Imani Uzuri

Imani Uzuri

Imani Uzuri
Imani Uzuri, Keynote/Performer

Imani Uzuri is a vocalist, composer and cultural worker who has been called "a post modernist Bessie Smith" by The Village Voice. She composes and researches music that reflects her rural North Carolina roots where she grew up singing Spirituals and line-singing hymns with her grandmother and extended family.

She has recently been praised in the New York Times for her "stirring" music and her "gorgeously chesty ruminations". Uzuri creates concerts, experimental theater, performance art, theater compositions and sound installations in international venues/festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, New York’s Central Park SummerStage, Joe’s Pub, Public Theater, Performa Biennial, France’s Festival Sons d’hiver, Met Breuer, London’s ICA, and MoMA. Uzuri has also collaborated with a wide range of noted artists across various artistic disciplines including musicians Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Vijay Iyer; visual artist Wangechi Mutu; conceptual artists Carrie Mae Weems, Sanford Biggers; choreographer Trajal Harrell; poet Sonia Sanchez and composer Robert Ashley.

Uzuri is composer and co-lyricist for the new musical GIRL Shakes Loose, selected for the 2016 O’Neill National Music Theater Conference. She was a Park Avenue Armory Artist-In-Residence in 2015-2016 and was recently awarded a Map Fund to begin composing her contemporary opera Hush Arbor. In 2016 Uzuri made her Lincoln Center American Songbook debut as well as being a featured performer onBET for Black Girls Rock. She is currently a 2016-17 Jerome Foundation Composer/Sound Artist Fellow. 

Uzuri recently received her Master of Arts from Columbia University in African American studies researching the liturgy, performativity and "subversive salvation" of New Orleans based street preacher, visual artist, musician and mystic Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980). She has written essays for The Feminist Wire and Ebony and her work is currently included in the anthology BAX 2016: Best American Experimental Writing. 

Uzuri is the founder and artistic director of Revolutionary Choir —community singing gatherings formed to teach historical and new protest/freedom songs of resistance and resilience.