Something about the Special Guests

akash_bhasinjuli_wood

 

akash_bhasin_lgAkash Bhasin

Akash has entertained crowds in China, India and now the United States. His unique wit and no holds bared sense of humor has helped him garner fans across the globe.

Akash has been featured in the second season of the criticly aclaimed series Its A Chucked Up Life. He can also been seen in a number of on line sketches with the acclaimed Cult Comedy Picture Show. Many of their sketches have been featured on CNN and the Huffington Post. Akash recieved 1st place in the Catch a Rising Star competition & 2nd place in Gildas Laugh off competition. No matter what country he’s in Akash’s honest and hilarious perspective on life, cultures and religion keep audiences wanting more.

Akash has entertained crowds in China, India and now the United States. His unique wit and no holds bared sense of humor has helped him garner fans across the globe.

Akash has been featured in the second season of the criticly aclaimed series Its A Chucked Up Life. He can also been seen in a number of on line sketches with the acclaimed Cult Comedy Picture Show. Many of their sketches have been featured on CNN and the Huffington Post. Akash recieved 1st place in the Catch a Rising Star competition & 2nd place in Gildas Laugh off competition. No matter what country he’s in Akash’s honest and hilarious perspective on life, cultures and religion keep audiences wanting more.

Juli_Wood_LgJuli Wood

For the past twenty years with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a side man, and countless worldwide performances, saxophonist, vocalist and composer Juli Wood has established herself as a solid , swinging, lyrical and entertaining performer on Chicago’s music scene. Juli has played many jazz clubs and festivals nationally and internationally; Chicago Jazz Fest, Hyde Park Jazz Fest, Milwaukee’s Summeriest, Chicago’s main jazz clubs – Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, Andy’s and Katerina’s. Skansen Jazz and Blues (Stockholm , Sweden), Pori Jazz Fest (Finland), Bent J’s club (Aarhus, Denmark), Storyville (Helsinki Finland), Arlandia Jazz Fest (Aaland Islands, Finland) to name a few.

Juli is in the tradition of saxophonists who were also great vocalists; Cleanhead Vincent, Eddie Harris, and Louis Jordan. Never has that been more apparent than in “5 4 3 2 1 Juli Wood,” her latest recording and most ambitious project to date.

Maggie Brown

Maggie Brown is a tremendously talented singer, songwriter and performer using her gifts to not only entertain, but educate as well.

Maggie is the daughter of the late Oscar Brown, Jr. a world renowned composer, playwright, social activist and legendary giant on the Jazz music scene.  Mr. Brown passed on his artistic integrity to his daughter who now uses her own voice to create images that we can all be proud of.

Maggie’s got her own style, however.  With a 4-octave range, she has the ability to more than just sing a song or deliver a lyric.  She embodies every note, drawing from it its deepest meaning with pure joie de vivre.  When she performs, you feel it.  The Chicago native made her professional acting and singing debut there at the Body Politic Theater.  She studied music, theater and voice at Columbia College Chicago and has since taken her polished vocal style on the road.

In 1991, Maggie began touring both locally and nationally in her dynamic one-woman-show, LEGACY: Our Wealth of Music. LEGACY is a lively and engaging musical demonstration/lecture about the history and evolution of African-American music.

Maggie describes what she does as “edutainment.” Miss Maggie calls on all of her talents to demonstrate how Black people courageously and virtuously responded to the horrors of slavery, segregation and disenfranchisement by creating inspiring and thriving art forms which have become part of our American cultural heritage. This year marks the 20th anniversary of LEGACY and Maggie will be celebrating on June 1st, 2012 at the International House on the campus of University of Chicago.

Maggie has toured nationally in concert, released recordings with major artists as well as through her own independent label, MagPie Records. She is well known in Chicago for her concert appearances at Millennium Park, Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival and at colleges and venues throughout the Midwest.

Maggie is called upon by various arts organizations and schools to serve as Artist-In-Residence.  Maggie enjoys using those classroom opportunities to engage young minds with poetry and songs that help them recognize and hopefully value their place in the world. Mother of three young boys, Maggie sees the need to work through the Arts to make an impact on young lives. Her message fosters care and respect for words, music, history and life. Miss Maggie’s vocal musicianship proudly heralds the legacy left by those who came before us.

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.” Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.

NIKKI GIOVANNI was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather’s alma mater, in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the “Princess of Black Poetry,” and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s twenty-five “Living Legends.”

Many of Giovanni’s books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Acolytes, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her children’s picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. Rosa also reached #3 on The New York Times Bestseller list. Shortly after its release, Bicycles: Love Poems reached #1 on Amazon.com for Poetry.

Giovanni’s spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album Truth Is On Its Way, on which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a top 100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.

Giovanni’s honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her! Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner for work that expands opportunities for other women of color.

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM

August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean and Two Trains Running (both on Broadway); for Jitney (Off-Broadway), he received 2000 Obie, Drama Desk, and AUDELCO Awards, also Mark Taper Forum (NAACP and Ovation Awards) and London’s Royal National Theatre.  He was seen in Radio Golf at CenterStage, Goodman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum (2006 Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Award for Best Supporting Actor), Yale Repertory Theatre, and Boston (IRNE Award for Best Supporting Actor). Off-Broadway: The Talented Tenth (MTC) and Tracers, Ice Bridges, Black Visions and King Lear (the Public Theater/NYSF).  Other: The Mighty Gents, Back in the World (AUDELCO nomination), Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death (first national tour), No Place to Be Somebody, and Tracers (UK, Australia).  Film: 13 Tzameti, Up Tight!, Beloved, Reign Over Me, and Blackout. TV: “100 Centre Street,” “Hack” (recurring), “Law & Order: SVU,” “Vietnam War Stories” (Cable Ace nomination), “Third Watch,” “New York Undercover,” “The Handler” and HBO’s “Oz” (series regular).

Raquelle Chavis

Raquelle Chavis has performed throughout the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the Soviet Union, and Asia as an outstanding 8 year Soloist / Principle Dancer with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater under the direction of Alvin Ailey until his death in 1989, and Judith Jamison until 1994. Raquelle Chavises artistry was never limited to dancing; she is also an accomplished singer, songwriter, choreographer, stage director, playwright and actor.

She was eighteen when she assisted legendaries; Director -William Hammerstein and Choreographer -Talley Beatty on the European production of Carmen Jones; at nineteen she joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Post Ailey she has appeared on and off Broadway; recorded music for Sony/BMG & Warner music in Germany, and Australia; Written, Directed, Choreographed, and staged Theatrical Productions in the U.S.A and Europe.

Currently Raquelle Chavis is creating works for Geechie Anne Productions Inc. a Multidisciplinary Performing Arts Company founded in 1997, incorporated in 2007; whose works are built upon the foundations laid by the iconic Directors, Choreographers, and Producers she has worked with over the years, to reveal her stories about the past and present human experience.

Not limited to Chavises work solely, Geechie Anne Productions is also devoted to the interdependence of works from experienced professional Artists World wide to ensure the highest quality product is presented annually.

Raquelle Chavis is a recipient of the 2010 “ASTRAL” Award from The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts “Young Arts”