Gig Seeker Pro


London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Hip Hop Reggae


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"modern day myth-maker: walk the bloodline"

“I have a suggestion,” a photographer grumbled during a media photography session at the Great Canadian Theatre Company space. “Could we move that white sheet please? It’s too white.” The stage manager draped the curtain casually over a clothesline, creating a crumpled mass of white and shadow in the darkened theatre. While camera shutters clicked, trying to capture just the right image of writer and performer d’bi.young, she looked up, considered the change, then grinned at the surly photographer: “Thanks, that’s a great suggestion,” she said in a musical alto. “There’s much more texture now.” At that moment I realized that few people I’ve met are this genuinely unassuming about their art and themselves, willing to listen to the world around them without vanity.

d’bi.young, creator of blood.claat: one oomaan story, is, in many ways, voluminous – yet she doesn’t loom over others when she talks, eating up space; this slim, athletic woman sits poised and prepared, and when she’s ready to respond opens up and pours out personality. Voice, tone, energy, intellect; everything seems to modulate like a tide as she talks, sometimes rising in strength and power, and sometimes ebbing into ease. She is a marvellous performer even in conversation.

She explains that in Jamaica, where she spent the first 15 years of her life, “storytelling is integrated into the everyday. And I would argue that that reality is so for everybody, because every meeting, every greeting, every glance it’s all performance,” she says with a broad smile. “That sort of theatricality was a part of growing up.”

While d’bi.young’s storytelling and performance poetry does rely on her strength as a performer, it is also steeped in genuine technique. She is the daughter of Anita Stewart, a founding mother of dub poetry, and as she talks about her work she references techniques of orality, of Audre Lorde’s theories, of the connection of rhythm to language, poetry to politics, and everything to myth.
“I love mythology,” she says. “I love the idea of us being able to create our own mythology because for me it’s one big myth. People take things so seriously, but your car, your house, your girl, your man, it’s all myth.”
blood.claat is the story of 15-year-old Mudgu SanKofa, a Jamaican girl going through puberty, faced with all the obstacles and trials of a world that is split between danger, violence, poverty and orthodox religion; where the worst curse is to be called “blood claat.”
“It essentially refers to the cloth that women use during their menstrual cycle,” explains director Weyni Mengesha. “We thought, ‘Something seems terribly wrong about that,’ and we wanted to know more… It’s a story about liberation, about making sacred again those things that maybe have been scorned.”
d’bi.young and Mengesha met touring in a production of Da Kink in My Hair nearly a decade ago and became fast friends. Since then they’ve premiered blood.claat in Toronto, Montreal and Victoria, taken it to the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, won two Dora Awards and are currently being scouted to tour Europe.
In the performance, the audience is drawn into Mudgu’s mind, a world controlled and regulated by the rhythms of reggae music and her own powerful internal mythology. Mudgu becomes the storyteller, with the “room to be able to play with the audience,” says d’bi.young. And she does. Even in a brief media excerpt, original lines were changed and expressions altered or improvised, adding another level of freshness and immediacy. “The audience can’t exist just within the vacuum of itself,” explains d’bi.young. “It’s all about Mudgu’s relationship to the village, to the audience, because in them she sees herself. She wants to win them over.”
As inferred from the title, Mudgu speaks with a tamed yet strong Jamaican accent, with as little anglicizing of the dialect as possible. “You have to believe in the power of storytelling to transcend these supposed obstacles,” says d’bi.young. “Language is only one of the ways in this orchestra of communication.”

Mengesha echoes her sentiment: “There are things that people will not always capture, but there’s an overall experience that washes over the audience and they receive what they need to receive… The idea of watering down the way she has written this language never really occurred to us because we wanted to share this character.” - ottawa xpress

"people with sway"



To understand d’bi.young.anitafrika’s power, you have to see her perform. Strong, passionate and revolutionary, anitafrika is well-known for her dub poetry, richly layered poetry and dynamic theatre performances.

Her current projects include completing the second and third plays from her biomyth-trilogy, three faces of mudgu sankofa: androgyne, a poetic two-hander and word!sound!powah, a dub opera (blood.claat: one womban story was anitafrika’s first piece).

And her power continues. As one of Canada’s most exciting artists, last year she won the 2007 Toronto Arts Council Foundation Emerging Artist award and recently released her second print collection of poetry, rivers and other blackness between us.

However, it has been the evolution from performing to mentoring Toronto youth in dub theatre (urban griots of t-dot and other projects) last summer that anitafrika admits has brought her life full circle.


“I see myself as extremely powerful. I think we all are. I think to recognize one’s power is even more important, particularly when we are living in a society that glorifies apathy, so it’s very important to not only recognize your power but put it to some sort of use.

Occupying the space as a leader, teacher and elder is one of the most beautiful things about growing older. You recognize you are learning from those who came before you and from those who came after. I turned 30 in December and to recognize that as an induction into this new role of power called ‘eldership’ is an incredible process. It’s really important to teach and as you teach you learn. You not only get to realize the value of yourself, but you get to know the value of yourself in relation to community.” – S.S. - sway magazine

"pashun for revolushun inspires dub poets"

Sheila Nopper
nah-ee-lah and d’bi young are creating sparks with their word sounds. These second- generation dub poets—who are also noteworthy playwrights and actors—rhythmically fan those sparks into flames of resistance against injustice as they burn new pathways toward social liberation.

The roots of this poetic uprising were planted back in the 70s by nah-ee-lah and young’s foremothers, who include Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper and ahdri zhina mandiela. Through their own artistic endeavours and community activism, these ‘elder’ dub poets inspired people of diverse cultural origins to stretch the boundaries of their creative expression.

They took their rebelliously empowering art to the people by reciting their poems in the streets and in schools, as well as at protests; they confronted the Eurocentric gatekeepers of the art world to demand that their art form be taken seriously; and they hlped develop the creative talents of aspiring poets, al the while finding an affinity with a wide variety of radical artists, musicians and community activists.

Allen and Cooper were the driving force behind the first International Dub Poetry Festival in 1993, as well as its June 2004 sequel, which featured an intergenerational range of women and firmly established Toronto as an epicentre of the “word sound power” movement worldwide. It was at this latest festival that I first encountered the stimulating performances of nah-ee-lah and d’bi.

Several tracks from nah-ee-lah’s 2002 CD Free Dome—which received an award from the Urban Music Association of Canada—incisively expose the multi-layered and intertwined levels of white supremacy and sexist programming. One example is “i c u too,” in which she critiques the white male tendency to view black “womyn” as exotic creatures and, correspondingly, the wannabe kids who try to “dress like who they think i be.”

On the track “real evolution,” she reminds us of our individual responsibility to bring about change. Over the simulated sound of an old scratchy record, nah-ee-lah proclaims, “real evolution will not be covered packaged or broadcast/ in lies/ real evolution/ true revolution/ begins on the/ inside.”

nah-ee-lah graciously explains that she is putting some of those ideas into practice in her personal life by learning “to listen a bit more and change how I speak to people.” This, she explains emphatically, “is expanding the possibilities of my relationships and my ability to love.” A recent example of that shift occurred when—despite her disappointments with academia, and bolstered by the encouragement of people she respects—she decided to persevere toward completing her master’s program in Fine Arts (Theatre—Playwriting) at York University. Her critique of such so-called “institutions of higher learning” will no doubt be cleverly infused into the script of her thesis play, entitled “No Knowledge College.” She expects she may one day be teaching at a university herself.

In a similar vein, nah-ee-lah has designed multimedia workshops on culture and language that examine the role of the dominant culture in repressing the creative expression of those it marginalizes. She is also enthusiastically preparing to launch a new production company that will coincide with the release of her next CD. Born in Jamaica, d’bi young, a self-described “blackbushoomaan,” grew up watching her mother, Anita Stewart (also known as Anilia Soyinka), perform throughout that country during the 80s as the only woman member of the legendary politically-charged dub poetry group, Poets in Unity.

Now residing in Toronto, young is an increasingly sought-after poet and actor. Like nah-ee-lah, she is interested in exploring the dynamics of power and identity. A participant on the recent Toronto dub fest panel, “Women of the Word,” young said, “If you are truly invested in revolution, you have to investigate your relationship to power—how power is balanced in our community, how we give and receive love as women and men, how we capitalize on our power, and how we also play into the roles of submission and gender stereotyping.”

These uncompromising values permeate young’s work. Presently, she is fine-tuning the production of her “one oomaan play” entitled blood (claat), which is a reclamation of the Jamaican use of a slang epithet associated with menstruation. Young explains that the play—the first of a trilogy—“is loosely based on my life, and what it means to be a woman, an African woman, a black woman, what it means to be womanist, feminist, working-class, a full-time artist, and how we tell stories responsibly.”

In it she plays eight characters, male and female, who, through conversations with each other, “reveal how they deal with blood—blood in violence, blood in molestation, blood as menstrual cycles leading to birth, and blood as ancestry and lineage.”

At Toronto’s 2004 Summer Works Theatre Festival, blood (claat) was nominated for best play and young was credited w - herizons magazine

"d'bi.young's revolushun"

art on black/she in transishun
by d'bi.young ( Women's Press, 2005; $19.95)
At the book launch for the print-version of her award-winning play da kink in my hair, playwright trey anthony introduced d'bi.young âe" whose standout performance as Staci-Anne was one of da kink's many showstealers âe" by saying, âeoeThere are people who are talented, and there are people who are just touched, you know?âe
The publication of young's art on black is one of those community milestones you wait for. And young is one of those artists you see around over the years and want to watch where she's going to go, because you know she's always going somewhere, and it's going to be an interesting place.
I've watched young go from launching her first spoken word CD, when the love is not enough, fresh from Concordia in Montreal (2000), to travelling to Cuba and collaborating with talented Afro-Cuban hiphop artists and producing her second spoken word with music CD to becoming one of the stars of da kink in my hair to winning two Doras (outstanding new play and outstanding performance by a female in a principal role in a play) in 2006 for her play blood.claat: one womban story.
Then there are those âeoesmallerâe accomplishments: winning the CBC Poetry Face-Off in 2004; starring in Vision TV's Lord Have Mercy (as the baldheaded women's studies major working the leather jacket and talking about Audre Lorde), and producing four albums and five plays in six years. Young's multi-genred brilliance as a dub poet, actor and theatre creatrix lights any space she graces on fire.
So it's a celebration that art on black âe" the first written collection of young's work to date âe" has been published by Women's Press. The book collects many pieces of dub poetry created by young from the late 90s to the present. young pulls off what many spoken word artists try and fail to do âe" rocking the page as much as she rocks the stage. In art on black, she takes us on a journey through her growth as a young black Jamaican woman coming of age in Jamaica and Canada. Her work feels very much in keeping with the West African concept of Sankofa, which literally translates to mean "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot," and is used today across the pan-African world to promote the idea that African people must go back to our roots in order to move forward. In a similar way, young's words are a refusal to forget Jamaican women's traditions and stories in North America, as well as reaching back to reclaim earlier histories âe" the female body's wisdom and the wisdom of the Orishas (Yoruban manifestations of God worshipped throughout the global African diaspora.)
In âeoedubbin revolution,âe the first of the bookâe(TM)s three sections, young's older pieces can be found, which establish a baseline of work for the collection. In placing keystone pieces like, âeoeChildren of a lesser god...âe , âeoeMamaâe and âeoeCyclesâe here, young begins to articulate who she is, connecting herself to her female ancestry and exploring menstrual cycles, the body, surviving incest, violence, racism, America and homophobia. It's a pleasure to see classic pieces like, âeoeain't i a oomanâe âe"âeoeteachah seh: welcome class to feminism 101 we a guh talk bout gloria steinem betty friedan/ the liberation of di white middle-class oomaan...âe âe" and âeoejohnny fi hornett,âe about one young Black man's death from police brutality, which many will have heard young perform, on the page to savour.
The second section, âeoe3,âe contains a diversity of pieces, many of which are shorter, including âeoethe orisha letters,âe 8 short pieces directly addressing the orisha Ogun (the deity of war, iron, labour) and Yemonja (the divine mother and goddess of the sea). The reader is reminded of Audre Lorde's direct addresses to the Orisha in her poetry; young has a similar commitment to making her relationship with Orisha new and articulating it.
The final section, âeoeHybrid,âe contains newer work and some prose/poetic pieces. I especially appreciated âeoeletter to tchaiko,âe where young speaks from the heart about her work to negotiate living between Jamaica, Toronto and Cuba in her creation and life as a diasporic artist still deeply rooted in home. âeoeGendah bendahâe and âeoebrown skin ladyâe are two longer poems, both of which are courageous and important. Hearing young chant in âeoegendah bendahâe (whether in your head as you read her words or when sheâe(TM)s live on stage) âe" âeoeTo all my people who be fucking with gender lines... to all weirdoes... to all chichi ma. Maama man. Sodomite. Butch dyke. Malecon. Femme...âe âe" is an important moment in queer of colour and queer Caribbean poetic movement.
âeoeBrown skin ladyâe is a poem that will resonate with anyone returning home from exile/diaspora and navigating the longing and challenges there:
'come buy some ackee from mi nuh nice girl'
'ay foreighnah, mi waan talk to yuh likkle bit you know'
'dark skin lady, a selli - rabble


wombanifesto lp. independent. 2010



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 is steadily making a global name for herself as a dynamic, 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 content that crosses and questions cultural boundaries, social norms and stereotypes; making her a musician of the now!

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 the globally celebrated father of dubpoetry, linton kwesi johnson and the world-renowned jean binta breeze, she brings her own wombanist flair to the mix by 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, d'bi.young's work is opportune.

her 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 d’bi.young’s 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.

I am an afrikan-jamaican storyteller – dubpoet, monodramatist, and educator – who believes in art for social transformation. 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.

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 experie