|Def Poetry Jam|
Urban News Staff Reports
It’s been a long time since some of the most spectacular Def Poetry Jam alumni Poets graced the Def Jam Poetry stage. Last weekend some of the most memorable poets joined by special guest poets Actor and Def Poetry veteran Malcolm-Jamal Warner, singer Jill Scott and Mayor of Newark, NJ, Ras Baraka were part of a virtual performance with a mega marathon live-streamed event for COVID-19 relief.
The show, which was dedicated to the memory of Andre Harrell, a hip-hop mogul who founded Uptown Records. Harrell influenced urban culture around the world, with his “Champagne and Bubbles” mentality; sadly, Andre passed earlier this month as He was an integral part of bringing Def Poetry Jam to life.
Co-executive producer Danny Simmons credited the late Andre Harrell for convincing his brother Russell to produce Def Poetry, Danny stated, “I pretty much always stayed in my own lane from the music industry but Andre was one of Russ’ Friends and colleagues who I was always hyped to see at Art and poetry shows or whatever else I was up to at the time. He had genuine respect and love for the culture that extended beyond the music industry. He always knew the pulse of the entirety of our cultural community.”
This evening was hosted by The Legendary Black Ice and Jessica Care Moore with more than two dozen poets performing including Def Poetry all-stars such as Georgia Me, Staceyann Chin, Roger Bonair, Bassey Ikpi and Sunni Patterson. The production will introduce powerful new voices like Brandon “Real Talk” Alexander, Elisabet Velasquez, and Khemist as well as feature legendary poetry voices such as Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets. Def Poetry Jam co-creator Danny Simmons, accompanied by jazz legend Ron Carter will dust off the poetry book to shine a little light.
Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam opened on Broadway in November 2002. A television version of the show ran on HBO from 2002 to 2007. The TV series featured performances by established and up-and-coming poets as well as famous actors and musicians; and was key in advancing the cultural importance of poetry. Winning the Broadway show won a Tony Award and the television series won a Peabody Award.
The fundraiser was produced and curated by Lamar “The Legendary Black Ice” Manson and Jessica Care Moore and presented online by GC Studios, a division of Gushcloud International, in association with Newark Symphony Hall.