Zakiyyah Alexander is the author of: 10 Things to do before I die (Second Stage Uptown), SICK? (Summer Play Festival), THE ETYMOLOGY OF BIRD (Hip Hop Theater Festival, Providence Black Repertory Theatre), BLURRING SHINE (Market Theater, Johannesburg), SWEET MALADIES (Rucker Theatre), something new, YOU ARE HERE, and THE FOCUS. Her work has been seen and/or developed at: Ventura Theater, Chalk Rep, WET, A...
Zakiyyah Alexander is the author of: 10 Things to do before I die (Second Stage Uptown), SICK? (Summer Play Festival), THE ETYMOLOGY OF BIRD (Hip Hop Theater Festival, Providence Black Repertory Theatre), BLURRING SHINE (Market Theater, Johannesburg), SWEET MALADIES (Rucker Theatre), something new, YOU ARE HERE, and THE FOCUS. Her work has been seen and/or developed at: Ventura Theater, Chalk Rep, WET, A Contemporary Theater (ACT), Classical Theater of Harlem, The New Blackfest, Bristol Riverside Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, The Humana Festival, Penumbra Theater, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Rattlestick Theater, Hartford Stage, 24/7 Theater Company, the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Vineyard Theater, the Women's Project, Gale GAtes et. al, La Mama Theatre, Greenwich Street Theater, etc. Awards include: Helen Merrill Emerging Playwriting Award, ACT New Play Award/Lorainne Hansberry Prize, Stellar Network Award, Theodore Ward Prize, Jackson Phelan Award, Drama League New Directors/New Works, New Professional Theatre Playwriting Award, Young Playwrights Inc.,etc. Her work is included in the current edition of New Monologues for Women by Women, featured in the book of essays, Girls who like Boys who like Boys, and Game on: The Humana Festival ’08 Anthology. A former resident member of New Dramatists; past residencies and fellowships include: CTG (Center Theater Group) Playwrights Lab, EST's Youngblood, the Women's Project Writer's Lab, the Women's Work Project, and the Drama League. She has received commissions from: Second Stage, The Philadelphia Theater Company and the Children’s Theater of Minneapolis. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama (MFA in playwriting); for four years she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bard College where she taught undergraduate playwriting, but most recently was a writer on the television show GREY’S ANATOMY. Currently, she is developing a musical with Imani Uzuri (featuring the poetry of Sonia Sanchez),that will next be developed with a Rockefeller grant. Zakiyyah is a native New Yorker and was raised in Queens and Brooklyn.
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 rural 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 "stirring" music and 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 most recent 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.
Uzuri is currently composing a new musical GIRL Shakes Lose Her Skin with book written by playwright Zakiyyah Alexander inspired by and featuring the works of Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez.
The Village Voice says,”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". Uzuri is a 2015 Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence where where she will create a new visual, performative, and sonic installation based on Sister Gertrude Morgan’s “all white” prayer room, in which she explores the intersection of spirituality, ritual, spectacle, and sound and their impact on our perceptions on what is our “salvation” and what makes us “feel”. www.imaniuzuri.com