To celebrate 6 successful years of the Rise Slam project we have updated details on each of the young spoken word up-stars who have passed by our microphone on the way to even better dressing rooms.
In 2005, in collaboration with the fantastic SUBTEXT, we decided to collate together some of the most prodigious and prolific of the emerging talent into a team called the Poetry SLAMbassadors. The SLAMbassadors are a group of emerging artists who work alongside more established names to create original and challenging spoken word. Their work is a complex mix of poetry, beat box, rap and vocal visualisations that assault the senses and pose serious socio-political questions. They have performed before 1,600 people as a part of Human Rights Watch at the Globe Theatre, at the Trafalgar Square Memorial for the victims of the 07/07 attacks, as well as variously at the Millennium Dome, City Hall, the Royal Court, the ICA, the IMAX and a wide range of high profile venues across the capital. In addition Korbel and PACE launched their solo careers in an all group gig at Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street in London. The SLAMbassadors work as a polyvocal group and also as a collection of inter-linked solo artists. The Poetry SLAMbassadors aim to release a CD of their collected work in 2009 and to continue storming gigs and running workshops related to their emerging-merging art. They have held residencies in Birmingham, at the first Word Cup and on a tour of venues and schools in Plymouth and surrounding areas. Each young artist on this list is a member of the Poetry SLAMbassadors.
Any or all of the listed artists below may be contacted via their own websites or via the Poetry Society email@example.com. All are exceptional writers and performers, and some of the older ones are also inventive workshop facilitators. Please be aware when making enquiries that a fee should be paid to the artist – at least an amount that will cover their expenses. We would like you to support emerging talent – not just use it! Also be aware that some artists are under 16 years old and will need a guardian with them.
PACE is a dynamic up and coming rap and spoken word artist from Stepney Green, East London. Since July 2005 PACE has been involved in a number of events which include a performance for the vigil at Trafalgar Square after the 7/7 bombings, a main feature on Blue Peter with Ms Dynamite, the Globe theatre and the Royal Court. As well as performing on a number of television shows he has featured on numerous radio programmes including 5 Live and Radio 1.
PACE was invited to 11 Downing Street to be part of a project called 'Make Your Mark', which Sway and Lady Sovereign are also involved in.
PACE leads creative writing, rapping and beatbox workshops, with young people channelling their energy into positive and useful skills. He has also recently completed a season hosting Subtext’s Open Mic sessions at Rich Mix.
At the moment, PACE is recording new material and circulating the UK performing at shows. PACE has two mix-tapes currently in production featuring tasty collaborations from the likes of Ruff Squad, Universe & Sensor. Look out for The Warm Up and Outside The Box, coming soon.
Korbel has been a member of the SLAMbassadors since 2005 and, in that capacity, has performed at a wide variety of high-profile events including The Globe Theatre, the vigil at Trafalgar Square after the 7/7 terrorist attacks, the Royal Court and Blue Peter on National Poetry Day – a show which also included Ms Dynamite.
Korbel produces garage/grime tracks under the name of Joey Leng. He has just completed his first album called 'My First Philosophy' which was launched during a SLAMbassadors gig at Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street.
Korbel's membership of the SLAMbassadors has taught him how to facilitate workshops in a peer-peer setting and, in that role, he recently toured the South West with the other members of the group, performing in schools and theatres, and enabling other young people to pick up the pen and the mic. He also recently attended and performed at Poetry Day in Buckingham Palace, with HRM the Queen.
Korbel is at the forefront of original East London experimental hip hop and grime. On Monday 31st April 2008 Korbel appeared in a documentary about himself and his work on Channel 4 television.
Jay Bernard is a poet and spoken word artist resident in London. She first came to the attention of the Poetry Society in 2004 when she took part in, and eventually went on to win, the Rise Londonwide Youth Slam Championship.
Jay works in free-verse poetry but also displays a strong commitment to rhythm throughout her writing, which often follows a surreal and confrontational narrative. She has been mentored by the late Michael Donaghy and also by Editor of Poetry London, Pascale Petit. Additionally, as part of the Rise Slam overall prize, she was mentored by spoken word artist Joelle Taylor for a year.
In 2004, The Guardian magazine – to celebrate 16 years in circulation - named her as one of the country’s most inspirational 16 year olds. She has performed at the Globe Theatre for Human Rights Watch, and also performed with the SLAMbassadors in Trafalgar Square before a global audience in memory of the 7/7 bombing victims. In 2005, she became one of the winners of the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards and travelled to the Arvon Foundation to workshop her writing thereby winning both on the stage and the page. She has been on tour with the SLAMbassadors as a part of a Poetry Laboratory project, and resident in Birmingham for a week.
Part of her mentoring with Joelle Taylor has been to learn how to plan and deliver innovative workshops in schools and youth clubs, and she continues to explore that to this day. The Poetry Society has been so impressed by her talent and her commitment to her art that they recently asked her to become one of the professional performance poets on the Rise Slam.
Jay's first collection, Your Sign is Cuckoo Girl, is published by Tall Lighthouse Press.
Jay Bernard can be contacted for gigs and workshops via the Poetry Society. Email: Joelle Taylor
Chris Preddie was the overall winner of the Rise Londonwide Youth Slam Championship in 2006, and works with a fusion of rap-poetry, free verse and narrative rhyme.
He has worked hard since that date, dragging himself out of South London gang culture to become one of the most prolific, inspirational and hard-working young cultural activists on the London poetry scene.
Chris joined the SLAMbassadors in 2006 by popular vote from the other team members, and has since travelled with them on a tour of the South West and facilitated numerous workshops in schools, colleges and youth centres. He is currently poet in residence at Holborn Libraries where he oversees and leads their innovative Grime Time workshops – encouraging young people to express themselves positively and forcefully.
Chris has performed at numerous events including the Rise Festival, City Hall, the Royal Court, as well as a number of hip hop gigs throughout the capital. He has featured on Radio1, on Choice FM with Angie Le Marr and Richard Blackwood, as well as various underground stations.
Chris is currently the Poetry Society’s most requested young artist, and has also been headhunted to feature in Hayley Madden’s celebrated portrait shots of performance poets.
Chris has 2 albums available via direct order. In March 2008 a special Channel 5 documentary will detail his meteoric rise to poetic excellence, and chart his remarkable journey from the streets to the stage to the page. He is currently working on his first book commission.
With performances at City Hall, IMAX, the rise festival and other major venues in and around London – as well as on TV and radio - this young lady has a diverse amount of talents.
Ms. Scora D is multi-talented in singing/song writing, rapping and free verse poetry. ‘ I LOVE MUSIC BECAUSE IT INSPIRES THE LOVE I HAVE FOR THE WORLD’.
Having the ability to perform under pressure, she came up with a wicked freestyle, which has crowned her the Freestyle Queen of the Capital.
Real name Deborah Ayekpa, she thrives through her music name Ms. Scora D, which describes her scoring at every challenge she faces. Like every troubled teenager she used to see life in a negative light. Once she engaged with poetry, it brought back the passion she had hiding inside for music. Discovering her new skills in music and poetry she has continued to push through the boundaries of life. ‘MUSIC IS MY PASSION, I WILL WRITE LYRICS UNTILL THE DAY I DIE’ - a line taken from her self titled ‘African Queen’ track, which you can hear on her stunning debut album called ‘The D.A Prophecy’.
From a French speaking background, a lot of her music is inspired by the affects of colonisation, growing up in London and the Ivory Coast. Scora D now lives in Newcastle and is, by all accounts, scoring there too!
Kayo Chingonyi was joint winner of the 2003 slam, and has gone onto carve a powerful name for himself on the circuit.
Still only 20 years old, he has performed at most of the well-known spoken word venues in London. He works in both rap and free verse, and is also an accomplished musician. He has appeared on both radio and television.
Kayo's voice is rich and powerful, and resonates with the sounds of east end ghettos and ‘70’s Harlem. Political, poetic and passionate, he has been writing poetry for seven years and performing his poems for four of those seven in venues as diverse as Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, The Poetry Café, Stratford Circus and Battersea Arts Centre.
Kayo is a third year undergraduate in English Literature at The University of Sheffield. During term time, he runs a poetry night called ‘Word Life’ with the aim of showcasing the most talented poets in and around the steel city.
Kayo's work has been published in ‘The Write Stuff’ (an anthology for young writers) and more recently in the University of Sheffield’s creative writing journal: www.route57.group.shef.ac.uk
Natalie Leer first took part in the slam in 2003, and went on to be a valued and inspirational member of the showcase team that year and each year following. She is a founder member of the Poetry SLAMbassadors, and brings with her uncompromising poetry, a commanding stage presence and the unnerving ability to tap into the universal.
Natalie has performed live at the Shakespeare’s Globe, on stage at the Trafalgar Square memorial to the 7/7 victims, Vauxhallville and the London Transport Museum, to name but a few.
Natalie merges free-verse poetry with passionate polemic, and composes her own music. Her Poet Idol/Idle has a cult following.
Natalie is also a highly experienced and gifted workshop facilitator, and is perfect for working with performance poets of any age.
Natalie is currently studying a BA in music at Dartington College of Arts. She blurs the edges between spoken word and music. She said of her experiences within the project, ‘It gave me confidence and taught me lots of valuable lessons as a writer and on a more personal level. When I am surrounded by other poets and spoken word artists I become more creative, determined and active so it helped me in that respect too. To top it off my CV looks great because of what I did during and after as a result of the Slam! If it wasn’t for that I might not have got into university.’
Check out Natalie's myspace: http://www.myspace.com/natalieleer
Dream was the first Rhythmic Winner of the Rise Slam in 2005, and has also received awards from his local community as an acknowledgement of his achievements.
Dream works primarily within the hip-hop genre, and executes his speech with rare honesty and directness. His words appeal for change, and discuss the personal as the political, covering subjects ranging from the murder of his best friend, to pubescent fatherhood and attempts to break out of drug dealing.
Dream is a valued member, respected as much for his ability to work in a group as much as in the spotlight. He is studying music production.
Louise Hill has become a legend on the youth poetry scene for her dramatic on-stage dialogues, in which she plays each poetic character. She is funny, engaging and enriching, leaving audiences alternatively holding their stomachs or wiping their eyes.
As well as scripting performance poetry outbursts, she has a powerful gospel-inspired singing voice that adds a further lyrical layer to the group’s polyvocal pieces.
Louise is currently preparing to enter Drama School at university level, and is moving back to London after 2 years in Bristol.
Still only in his early teens, Jamal Msebele has been astounding audiences and readers alike for a number of years.
In 2006 and 2007, he was a winner of the Rise Slam and took part in the showcase team events. He has also been winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, the Word Up Slam 2006 and the John Betjeman Young People Poetry Competition. Added to that, he has a track on the Rise Slam album 2006 and has also released his first anthology 'Kaleidoscope' – which aptly shows his multi-faceted and prismatic talent.
Jamal has appeared on TV as a young poet and also on radio programmes such as The Verb (Radio 3). He has performed a mini tour across the capital and shared the stage with artists like Crisis and Breis – as well as his mother, one of the UK’s top performance poets, Sifundo Msebele. See him or read him now.
Check out Jamal's website: http://www.jamalmsebele.co.uk
Another huge early teen success, Muazzin Aziz came to The Poetry Society’s attention in 2006 when he took part in the under-14 section of the Rise Slam. He stormed the stage to become a team member that year – and in 2007, went even further to become Rhythmic Award winner.
Muazzin produces his own beats to go with strong and conscious lyrics outlining his life in the east End of London, and spits from an Asian perspective. His tracks, 'Make it Bright' and 'Focus Your Mind', are two of the most played from the Rise Slam albums.
Muazzin has performed at various open mic sessions, and is currently working on new material. He has appeared in newspapers including The Observer. He has also appeared on Desi DNA TV.
Muazzin is an artist of profound intelligence and stage ease, and has been mentored during his journey by both The Poetry Society and Subtext. Naga often works with Joseph John Baptiste and Jabedul Islam, who have also confounded the judges with their sense of acapella poetry and rhythmic rhyme. All 3 young poets are from Oaklands School in Bethnal Green.
Buckley thrashed the mic during the 2006 championship, and has continued to compose inspiring and eclectic pieces for the stage and for the ear. He works with both poetry and music – as can be heard in his sample tracks 'Respect This' and 'Attack of the Rhyme'.
Buckley is currently working on new poems, refining them to a stage of damn near perfection before releasing them on stage, and creating new stories, scenarios and adventures.
At 20 years old, Buckley has already achieved more than most in their thirties, and he has only just grazed the tip of his pen. Of his time with Rise Slam he writes, ‘I now have appreciation for my art, and my mind itself. Plus a massive amount of confidence for the stage that I never had before’.
Check out Buckley's myspace: http://www.myspace.com/lyricalpain
Chinedum Nwokonkor was the joint under-16 winner of the Rise Slam 2007. He displays a rare talent for plucking out the poetry from a situation, a talent that is largely self-taught.
While still only 14 years old when he won the title, and still needing to devote serious time to his studies, Chinedum has been spotted by a number of poetry organisations, and has visited Buckingham Palace and performed an originally penned piece for Human Rights Watch at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
In 2008, Chinedum became one of the Top Overall 15 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, and will be attending an Arvon writing course with his fellow winners in February 2009, led by the two judges Ian McMillan and Eva Salzman.
Laniya Numakasa (Ms Mellow) gave one of the most memorable performances in the slam’s history at her first stage appearance during the South Quarterfinals in April 2005. It was chiefly memorable for the organiser as she arrived at the stage door clutching a Missy Elliott track which she wanted to perform to. On being told that no music is allowed during a slam performance, she press-ganged her family and friends to provide beatbox and hand claps that she could rap to.
Within 2 months, she had won the Rise Slam Championship – sharing the title with Ms Scora D. Her track, 'Greatest Achievements', is among the most played and requested Slam tracks in schools and colleges, and she is the perfect role model for up-coming female rappers. Young, vibrant, political and feisty. And the winner of the first Blue Peter Freestyle Slam judged by Ms Dynamite. Watch. Out.
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