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Chioma Okereke was born in Benin City, Nigeria. She started her writing career as a poet and performed throughout Europe and the United States before turning her hand to fiction. Her work has been shortlisted in the Undiscovered Authors Competition 2006,run by Bookforce UK, and in the Daily Telegraph's 'Write a Novel in a Year' Competition in 2007.
Bitter Leaf is a richly textured and intricate novel set in Mannobe, a world that is African in nature but never geographically placed. At the heart of the novel is the village itself and its colourful cast of inhabitants: Babylon, a gifted musician who falls under the spell of the beautiful Jericho who has recently returned from the city; Mabel and M'elle Codon, twin sisters whose lives have taken very different paths, Magdalena, daughter of Mabel, who nurses an unrequited love for Babylon and Allegory, the wise old man who adheres to tradition.
Yolanda Wisher is the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia. Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song.
Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Fence, Chain, MELUS, and GOOD Magazine and the anthologies Gathering Ground and The Ringing Ear.
Wisher is a 2016 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, 2015 Pew Fellow, Center for Performance and Civic Practice Catalyst Initiative grantee (2015), Leeway Art & Change Award recipient (2008), and the inaugural Montgomery County Pennsylvania Poet Laureate (1999).
She holds an M.A in English/Creative Writing-Poetry from Temple University and a B.A. in English/Black Studies from Lafayette College. Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival (2006-2010) and served as Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2010-2015).
She currently works as Chief Rhapsodist of Wherewithal for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.
Songstress LIRA, whose music career spans 13 years and includes 6 Studio albums, 3 live DVD’s, an autobiography and a movie; has established herself as the foremost female artist in South Africa and a formidable presence on the global music scene.
When asked to elaborate on the significance of the title; “I grew up in a world where I faced so many limitations. I realised defining freedom for myself and subsequently living it was what I needed to do. In exploring this, the concept of “Born Free” became clearer. I want people to realise how powerful they are and that they can own their freedom. This album has become more than a body of musical work, it seeks to inspire and create change – physically and most importantly, mentally “says LIRA.
Born Free masterfully blends a new sound with the smooth urban direction synonymous with the LIRA brand. “This is my best record yet, adds LIRA, and listeners should expect to hear the definitive growth and boldness which that brings.”
Born Free marks a new direction for LIRA and promises to set an exciting tone for great things to come. www.misslira.com
Actress, writer and director Keesha Sharp shines in her current role as Dale Cochran, the wife of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), in FX’s “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” She’s also well known for series regular roles as Gigi on the TBS (and Syndicated) comedy “Are We There Yet?” in which she also made her directorial debut, and as Monica Charles Brooks on the hit CW series “Girlfriends,” for which she was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Keesha is also recognized for her recurring television roles on The CW’s “ Significant Mother,” CBS’s “Bad Teacher,” ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey,” UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” and guest starring appearances on NBC’s “The Player,” TV Land’s “The Exes,” CBS’s “Elementary,” CBS’s “Cold Case,” and more.
She can also be seen in Tyler Perry’s hit film, Why Did I Get Married? alongside Perry and Janet Jackson, as well as the upcoming indie films Frozen Peas and Born Guilty. www.keeshasharp.com
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a novelist, essayist, journalist and humorist. She was born in Enugu, Nigeria. As a teenager, she secretly dreamed of becoming a CIA or KGB agent. She studied Psychology at the University of Ibadan. Her first income was from winning a writing competition at the age of 13. In her first year at university, she was a member of the Idia Hall Chess Team, and also a member of the university's (classical music) choir.
I Do Not Come to You by Chance:A deeply moving debut novel set amid the perilous world of Nigerian email scams, I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of one young man and the family who loves him. Being the opera of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges--a piece of meat in his egusisoup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibilities, too. But times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola, the sugar in Kingsley's tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply; he cannot afford her bride price.
Winner of Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book (Africa) 2010, Betty Trask Award for Best First Book 2010,Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa 2010 finalist and Washington Post Best Books of 2009.
Kali Nicole Gross is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and affiliate faculty in the History Department and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.
Her research concentrates on black women’s experiences in the United States criminal justice system between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is author of the award-winning book, Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910, and the newly released, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America.
A native New Yorker with Guyanese ancestry, Dr. Gross received her B.A. from Cornell University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
In Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, historian Kali Nicole Gross uses detectives' notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly whodunit crime in all its scandalous detail. In doing so, she gives the crime context by analyzing it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and violence within the black community. http://www.kalinicolegross.com
Special Guest: Amana Melomé: Born in Germany, raised around the world, Amana Melome' is a Euro-Caribbean-American singer-songwriter.Both Amana’s mother and grandmother were professional singers and her father hailing from the Caribbean island of Aruba is still an active musician in the European scene.
Amana recorded her debut album INDIGO RED as well as her sophmoric LP PHOENIX RISING with producer Saverio ‘Sage’ Principini in LA. After a US release with indie label Savana Records and a distribution deal thru the Whole Foods Markets her album was licensed in Europe with IRMA records.
While promoting her CD in Italy she landed a lead role, playing herself, on the most popular sitcom on national TV: Un Medico In Famiglia.
Amana's new EP 'Lock and Key' brings exciting new collaborations with the production duo Itai Shapira and Adam Berg of the Decoders, also recorded in Los Angeles. Her music is a blend of styles ranging from Soul to World with a strong Reggae influence. http://www.melomemusic.com
It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease.
The mission of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is "to provide optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families-through our member organizations dedicated to improving quality of life..” http://www.alzfdn.org/
Special guest: Charles J. Fuschillo was appointed chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in January 2014. Prior to that, he served eight terms as a New York state senator representing the 8th Senate District.
Special Guest: Amy McVeigh.worked with the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging for about 10 years. Currently working with the Caregiver Support Program as a Supervisor. She has a Masters of Gerontology and she has worked in the field of Aging for 16 years. www.pcacares.org
Special guest : Astrologer Samuel F. Reynolds.
Samuel F. Reynolds, a former skeptic, had a life-changing visit to an astrologer and has since spent 23 years doing charts and studying astrology. Now Samuel consults, writes, and teaches astrology full-time. He currently is the resident astrologer for New York Magazine and Pride Magazine in the UK. He serves on the boards of directors for the International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR) and the Astrology News Service, and he’s a co-founder of the International Society of Black Astrologers. His home website is unlockastrology.com
Special Guest: David Charmatz, SVP of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.Charmatz oversees marketing, public relations, research and analysis for Global, and his top priorities will be growing the personnel and revenue in order to better serve the needs of people with Down syndrome nationally and internationally.
Before joining Global full-time, Charmatz was a consultant assisting with the launch of Down Syndrome World magazine and Global’smonthly electronic newsletter, and with the planning of a second edition of the Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing Pamphlet.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through Research, Medical Care, Education and Advocacy. www.globaldownsyndrome.org
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States--more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.(www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv-factsheet.pdf)
Special Guest: Jeannine Lisitski, Executive Director and President for Women Against Abuse.the mission of women against abuse is to provide quality, compassionate and nonjudgmental services in a manner that fosters self-respect and independence in persons experiencing intimate partner violence and to lead the struggle to end domestic violence through advocacy and community education. www.womenagainstabuse.org
Special Guest: Vashti Bledsoe, Director of Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program.Established in 1902, Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) is a non-profit, community-based organization committed to serving vulnerable children, adults, and families living in Philadelphia. Over the past century, the programs and services offered by LSH have changed in response to the evolving needs of the community. However, the core mission of Lutheran Settlement House — “to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through an integrated program of social, educational, and advocacy services” — has remained constant. www.lutheransettlementhouse.org
Special Guest: Toshi Reagon has been described as “a talented, versatile singer, songwriter and musician with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock” by critic/blogger Eva Yaa Asantewaa (InfiniteBody). “She masters each of these genres with vocal strategies that easily spiral and swoop from the expressively sinuous to the hard-charging, a combination of warmth and mischief.”
While her expansive career has landed her comfortably in residence at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House and Madison Square Garden, you can just as easily find Toshi turning out a music festival, intimate venue or local club. Toshi finds home on any musical stage. Toshi has had the pleasure of working with Lenny Kravitz, Lizz Wright, Ani DiFranco, Carl Hancock Rux, Nona Hendryx, Pete Seeger, Chocolate Genius and many other amazing artists, including her favorite collaborator, her mom, Bernice Johnson Reagon.
Toshi has been the recipient of a NYFA award for Music Composition, The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a National Women’s History Month Honoree, and is the 2010 recipient of OutMusic’s Heritage Award. www.toshireagon.com
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