storytelling was taught to me by my mother; she was taught storytelling by her mother. I create art that allows me (and the people who witness and participate in my work) to locate ourselves in complex conversations around identity, belonging, community, herstory, family, displacement and other ways in which we intersect and overlap. I create art about self-reflection and analysis within the context of social change, highlighting our collectivisms and individualities as a part of one humanity. it is important to work among people of our global community and experience our prisms of identity as we create stories about ourselves that reflect each other.
from new york’s def poetry jam to london’s hackney empire theatre; from cape town’s badilisha poetry exchange to kingston jamaica’s red bones blues café, d’bi.young's global reputation precedes her. a dynamite socially-conscious trail-blazing tour-de-force, she is a poet and dancehall mc whose lyricism stems from the highly political genre of dubpoetry. her unique fusion of dubpoetry, dancehall, and hiphop (what she terms 'dubtryp') produces a pepperpot of rhythmic storytelling that crosses and questions cultural boundaries, social norms and stereotypes; making her a visionary griot.
this dancehall-diva-urban-warrior-chanting-conscious-fyah on the mic, is dub-roots-reggae, infused by dangerous dancehall riddims colliding with heavy hiphop beats and funked out punk. the daughter of anita stewart, a dubpoetry pioneer, d'bi.young grew up in kingston, learning at the feet of the genre's early practitioners. following in the footsteps of dubpoetry's internationally celebrated linton kwesi johnson and the world-renowned jean binta breeze, young brings her own wombanist flair to the mix; applying an intersectional-oppression-awareness framework to all that she creates. her rhymes sear with provocative social commentary while maintaining their commitment to the sensual poetics of storytelling.
a headliner at numerous festivals worldwide (including badilisha in cape town, canwest cabaret in the historic distillery district, the calgary international folk and spoken word festivals, vancouver folk festival, havana international reggae festival, and toronto’s international dubpoetry festival) d'bi.young is the future of dub, dancehall and hiphop. at a time when we desire music to be simultaneously conscious, wom(b)anist, sexy and danceable, her work is opportune.
young's latest album 'wombanifesto,' released summer 2010, is a celebration of the fierce, the fearless, and the feminist in all of us. the lp boasts a rebellious collection of sixteen cross-genre dubtryp tracks, soaked in her gritty awe-inspiring delivery; featuring musicians from havana, montreal, and toronto as well as the genius works of cuban producer pablo herrera and armenian- egyptian producer haig vartzbedian.
award-winning african-jamaican dubpoet, monodramatist and educator d’bi.young is indeed one of north america's most celebrated storytellers and for good reason. throughout this decade alone she has created six albums, published three books, produced six plays, written the sankofa trilogy, starred in lord have mercy - canada's first multi-ethnic sitcom, featured in trey anthony’s da kink in my hair, toured and lectured nationally and internationally, founded anitafrika dub theatre (anitafrika.com), participated in seven residencies, and garnered numerous awards and grants, all while raising her two young sons, moon and phoenix.
dub is word. dub is sound. dub is powah.
dub poetry is performance/poetry/politrix/roots/reggae/revolushun. dub emerged from the psyche/ life experience of conscious youths in jamaica (such as oku onoura, mikey smith, anita stewart, mutabaruka, jean binta breeze, poets in unity, cherry natural, and many others) and in england (such as linton kwesi johnson and benjamin zephaniah) in the late 70s, early 80s. centred around the cultural training centre (now the edna manley college of the visual and performing arts) these young artists-revolutionaries demanded an art form that would represent and reflect the Jamaican working class linguistically, socially, and politically. coming from the roots of reggae, dubpoetry fiercely challenges capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression, while riding a wicked reggae beat. through this old/new form of poetry /music, an outgrowth of the afrikan griot tradition, jamaicans and people worldwide continue to identify with transformational art and struggle.
biomyth monodrama (as named and practiced by d'bi.young anitafrika) is theatrical solo- performance work, written and acted by the same person, inspired by parts of the creator's biographical experience using poetry, music, myth, magic, monologue and dialogue (primarily with the audience) to weave the story together. the fourth wall is rarely present as the performer blends the divide between real and make-believe, audience and storyteller. the creative process of biomyth monodrama is heavily rooted in d'bi.young's orplusi priniciples of storytelling: orality, rhythm, political content and context, language, urgency, sacredness, and integrity. these fundamental principles are used to guide the monodramatic creative process. through the intersection of these ideas, the monodramatist can explore and expand their relationship with/among themselves as storyteller, the village(s), and social transformation.
monodramas by d'bi.young
d’bi.young’s first biomyth monodrama ‘blood.claat,’ a young girl's coming-of-age story, was nominated for 5 dora awards and won in 2 categories for outstanding new play and outstanding performance in 2006. the second play ‘preshah (aka benu),’ about mothering and motherlessness, completed a canadian tour to critical acclaim in 2009. and the third play ‘word! sound! powah! was featured at the canadian stage’s festival of ideas and creation and recently played to rave reviews at the toronto fringe festival. d’bi.young is the 2009-2010 playwright-in-residence at canstage theatre and a member of tarragon theatre’s 2010 playwright unit, working on word! sound! powah!.
the trilogy charts the journey of three generations of afrikan-jamaican womben: mudgu sankofa, her daughter sekesu sankofa, and sekesu's daughter benu sankofa. in word! sound! powah! a young dubpoet named benu has found herself swept up in the political spirit of revolution in jamaica in the 1970s. she has been arrested and the play follows her interrogation by constable brown as she recounts how the urge for arts students to express themselves poetically has led to them to imagining, lobbying and fighting for a better world and equality and prosperity for the urban poor of jamaica.
word! sound! powah!
* 5/5 the tmtm show ciut, was nothing less than her usual brilliance - donna g
* 5/5 toronto sun, simply arresting! - errol nazareth,
* 5/5 twisitheatreblog.com, don’t miss it!' - amanda campbell
word! sound! powah! is a story of one people’s quest for justice, equality and freedom for the country that they love. it is a story that celebrates the beauty, eloquence, powah and beat of dub poetry and how it can be used to effectively ignite the fervour for change in the world. it is a story of corrupt law enforcement and lying politicians and empowered revolutionaries who refuse to forget their ancestors. at a time when torontonians have recently witnessed massive injustice on our streets and the stifling of the voices of the people by those sworn to protect them, at a time when canadians fear that their democratic values are not being reflected or enforced in the largest city in their country, word! sound! powah! is hauntingly relevant. d’bi.young has recently begun her second trilogy premiering with the monodrama ‘she’ exploring the many faces of one womban.
for over a decade d’bi.young has designed, coordinated and facilitated hand-crafted workshops aimed at supporting dialogues of change in her many communities. all sessions are grounded in an intersectional-oppression-awareness framework and are rooted in storytelling for social transformation. suitable for all, they are created with specific groups in mind. generally, anyone interested in storytelling be it through writing , performing, directing, witnessing, teaching, and facilitation can participate. they explore socio-political issues using the orplusi principles of storytelling being developed by d’bi.young: orality, rhythm, political content and context, language, urgency, sacredness, and integrity, as mediums of social change. together, participants uncover resources located within an afrikan-oral-storytelling-herstorical framework. critical analysis is a crucial component as participants (re)negotiate accountability and responsibility between storyteller and community; the artist as leader and keeper of the sacred. these workshops have been successfully programmed in south africa at the university of the western cape, in canada at the magnetic north theatre festival, in the united states at the illinois youth centre-warrenville and at various universities, high schools, community centres, theatres, youth programs, town halls and rallies worldwide.
workshops by d'bi.young
01 riddim. rage. revolushun: dubpoetry masterclass
02 the 7 orplusi principles of storytelling
03 the storyteller’s integrity
04 biomyth monodrama
05 oppression awareness and storytelling
06 poetry is not a luxury
07 we are what we eat: food, storytelling, and integrity
08 ain’t I a womban: (re) defining black wombanhood, self-esteem and self-empowerment
09 the storytellers’ monologue: a sacred space for womban healing
10 womben and self recovery: creative writing as a healing expression
11 fiction meets non-fiction: the intersectionality of identity
12 (re) defining black masculinity, self-esteem and self-empowerment
INFLUENCES: dancehall . roots reggae . hiphop . punkrock
when sisters speak live. 2008.
animal farm single. zoobone records. 2005.
blood demo. 2003.
xperimentin dub with manana reggae band. 2002.
xperimentin dub with dub trinity reggae band. 2001.
when the love is not enough. 2000.
untitled: africanadian theatre. ed. playwright canada press, 12. (forthcoming)
sankofa monodrama trilogy: blood.claat, preshah, word! sound! powah! playwrights canada press, 11. (forthcoming)
rivers and other blackness between us: (dub) poems of love. women’s press, 07.
blood.claat. playwrights canada press, 06.
art on black. women’s press, 06.
km hunter theatre award 10, toronto arts council emerging artist award 07, outstanding
performance & outstanding design - benu 09 now magazine, naacp award best ensemble cast 07 - da kink in my hair, best solo artist 06 - national post & eye weekly, best play blood.claat 06 - eye weekly & gayguide toronto, 2 dora awards - blood.claat 06 - outstanding new play & outstanding female, harold theatre award 05, spotlight award blood.claat 04 - summerworks, da kink in my hair 04 - dora nomination outstanding female, best storytelling actor & dubpoet 04 - now magazine, nourbese philip award 02, artstarts emerging community artist award 02
international residency grant - ontario arts council 10, theatre creation grant - canada council for the arts 10, playwright residency grant – ontario arts council 09, theatre creators reserve grants – ontario arts council 09, writers reserve grants – ontario arts council 09-10, writers grant – toronto arts council 07, professional development grant – ontario arts council 07, career development grant – canada council for the arts 07, spoken word grant – canada council for the arts 01, 03, 06, writer’s reserve grants – ontario arts council 03, 07, artist-educator grant – ontario arts council 04, 09