nehassaiu deGannes and Shafrika; “The White Girl” by Anika Larson. She is the librettist of “Little Bird Loose,” a song cycle collaboration with composer Nils Olaf Dolven. Her poems have been published in journals including Callaloo, The Hat, and American Poetry Review. She is a cofounder of the Dark Room Collective and of Absolute Theater Co. Lowe is a frequent contributor to Write Night @Frank’s Lounge.
Margaret Morris (vocals) is a vocalist and improvisor who integrates her backgrounds in classical operatic and extended vocal techniques. She is a longtime collaborator with Chicago-based choreographer J’Sun Howard. In 2013, she co-founded New York City-based women’s choral and improvisation a capella ensemble LushTongue with Onome. Onome and Morris performed under the moniker Inner Child, a collaborative, multidisciplinary performance trio with Keisha Turner at Chicago and New York City venues including Links Hall and Wow Cafe Theater. Morris was featured in The Exponential experimental album “Encuentro” with Ben Perkins and Brian Murray, with whom she performed throughout 2011–2012. Morris worked as a choreographer in Chicago where she was honored to be a Chicago Dancemakers Forum LAb Artist, a Link-Up resident artist with Links Hall, and collaborated with local dance artists including Asimina Chremos, Ni’ja Whitson, Angela Gronroos, Ayako Kato, and Erika Wilson Perkins. Her practices of contact improvisation and authentic movement continue to inform her work.
Warren G. Crudup II “Trae” comes from a family of musicians. Since the age of 3 he has had a passion for the drums. Born December 7th 1984 in Dothan, Alabama and growing up in Fort Washington, Maryland, he developed musically in church. He is well-versed in many styles of music including jazz, gospel, funk, reggae and other ethnic music. He has played, recorded and performed with many artists such as Legendary Edward "Butch" Warren, Grammy nominee Cheick Hamala Diabate, Tarus Mateen, David Ornette Cherry, Thomas Sayers Ellis and many more. Warren was a member of the prestigious UDC Big Band at the University of the District of Columbia where he had the opportunity to share the bandstand with some phenomenal players such as Bruce Williams, Allyn Johnson, and many more. Warren also recognizes a host of great players through the years who he has looked to as inspiration. Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Max Roach, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers are some of the musicians that have helped to influence and inspire Trae.
Catalina is a Chilean singer/songwriter based out of the area of New Haven, CT. She was born and raised in Santiago, Catalina and began singing and performing when she was 5 years old and songwriting at the age of 12. Today, Catalina has greatly developed her craft and is seen reflected through her powerful, vocal prowess, soulful writing and overall soundscape creations. As a crossover artist, her style of music is a potluck of all of the genres that she is influenced by. How she manages to intertwine and compliment them is what makes her a trailblazer. The way she showcases her musicianship and artistry by molding through different sounds comes to show how versatile she is. This upcoming artist has played at venues such as The Bitter End in New York City and at the Smoky Mountains Songwriter Festival in Gatlinburg, TN, where she won the Band Playoff in 2014. With 3 EP releases under her belt, she is ready to share her debut full-length album to continue furthering her career and her reach.
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters To A Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma's Footsteps (flipped eye). She is the poetry editor of the literary magazine African Voices. Her poetry has been the subject of a short film "I Leave My Colors Everywhere" and it has been published in BOMB, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, & most recently on the blogs '90s Meg Ryan and Thethe Infoxicated Corner.
James Brandon Lewis is a saxophonist and composer who earned his Bachelors from Howard University, and Master of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts. Ebony Magazine hailed James as one of seven jazz musicians to watch in today's scene. His second Critically acclaimed Album Divine Travels was released by the historic imprint Okeh Records via Sony and features William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. Soon to be released Days of FreeMan is a retrospective album that picks up where Divine Travels ended, further exploring the identity of saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. It features Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, Rudy Royston on Drums, guest rapper Supernatural, and sound designer High Priest AKA Hprizm.
Ailish Hopper is the author of Dark~Sky Society (2014), selected by David St. John as runner up for the New Issues prize, and the chapbook Bird in the Head (2005), selected by Jean Valentine for the Center for Book Arts Prize. Individual poems have appeared in Agni, APR, Blackbird, Harvard Review Online, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tidal Basin Review, and other places. Her essays on art and literature that deal with race and racism have appeared in Boston Review, The Volta, and the anthology A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race. She has received support from the Baltimore Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, Maryland State Arts Council, and Yaddo. She teaches at Goucher College.
Jen Fitzgerald is a poet, essayist, and a native New Yorker who received her MFA in Poetry at Lesley University. She is a community activist and freelance writer and host of New Books in Poetry Podcast. She is a member of New York Writers Workshop, was a Bread Loaf 2014 Conference attendee and teaches for LitReactor. Her first collection of poetry, The Art of Work is forthcoming with Noemi Press in 2016. Her work has been featured on PBS Newshour and Harriet: The Poetry Foundation Blog and in Tin House, Salon, PEN Anthology, and AAWW: Open City, among others. She is at work on her memoir.