Legacy Leonard
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Legacy Leonard

Band Spoken Word Singer/Songwriter


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"Spoken Rythmz"

Check out this link for the interview with Legacy Leonard: http://www.spokenrythmz.blogspot.com/ - Spoken Rythmz

"Timbooktu - September 2004 Featured Artist"

http://www.timbooktu.com/timar04c.htm - Timbooktu.com

"the poetry of anger the rhetoric of anger"

Here at UM-Dearborn tonight, an explosive poetry exchange featuring Arab-American and African-American spoken word artists and poet-activists. Dubbed "Over the Counter, Under the Skin," the event at once provoked audience members and celebrated the power of words.

Anger served as the dominant motif of much of the poetry. Omari King Wise of Detroit's own 3rd Eye Open collective performed several pieces about various intersections of injustice including a raging poem addressed to Bush-Cheney about the invasion of Iraq: "Are you too right wing to do the right thing?" And riffing on the name of Saddam Hussein: "You got me so damn mad, I have to wonder who sane?" Karega Ani was the evening's standout, and, taken with his pitch perfect slam-poetry delivery and his Last Poets-esque voice, I picked up one of his CDs afterward. Ani juxtaposes neo-soul and radicalism, moving between spoken and sung words. Really engaging stuff. Definitely hope to see more of him around Detroit.

Legacy Leonard ended the night with a poem about perceived mistreatment of African-American shoppers at the hands of Arab-American shopkeepers in Detroit. An interesting cultural moment. The evening's performers: half black, half Arab. The audience (according to my *extremely* rough estimate): one-third black, one-third Arab, one-third white. The topoi: as divisive as any tackled during the whole performance. A very "Detroit" moment, too...blunt, raw, agonistic. Another reminder that the evening's version of "multiculturalism" went beyond tired tropes of one-ness. Anger as a teaching tool, as a mode of learning.

During the q-and-a, a man self-identified as an Arab-American store-owner in the city and articulated offense at what he perceived to be the poem's generalization and stereotyping. He referenced several violent crimes and explained that he never refers to the perpetrators by their race, but rather as criminals. Another moment, also uncomfortable, blunt, raw, personal. Vigorous discussion followed. No consensus, but many points-of-view stated in a public forum (and I would say a safe one, too, though I hesitate to characterize the atmosphere, as others perhaps felt differently).

In the world of rhetoric--and often in the worlds of poetics too--anger too often becomes yet another subset of emotion, a lesser motivator, a lesser (base) strategy for knowledge construction, for communication, for social change. The ineffectual step-sibling of rationality. Indeed, somebody after the event suggested to me that the anger at times gave the poetry an err of superficiality. She suggested that anger is the superficial emotion, that *pain* is the deeper emotion that the poet ought to expose.

But I say, why? At this performance--a rhetorical *and* poetic space--anger, emotion, affect all took a collective bow, becoming a prompt for reflection, a prompt for more discourse, more language, more dialogue. Why is anger a lesser starting point? Why does anger need to be seen only as the surface experience with the material world? I need to think more about the role anger plays in rhetoric. This was extremely scattered--sorry about that--but I wanted to get all of this down right away. - http://bdegenaro.blogspot.com/2006/02/poetry-of-anger-rhetoric-of-anger.html

"Rep Your City Interview"

http://www.turnerround.com/legacy/blaklight-legacy-020406.mp3 - Vocalized Ink Radio

"Detroit Beatz Interview"

http://www.detroitbeatz.com/media/show27.mp3 - DetroitBeatz.com

"Chaotic Dreams interview"


AngelaMichelle: Published at the age of 13! That's very impressive. At what age do you remember first putting pen to paper prior to that?

Legacy: The earliest I could recall was when I was about 8 years old. I used to sit in class and write and illustrate stories. By the time I was 9 or 10 I was sharing my stories with my friends and they were totally drawn in. Back then it was stories. My real passion for poetry did not come until my late middle school/early high school years.

AngelaMichelle: By reading your bio, you seem to have always been surrounded by a creative/artistic atmosphere. Was this an encouraged pursuit or a product of self-motivation?

Legacy: Having access to a creative atmosphere, having teachers that helped cultivate my gifts, and parents that supported my artistic aspirations from a young age definitely encouraged my growth and development as an artist. At the same time I had a definite idea of where I wanted pursue my gifts from my elementary school years. I started a school newspaper in the 5th grade year, and it was my goal to become a journalist. I stayed focused on this goal through my high school years even up until the time I graduated from high school. It wasn't until after I served an internship at the Detroit Free Press that I discovered I did not want to be a journalist. My passion for creative writing had not waned, but it had not been my primary focus. After the Free Press internship I turned back to poetry and fiction writing with a passion.

AngelaMichelle: How has that early influence inspired your poetry, and vis versa?

Legacy: It gave me a great resource of inspiration to draw from and freedom in my creative process. When you have an atmosphere that is conducive to creating it is a beautiful thing.

AngelaMichelle: What poets or authors, novice or established, influence the scope of your writing?

Legacy: The very first set of writers that inspired me were Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Shakespeare and many of the great "classic" authors. Growing up I had access to so many books and spent a great deal of time reading all sorts of material by various authors. I was reading very mature subjects and complex authors from the age of 9, so it gave my writing a depth beyond my years. My little mind was so serious, and I was looking at the world in such a serious manner, that perhaps most children that young did not.

As I became more invested in the craft of writing as I got older I had creative writing teachers and mentors -- Stella Crews from Broadside Press, Kaleemah Hassan, Dr. Terry Blackhawk, and Dawn McDuffie -- that helped me to cultivate and influenced my work a great deal. James Baldwin, Claude McKay, Edwidge Danticat, Arna Bontemps, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and other writers of the Black Arts Movement had a definite impact on my writing style. The poets of the Black Arts Movement, were an especial influence on my work along with Jessica "care" Moore and Saul Williams as I entered the arena of spoken word.

My reading over time has expanded to include the voices, nationalities and experiences of many more types of artists, authors and poets that have had an impact on my writing and poetry.

AngelaMichelle: What, if any, research is involved in the development of your pieces?

Legacy: One of the things I pride myself on is that my poetry is always based in reality -- based on the experiences, feelings and lives of real people. Much of my poetry deals with social, political, and life issues. You have to read and know the issues in order to write about them effectively. Most importantly, you have to have a sense of compassion, a righteous indignation against injustice and a heart for the people. I can't tell a story I have not lived, but I can allow myself to feel that pain, to sympathize and tell that story with as much sincerity as possible.

A good writer always reads and keeps their finger on the pulse of people and the world around them. If we are detached from what is going on with the people and environment around us, how can we be effective storytellers? So yes, research definitely goes into my pieces -- particularly the ones dealing with national and world issues, political issues, social issues etc.

AngelaMichelle: What atmosphere would you say aids you in the writing process?

Legacy: Music. Music has always been a major part of my creative process. Many times it is the song that produces the inspiration for my pieces. Some people require quiet and solitude to write, or a specific setting, and while I may require those same things at times, mostly it is the music that is the most consistent element of my writing while creating. Music is the very fluid language of the universe. It's poetry without words or poetry set to music. Inarguably, music has been the source of some of the greatest change and inspiration in the world.

AngelaMichelle: Who are you scripting to wh - Chaoticdreams.net

"The Mystery of Spoken Word in Detroit"

A dark venue with subdued lighting, incense burning, an acoustic upright bass and the audience approvingly snapping their fingers is one of the images conjured up when mentioning spoken word.

However, this isn’t an image that can be applied across the board, especially in Detroit where diversity and warmth are some of the spoken word community’s hallmarks.

"I started by walking over to an open mic, the one that was over at the Meetery Eatery (Picnap Poetry) near the corner of a friend's house," said Tom Budday, local artist and this year’s Detroit Slam Team captain. I said, "Let's go check it out." The vibe was so warm and welcoming that we ended up staying there.

No matter how they had their start, spoken word artists cover various areas and are involved in different aspects. Artists include page poets (those that recite off of paper), slam artists (performance artists that rely on reciting from memory and whose goal is competition) and everything in between. Some artists host, while others perform or are involved in promotions.

The one thing that they all share is an intense dedication to their craft and loyalty to the community.

"We have a fire and a passion and it shows in the work," said Legacy Leonard, local artist, activist and teacher. "We have this friction but it's that friction that keeps us sharp. It's like a diamond. You put that heat and that pressure and it turns into something beautiful."

As with artistic communities, Detroit’s spoken word scene has had its ups and downs. Recently, Picnap Poetry, on Friday nights, has moved from Meetery Eatery to Java Exchange, at 440 Burroughs in Detroit. It has recently been renamed Echoverse.

A few of the open mics around Detroit include: LaShaun "Phoenix" Moore’s spot on Tuesday nights at Beans n’ Bytes, on Woodward Ave and Willis in Detroit; Sparrow’s spot Creative Juicez on Saturday nights, at 17340 Lahser in Southfield; and Kalimah Johnson’s Slam @ the Max, at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which will resume in September.

Even with spots closing and new ones opening, there is constantly new blood entering the spoken word scene. No matter where the community finds itself, there is always a place for people to find the media to express themselves and impact their community.

"I'd say that a pen and a prayer is my salvation," Leonard said. "As hard as it is, my job is to capture that. You should never be uncomfortable with just being open to possibilities."

While no one image or no one artist can successfully define spoken word, one thing can be said: while Detroit’s scene can be tough, it also has tremendous love for its spoken word locations and its artists.

- José A. Rodríguez

Jose@detroitfashionpag - Detroit Fashion Pages


I Have Come Forth By Day, 2002
Black Soulstice, 2005



“A pen and a prayer is my salvation”, Legacy Leonard affirms of her burning need to create and inspire. Ever since her childhood years Legacy has been enthralled with the art of written word. First published at the age of 13 in an anthology entitled Master Mixx, and making her spoken word debut at 15 at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1995 she has shown a commanding ability to elevate and educate through poetry. Through arts and activism Legacy spreads her messages of self love, consciousness, community, upliftment and change with passion and power.

It was in 1997 after completing an internship at the Detroit Free Press that Legacy embarked upon the beginning of her performance career at the locally legendary Cafe Mahogany. In May 2001 she joined Black Ink Collective, and has honed her skills and commanded the attention of audiences in the Metro Detroit area and across the country at colleges, universities, festivals and numerous events.

She has shared stages with poetical icons The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Jessica “care” Moore, Black Bottom Collective, Third Eye Open Poetry Collective, Jamaal “Versiz” May, Queen Sheba and countless others.

Legacy has been interviewed on radio stations WHPR 88 FM (Highland Park), WGPR 107.5 FM (Detroit), and WXMD 92.3 FM and has appeared on the local talk shows "Homegrown Detroit" and "Poetic Flow", Television 68. She has appeared in the documentaries “Detroit Poets Against The War” (2003) and the internationally acclaimed “Shrinking Cities” (2004).

Legacy is one half of HipSoTry Entertainment – the perfect blend of hip hop, soul and poetry, an emerging talent booking and management agency. She travels around the country with Hip-Poe-Tics, a lecture and performance activism series, which teaches college and university students how to target issues, organize and use art to aspire to activism. As a newly inducted member of the Strange Fruits, a collective of 8 women artists from across the country, she works in collaboration with the Strange Fruit non-profit program that caters to girls between the ages of 8-18, conducting writers workshops, offering counseling and self esteem building. She is also a member of the activist performance collectives Progressive Artists for The Millions More Movement (PAMMM), Pitch Black Poetry Collective, and Deph-Onyx.

Once a former gang member, Legacy now spends much of her time contributing to community activism and empowerment. She continues to support various causes, and organizing and coordinating community events. “The power belongs to the people, and only through positive investment can we counteract the negativity that destroys our people and our communities. It is so important to utilize the arts as a vehicle of positive and progressive change”

She pursues and polishes her craft as a writer and performer at local workshops and venues. Stanford University’s Black Arts Quarterly has recently featured her work. Legacy is currently working on her first book, "Babylon Batafurai".

To witness a living testament to the power and peace of spoken word, you must experience Legacy Leonard in the flesh. “The universe was spoken into existence through words, and through the word we can change our lives and the world.”

Publishing Credits:

1993 Master Mixx, City of Detroit, Summer Youth Arts program publication
1994 Purlie, City of Detroit, Summer Youth Arts program publication
1994 Passages II, Communication & Media Arts High publication
1995 Thunderous Words, Detroit Institute of Arts publication
1997 Style!, InsideOut Literary Arts publication
2002 Black Ink: Volume I, independent anthology
2007 “Babylon Batafurai” and “In Defense of Poets”, Chaotic Dreams Online E-Zine
2007 “Bleeding Sunset”, Stanford University Black Arts Quarterly
2007 “11Kings”, “Gita”, “Kali” and “Lousiana Goddamn”, Chaotic Dreams Online E-Zine

Performance Resume Upon Request.

Contact Information:

Legacy Leonard
Email: legacyleonard@gmail.com
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/legacyleonard
Hipsotry Entertainment: http://www.hipsotry.com
Hip-Poe-Tics Lecture & Performance Activism Series: http://www.myspace.com/hippoetics
Official Legacy Leonard Site: http://www.legacysoasis.com

For Booking:

Uhuru Cipher Management
Omari Barksdale
(313) 989-8957

HipSoTry Entertainment
Gabriel N. Bennett
(800) 672-2027