March 2009

urban griots awards animation (600pxl)


Quick Link to the Urban Griots Awards Voting Ballot:

Quick Link to the Urban Griots Awards Show at the Varsity:
– Myspace:
– Facebook:

You may have heard the buzz about the Urban Griots Awards, or the ads on KMOJ + KFAI radio stations. An awards show celebrating the spoken word community in Minnesota and beyond, and presenting the first MN Spoken Word Hall of Fame, the Urban Griots Awards will be taking place on April 3rd at the Varsity Theater. With a packed evening of performers, and over 30 categories presented, the Awards ceremony will be a night not to miss.

To bring you this celebration, we sent over 175 nomination forms to folks in the spoken word and spoken word related communities––locally, nationally and globally––to determine the finalists in each category. The categories cover the breadth of the spoken word community in Minnesota, including some national categories. They not only celebrate artists but also events, community organizers, artist activists, producers, and creative work ranging from albums to theatre productions to radio shows to books released by spoken word artists. Plus we honor those that have laid the foundation for the community and art form today with the MN Spoken Word Hall of Fame. The project is supported by noted and respected artists in the community from Jessica Care Moore, Amiri Baraka, J. Otis Powell!, Taalam Acey, Carolyn Holbrook, David Mura, Kevin Coval, and others.

With the Urban Griots Awards we are doing something a little different, we are presenting two awards per category. There will be a Peoples Award and a Judges Award. Also we are providing samples and excerpts of work of nominated artists, and artistic work, for as many categories as we can, right in the voting ballot. We have also included, where possible, information about the artists, including highlights and special recognition, and artistic information and statements from the artists themselves, about their work or the project. This way voters can become familiar with as many of the nominated artists and work as possible, so they can make a more informed decision about each of the categories. We also hope that you will be introduced to an artist or a work that you may not be familiar with.

For the Judges Award we have sent information to over 30 judges in the spoken word and spoken word related communities. We’ve selected a wide range of judges, with knowledge and expertise in the field, from artists to organizers to promoters to press, and including noted artists from around the globe and in Minnesota.

For the Peoples Award we are coming to you, the People. We are asking you to cast your votes for the Awards, Now, so your voice can be heard. We also ask that you spread the Word, and pass on the information to your lists, networks and friends. The voting is open to anyone, anywhere. You do not have to live in Minnesota or in the U.S. The spoken word community is wide and vibrant, and we want to hear from you. This is why we have provided work samples and excerpts, and nominee information, so you can make the most informed decision as possible, regardless of where you are based.

* The only limit with the voting is that you can only vote once per IP address, this is to protect against multiple voting by a single person. We realize this may limit folks in certain situations but we feel this is the best way at this time to protect the integrity of the online voting process.

To cast your vote, you can go to this link:

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact us at

We hope that you will join us as we celebrate the Spoken Word community and art form. We thank you for your time and your support. All the best.


Urban Griots Organizing Committee
& MN Spoken Word Association

# # #

Note: The response to the Urban Griots Awards have been great. We have included some of them below. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

“Thank you for nominating me for such a amazing award. It is always a great honor to be recognized for ones work.”

“Wow, what an honor!! I’m deeply humbled receiving this finalist nomination, especially from MNSWA, an organization which does so much arts organizing in many communities.”

“Wow, I’m speechless! It never even occurred to me that I might be considered for this august award.”

“Thanks so much for doing this whole thing and for the nomination. What a great thing for spoken word and slam in the Twin Cities.”

“i think this is a great idea and kinda interested in learning what you all do and maybe trying to do it in chi as well somewhere down the road.”

“Thanks for all the great work you do for the community.”

“Thanks for doing this. Hopefully it can give spoken word in MN a much needed shot in the arm.”

“With an initiative like this I do see it succeeding well”

“Oh wow! How amazing! I am so honored and humbled!”

“This is is wonderful news. I am working on my responses right now!”

“I am speechless and truly honored.”


Urban Griots word awards

The MN Spoken Word Association Presents

The URBAN GRIOTS Spoken Word Awards Celebration
An 8 Year Retrospective Honoring One of the Nations Most Vibrant Communities
The Official National Poetry Month Kick-Off!
Friday, April 3, 2009

WHAT: An evening of historic recognition, noted nominees, awards, music and dance highlighting the magnitude of the celebrated Spoken Word community in the Twin Cities and beyond. Not to be missed performances by Twin Cities finest spoken word artists, bands, and DJs. The official 2009 National Poetry Month kick off, this evening is one of the most culturally diverse artistic gatherings held this year. A night to Celebrate and Remember!! Be sure to check out Twin Cities + National Spoken Word artists on your Spoken Word radio shows –– Tehuti: From the Griot to the MC (KFAI, 90.3fm/106.7fm,, Sundays 11pm – midnight), Spoken Soul (KMOJ, 88.9fm,, Saturdays, 10pm – midnight) and Write On RaDio! (KFAI, 90.3fm/106.7fm,, Thursdays, 11am – noon).

“What you all have here is special…don’t ever forget that.” –– Amiri Baraka (2008)

“I’ve been saying for years, the Twin Cities Spoken Word Community is one of the most advanced, and innovative, in the country, and a number of artists here can stand toe to toe with many of the top artists nationwide. It just usually doesn’t get the attention it deserves.” –– e.g. bailey (MN Spoken Word Association/Tru Ruts)

Friday, April 3, 2009. Doors at 8pm. Event at 9pm. The Varsity Theater.
308 Fourth St. S.E., Minneapolis.

$3 Before 9:30pm, $5 After 9:30pm
Advance Tickets Available at

Group Reservations are being taken now for reserved seating via email at


Master of Ceremony: Tiyo Siyolo
Music By: DJ Mixwell
Awards: Over 20 categories of awards, ranging from Spoken Word Album to New Artist of the Year to launching Minnesota’s Spoken Word Hall of Fame.

Performances By: J. Otis Powell, Truthmaze, Bao Phi, Edupoetic Enterbrainment (Frank Sentwali, Tiyo, Queen Drea), Hyder Ali, Ibe Kaba, Palabristas, Ed Bok Lee, Poetic Assassins, MPLS and St. Paul Slam Teams, Marie Chante, Guante, Chantz, Tish Jones, Lady Lit, October, Karma, Niyah Bengai and other surprise guests.

SPONSORS: KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, KMOJ Radio

Interview opportunities, digital photos and video are available upon request.

Sha Cage, MN Spoken Word Association
(612) 288-9491 or

MN Spoken Word Association (MNSWA) is one of the premier Spoken Word organizations in the nation with programming solely dedicated to spoken word and urban arts. It strives to empower youth and community through leadership, literacy, and spoken word! Programming includes: workshops and residencies in schools and community centers, regional/national travel, social justice work, area slams, radio shows, consulting and producing projects, youth leadership groups, and sustainable partnerships.

# # #