PIECE
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PIECE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
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"Let's Do Breakfast"

The Real Change Annual Breakfast is different. This year’s — the Fifteenth Annual, Tuesday, October 20th, 7:30-9:00 a.m., at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion — is especially different.

As you enter, the first thing you notice is that nearly everyone who cares about the same things as you is there. It’s a gathering of the tribe. Despite the clearly ridiculous hour, there is joy in the air. As you settle in, rising hip-hop star Laura Piece Kelly takes the stage. Your jaw conveniently drops as breakfast commences. A short video that’s as real as real can be and our vendor recognition ceremony puts a lump in your throat, thus impeding the progress of your toast. Moments later, an attractive piece of Lucite is placed in the hands of Seattle icon Roberto Maestas, who says god-knows-what to mark the occasion.

Then comes the call to arms, typically delivered by me. This year, the stakes are unusually high and the future more than uncertain. Our purpose is brought to mind.

Your coffee is warmed just as mild-mannered PBS travel guide Rick Steves takes the stage. He is passionate, engaging, and more radical in his essential belief in our common humanity than you imagined possible. He winds up and makes the pitch. Love-flavored endorphins course through your veins as you reach for your checkbook, knowing that any gifts of $200 or more will be matched by the Lucky Seven Foundation.

Piece takes the stage again and performs something that, not long ago, inspired a bear hug from the Dalai Lama. Your jaw drops again. As the morning wraps, you realize that little more than an hour has passed. Your quiche, now cold, is still on your plate. You don’t care. You are warmed. The feeling stays with you a long while.

If Not You, Who? - Real Change News Tim Harris


"To a B-girl from the Central District, hip-hop offered a direction away from home."

Two years ago, somebody broke into Laura "Piece" Kelley's car and stole her bag. Inside was her journal, filled with poems, songs, and intimate details of her pregnancy and of falling in love with her now-husband. Anyone would be upset to have something so personal fall into the hands of a stranger, but for a spoken-word artist like Piece, the loss hit especially hard.

"I fell into a really bad funk and stopped writing for awhile," she reflects. "I thought maybe this is the universe's way of telling me I'm not supposed to be a poet."

Piece turned to composing melodies and beats in a modest production studio in her Burien home. A moment born of both inspiration and desperation came several months later, when she decided to attempt to rewrite all her lost material—from memory. "I realized that I had everything I needed inside of me," Piece says. "I own my experiences. You can take my notepad, but you can't take away what my body and being have been through."

From her gallant effort emerged Street Smartz: The Story of a True School B-Girl. Released in 2007, it's an articulate album that shows off Piece's silky vocals and tight rhymes. Highlights include the title track, "Street Smartz," in which Piece raps about growing up in the Central District at the height of gang violence, and "His Hands," a sultry, slow-tempo R&B jam.

It's another achievement to add to the highly respected 31-year-old's already impressive résumé. Earlier this year she performed a poignant poem, "Begin to Give," alongside the Dalai Lama at KeyArena—which he requested a copy of. She's also performed with the likes of Common, the Roots, and Blackalicious. Next she'll travel to and perform in Philadelphia in support of Barack Obama.

You'd never guess, looking at Piece now, that she had an especially difficult childhood. But soon after she was born, Piece's parents separated and the family relocated to a one-bedroom apartment in the Central District, where Piece's mother worked long hours to support three children. Gang violence and drugs plagued the neighborhood. "People would steal your paychecks from your mailbox," Piece recalls. "We had to get a P.O. box in Pike's Market and go down there every day to check the mail."

Piece began riding the bus and meandering around Pioneer Square and First Avenue by herself at age 13. She remembers drug use and prostitution being more prevalent in the area than it is today. Most significant, she remembers wanting to be like the young men she heard rapping in the streets.

"I'd started writing poetry and rapping when I was really young," Piece says. "There's video out there of me performing when I'm in seventh grade. Once I got a hold of this alternative, deep-down, dirty hip-hop culture in our city, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

"I wore big oversized jeans, a tight little shirt, and shell-top adidas," she adds, laughing. "I was one of the only girls out there, but I'd freestyle and battle with all the boys. Sometimes I'd sneak into nightclubs so I could rap onstage. It was all very empowering."

But eventually the lack of adult supervision in Piece's life caught up to her. She rarely went to class and dropped out of school in ninth grade. At 17, she moved into her own apartment, and weeks later discovered she was pregnant.

"There was very little stability in my life," Piece says. "I tried to be too independent too fast...but writing and music saved me. No matter what was going on in my life, I always had a notepad and a rhyming dictionary to help me cope."

When she isn't working on her music, Piece teaches media literacy and creative writing in the city's colleges and juvenile detention centers.

"I see kids like me today over on Third Avenue and Pike just kicking it," Piece notes. "They don't have any real destination. They're the kids trying to figure out who they are while living in small, cramped apartments.

"We need to get them into recording studios, give them notebooks and turntables. If they're expressing themselves through art, that means they're not picking up a gun or dealing drugs. Music has the power to help heal the issues on our streets. I want to give these kids the chance that it gave me." - Seattle Weekly October 1 2008 Erika Hobart


"To a B-girl from the Central District, hip-hop offered a direction away from home."

Two years ago, somebody broke into Laura "Piece" Kelley's car and stole her bag. Inside was her journal, filled with poems, songs, and intimate details of her pregnancy and of falling in love with her now-husband. Anyone would be upset to have something so personal fall into the hands of a stranger, but for a spoken-word artist like Piece, the loss hit especially hard.

"I fell into a really bad funk and stopped writing for awhile," she reflects. "I thought maybe this is the universe's way of telling me I'm not supposed to be a poet."

Piece turned to composing melodies and beats in a modest production studio in her Burien home. A moment born of both inspiration and desperation came several months later, when she decided to attempt to rewrite all her lost material—from memory. "I realized that I had everything I needed inside of me," Piece says. "I own my experiences. You can take my notepad, but you can't take away what my body and being have been through."

From her gallant effort emerged Street Smartz: The Story of a True School B-Girl. Released in 2007, it's an articulate album that shows off Piece's silky vocals and tight rhymes. Highlights include the title track, "Street Smartz," in which Piece raps about growing up in the Central District at the height of gang violence, and "His Hands," a sultry, slow-tempo R&B jam.

It's another achievement to add to the highly respected 31-year-old's already impressive résumé. Earlier this year she performed a poignant poem, "Begin to Give," alongside the Dalai Lama at KeyArena—which he requested a copy of. She's also performed with the likes of Common, the Roots, and Blackalicious. Next she'll travel to and perform in Philadelphia in support of Barack Obama.

You'd never guess, looking at Piece now, that she had an especially difficult childhood. But soon after she was born, Piece's parents separated and the family relocated to a one-bedroom apartment in the Central District, where Piece's mother worked long hours to support three children. Gang violence and drugs plagued the neighborhood. "People would steal your paychecks from your mailbox," Piece recalls. "We had to get a P.O. box in Pike's Market and go down there every day to check the mail."

Piece began riding the bus and meandering around Pioneer Square and First Avenue by herself at age 13. She remembers drug use and prostitution being more prevalent in the area than it is today. Most significant, she remembers wanting to be like the young men she heard rapping in the streets.

"I'd started writing poetry and rapping when I was really young," Piece says. "There's video out there of me performing when I'm in seventh grade. Once I got a hold of this alternative, deep-down, dirty hip-hop culture in our city, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

"I wore big oversized jeans, a tight little shirt, and shell-top adidas," she adds, laughing. "I was one of the only girls out there, but I'd freestyle and battle with all the boys. Sometimes I'd sneak into nightclubs so I could rap onstage. It was all very empowering."

But eventually the lack of adult supervision in Piece's life caught up to her. She rarely went to class and dropped out of school in ninth grade. At 17, she moved into her own apartment, and weeks later discovered she was pregnant.

"There was very little stability in my life," Piece says. "I tried to be too independent too fast...but writing and music saved me. No matter what was going on in my life, I always had a notepad and a rhyming dictionary to help me cope."

When she isn't working on her music, Piece teaches media literacy and creative writing in the city's colleges and juvenile detention centers.

"I see kids like me today over on Third Avenue and Pike just kicking it," Piece notes. "They don't have any real destination. They're the kids trying to figure out who they are while living in small, cramped apartments.

"We need to get them into recording studios, give them notebooks and turntables. If they're expressing themselves through art, that means they're not picking up a gun or dealing drugs. Music has the power to help heal the issues on our streets. I want to give these kids the chance that it gave me." - Seattle Weekly October 1 2008 Erika Hobart


"Northwest African American Museum gives a musical tribute to Quincy Jones"

Guitarist Carlos Santana wowed the crowd with scorching guitar, occasionally extending the famously singing sustain of his guitar to scribbling abstractions. He also spoke for several minutes about politics and the spiritual dimension of music he shared with Jones.

Siedah Garrett sang the Michael Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror," which she wrote, but was even more effective on her vampish version "Miss Celie's Blues" from Jones' soundtrack to the film, "The Color Purple." Garrett recast the song as an homage to Jones.

Laura "Piece" Kelley's spoken-word reminiscence of growing up in the Central District sparkled with community landmarks like Ezell's chicken and the day Empire Way became Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Earlier in the show, she sang a 1920s flapper-style song, "Picture Show," accompanied by her grandmother, pianist Ruby Bishop, a nice touch, highlighting the continuity of Seattle's musical generations.

Renowned jazz singer Ernestine Anderson, a soul mate of Jones since their teens, was in good voice on the ballad, "My Ship," and another Jones compadre from that and later eras, bassist Buddy Catlett, anchored a swinging bebop jazz quintet.

Throughout the show, video images were projected above the stage, including a surprise congratulatory speech by poet Maya Angelou.

Celebrating Jones' eclectic embrace of everything from jazz to hip-hop, the show ended with a collaboration between Kelley, Garfield High School Jazz Band horn players Zubin Hensler and Robert Struthers, DJ DV One and poetry slam champs Steve Connell and Sekou on the Charlie Parker tune "Anthropology."
- Seattle Times jazz critic Paul de Barros


"Mr. Mayor, do you hear cries for change?"

Laura "Piece" Kelley, a Seattle spoken-word artist who never got past the ninth grade, works for positive change with at-risk children. She has a passion for creating uplifting music and "authentic, positive urban arts." Here, Kelley hangs out at Left Bank Books in Pike Place Market, one of the places where she loves to write.
Mr. Mayor, do you hear cries for change?
By ROBERT L. JAMIESON JR.
P-I COLUMNIST

THEY BURIED Pierre LaPoint on Saturday, the latest young victim of gangs and guns in Seattle.

The mayor, unlike other big city mayors who show up when bullets cut down the young, wasn't on hand to pay his respects, soothe the dead teen's crying classmates or decry the futility of the gang lifestyle.

Two days later, on Monday, people gathered at a gang symposium in Burien. Law enforcement experts from North Carolina joined gang intervention experts from California. Our mayor and police chief were no-shows -- as was a top policy official in the Mayor's Office who was signed up to be there.

When it comes to dealing with the growing Seattle gang problem, which my colleague Claudia Rowe detailed in a revealing two-part series, one man has acted like the mayor -- too bad he's on the City Council. But Councilman Tim Burgess at least broke City Hall's deafening silence last week: "We haven't done enough, and we've probably made some mistakes in our response to these issues," he said.

Mayor Greg Nickels, I've learned, is up to something. He's been slow. This is not an election year, after all, and the bodies are dropping in Rainier Valley -- not the Rainier Club. It seems as if his plastic-bag policy has priority over kids in body bags.

Over the weekend, the Mayor's Office quietly communicated with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle about the half-dozen gang- related deaths that have occurred as overall violent crime in town has dropped. Those discussions continued Wednesday. The mayor, sources tell me, plans to find his voice on the violence issue by early September and unveil "a huge strategy."

Whatever emerges, there is one person whom city leaders ought to have at the table -- a young Seattle woman who dropped out of high school, got her GED and has a Ph.D. in street smarts. She has blossomed into an intelligent force for social change and become a role model for youths.

Her name? Laura "Piece" Kelley.

You may have heard the 31-year-old poet, producer and singer this past weekend at Hempfest, where her sonorous notes stirred the crowd. Maybe you saw her at KeyArena this year, when the Dalai Lama came to town. She took the big stage alone with His Holiness and offered a poem so mellifluous that he requested a copy to take home.

Hers is a voice that needs to be heard now because through her art, Kelley gets people to sit up and listen -- especially the young people the suits at City Hall hope to reach.

Take a young man named Gregory, a 12-year-old who came to Seattle from Chicago last year with a heavy heart. He walked into a spoken-word class Kelley taught at the Rainier Beach Community Center and said: "I have a poem in me."

Encouraged by Kelley, Gregory let out wrenching verse about how he'd been shot when he was just 11, caught up in an urban war he never signed up for.

Or take the girls that Kelley mentored as a program director at Powerful Voices, a Seattle nonprofit that builds self-esteem. Or the thousands of high school and college students she has lectured on the magic of poetry and music to spread messages about politics, environmentalism, class struggle, love, respect.

Kelley gives hip-hop a good name, showing the relevance and power the art form can possess -- a far cry from money-hungry record labels that use hip-hop to shill misogyny, materialism and gangbanging.

Kelley is drafting a plan to help reach at-risk kids in Seattle. Working with social service groups and community agencies, she plans to have a hand in a publication that will allow Seattle youths to write about issues on their minds, starting with violence. Many kids quietly suffer from post-traumatic stress -- when one peer falls to a bullet, it affects hundreds of others. Expressing grief is a key part of the healing. So, too, is better coordinating the small Seattle organizations trying to help these kids.

Because teens get messages and social cues from the entertainment industry, Kelley also wants to counterprogram, reaching out to Seattle video game programmers to create games that are not centered on drugs, pimping or killing.

And there is her passion for music that feeds the soul. "Music that's hype and cool," Kelley told me this week, "with messages about treating each other kindly, that uplifts and empowers, without being corny, kitschy. Authentic, positive urban arts."

Yes, Kelley deserves a seat at the table as Seattle rises to meet the challenge for youths in peril.

She exemplifies the power of transformation that is possible when people, with a helping hand, n - Seattle P.I


"Northwest African American Museum gives a musical tribute to Quincy Jones"

Guitarist Carlos Santana wowed the crowd with scorching guitar, occasionally extending the famously singing sustain of his guitar to scribbling abstractions. He also spoke for several minutes about politics and the spiritual dimension of music he shared with Jones.

Siedah Garrett sang the Michael Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror," which she wrote, but was even more effective on her vampish version "Miss Celie's Blues" from Jones' soundtrack to the film, "The Color Purple." Garrett recast the song as an homage to Jones.

Laura "Piece" Kelley's spoken-word reminiscence of growing up in the Central District sparkled with community landmarks like Ezell's chicken and the day Empire Way became Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Earlier in the show, she sang a 1920s flapper-style song, "Picture Show," accompanied by her grandmother, pianist Ruby Bishop, a nice touch, highlighting the continuity of Seattle's musical generations.

Renowned jazz singer Ernestine Anderson, a soul mate of Jones since their teens, was in good voice on the ballad, "My Ship," and another Jones compadre from that and later eras, bassist Buddy Catlett, anchored a swinging bebop jazz quintet.

Throughout the show, video images were projected above the stage, including a surprise congratulatory speech by poet Maya Angelou.

Celebrating Jones' eclectic embrace of everything from jazz to hip-hop, the show ended with a collaboration between Kelley, Garfield High School Jazz Band horn players Zubin Hensler and Robert Struthers, DJ DV One and poetry slam champs Steve Connell and Sekou on the Charlie Parker tune "Anthropology."
- Seattle Times jazz critic Paul de Barros


"Piece will show her "Street Smartz" with smooth-flowing rap and soul"

By Tom Scanlon
Seattle Times staff reporter


Laura Kelley-Jahn, best known as Piece, performs at Chop Suey Tuesday night, as an opener for Guru.
If you like the Blue Scholars mix of cool, unrushed beats and savvy lyrics, you really should check out Laura Kelley-Jahn, better known as Piece.

Blue Scholars' "Bayani" is deservedly gaining much praise on the local scene, and some are calling it one of Seattle's best-ever hip-hop recordings.

Piece doesn't have the same kind of publicity and hype behind her, but her new "Street Smartz" album compares quite favorably to "Bayani." And, like Blue Scholars' Geo, Piece reflects on urban life with a powerful artistic stance: part participant, part observer.

But don't call her a follower — Piece was dropping intelligent hip-hop long before Blue Scholars came along, and patrons of the late-'90s hot spot the 700 Club will remember her as a Jumbalaya cornerstone.

Busy lady, these days. This poetry-slam champion has been writing and performing poetry and day-jobbing with the Seattle Arts Commission and the Think Big Foundation, a nonprofit group offering youth after-school programs in athletics, arts and academics. She even put on a one-woman theater show earlier this year titled "Street Smartz: The Story of a Trueschool B-Girl."

Now, she's back to hip-hop, performing shows to promote her long-awaited second album.

With Piece smoothly flowing head-spinning rhymes, the CD features DV1 on beats, and a fat cast of musicians, including Darrius Willrich, Jessica Lurie and pianist Ruby Bishop (her grandmother and musical mentor).

Piece opens for Guru, who spins bebop into hip-hop for Jazzmatazz, at Chop Suey (9 p.m. Tuesday, $15).

A live band will back Piece, just like those 700 jam sessions. She'll be rapping the likes of the dance-friendly "We Do This" ("she sells CDs down in the Seatown/all around underground b-girl"), the satirical "Rap Star" and the nostalgic title track ("duckin' bullets and dodgin' cops ... chased with a switch/but I'm slicker than lip gloss").

After a recent, casual but sizzling set at Chop Suey, Kelley-Jahn was standing on the sidewalk in front of the club, chatting to a few associates. A few cars driving by on Madison Street paused to give a "What's up, girl?" to the artist, who exchanged pleasantries with them.

She's a true child of the streets, and her inclusion of a map of the Central District in her CD is no "front." Her set-on-the-block album covers the ground from good vibes to pathos, cutting from a double-dutch jump-rope contest to a young kid slinging crack on the corner.

She's even versatile within music, grooving funk and soul vocals as pleasingly as fast-moving raps.



Who knows how far her career would go if she lived in New York or Los Angeles. She has indeed flirted with moving, yet remains deeply rooted in Seattle.

Good for us.

- Seattle Times


"Piece will show her "Street Smartz" with smooth-flowing rap and soul"

By Tom Scanlon
Seattle Times staff reporter


Laura Kelley-Jahn, best known as Piece, performs at Chop Suey Tuesday night, as an opener for Guru.
If you like the Blue Scholars mix of cool, unrushed beats and savvy lyrics, you really should check out Laura Kelley-Jahn, better known as Piece.

Blue Scholars' "Bayani" is deservedly gaining much praise on the local scene, and some are calling it one of Seattle's best-ever hip-hop recordings.

Piece doesn't have the same kind of publicity and hype behind her, but her new "Street Smartz" album compares quite favorably to "Bayani." And, like Blue Scholars' Geo, Piece reflects on urban life with a powerful artistic stance: part participant, part observer.

But don't call her a follower — Piece was dropping intelligent hip-hop long before Blue Scholars came along, and patrons of the late-'90s hot spot the 700 Club will remember her as a Jumbalaya cornerstone.

Busy lady, these days. This poetry-slam champion has been writing and performing poetry and day-jobbing with the Seattle Arts Commission and the Think Big Foundation, a nonprofit group offering youth after-school programs in athletics, arts and academics. She even put on a one-woman theater show earlier this year titled "Street Smartz: The Story of a Trueschool B-Girl."

Now, she's back to hip-hop, performing shows to promote her long-awaited second album.

With Piece smoothly flowing head-spinning rhymes, the CD features DV1 on beats, and a fat cast of musicians, including Darrius Willrich, Jessica Lurie and pianist Ruby Bishop (her grandmother and musical mentor).

Piece opens for Guru, who spins bebop into hip-hop for Jazzmatazz, at Chop Suey (9 p.m. Tuesday, $15).

A live band will back Piece, just like those 700 jam sessions. She'll be rapping the likes of the dance-friendly "We Do This" ("she sells CDs down in the Seatown/all around underground b-girl"), the satirical "Rap Star" and the nostalgic title track ("duckin' bullets and dodgin' cops ... chased with a switch/but I'm slicker than lip gloss").

After a recent, casual but sizzling set at Chop Suey, Kelley-Jahn was standing on the sidewalk in front of the club, chatting to a few associates. A few cars driving by on Madison Street paused to give a "What's up, girl?" to the artist, who exchanged pleasantries with them.

She's a true child of the streets, and her inclusion of a map of the Central District in her CD is no "front." Her set-on-the-block album covers the ground from good vibes to pathos, cutting from a double-dutch jump-rope contest to a young kid slinging crack on the corner.

She's even versatile within music, grooving funk and soul vocals as pleasingly as fast-moving raps.



Who knows how far her career would go if she lived in New York or Los Angeles. She has indeed flirted with moving, yet remains deeply rooted in Seattle.

Good for us.

- Seattle Times


"Cool People in Seattle"

When she isn’t teaching spoken-word poetry at one of Seattle’s many schools and community centers, you can find Laura Peace Kelley sifting through 1980s garb at Seattle’s avant-garde Red Light vintage clothing store or jamming on stage with her twelve-piece band, Marmalade, at Tost in Fremont. A Master teaching artist with Arts Corp, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to arts programs for youth (k-12), Laura recently wrote and recited a poem for the Dalai Lama during his five-day visit to Seattle. An underground rapper and poet, Miss Kelley is known for her “grassroots rap” — positive and enlightening lyrical content that has the capacity to heal and change the world.


August 2008 | People In Your Neighborhood

Laura Peace Kelley

Poet, Musician and Arts Activist

Village People
My community is with my musicians — being able to take music and poetry into community centers and share it.

Seattle Sparkle
My family has been here for almost 125 years and I still feel that history in Pioneer Square. My great grandmother owned a grocery store on 2nd Ave. in 1922. Pioneer Square was a hub for cultural diversity because of the port. We had Chinese immigrants and African Americans. It was diverse and hoppin’. People like Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald came to play music here. My grandmother, Ruby Bishop, was one of the jazz greats. She is 88 years old and she still jams.

Peace in the City
We have the most amazing underground poet coffeehouses here. The Bauhaus Books, Caffe Vita, Vivace, The Elliott Bay Book Co. and Faire Gallery Café. I wrote some of my most precious poems hunched behind a notepad in the smoky lofts of Seattle’s back-alley dark cafés.

On the Catwalk
Clothes are my crazy thing. Clothes find me. I have been collecting vintage for 15 years. My style is straight-up Value Village and Goodwill. Jazzy vintage — from the 1930s to now — pinstripes and spectator pumps. Some of my fave shopping spots are Red Light, Atlas Clothing Co. and Old Duffers Stuff in the Market.

Best Kept Secret
The air and the rain. It makes for this really lush oxygenated experience. I think people can breathe easy here. Yeah, it rains a lot — but the streets are clean. I am inspired by the rain — it is so calming to sleep at night.

Where to Kick It
I head to Belltown’s Rendezvous for some good old hip-hop. The Babalu in Wallingford, Baltic Room on Fridays, ToST and Queen Anne’s Paragon on Thursdays. I also gotta plug the Lo-Fi on Tuesdays for its crazy break beats and down tempo hip-hop. - Conscious Choice Magazine


"Cool People in Seattle"

When she isn’t teaching spoken-word poetry at one of Seattle’s many schools and community centers, you can find Laura Peace Kelley sifting through 1980s garb at Seattle’s avant-garde Red Light vintage clothing store or jamming on stage with her twelve-piece band, Marmalade, at Tost in Fremont. A Master teaching artist with Arts Corp, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to arts programs for youth (k-12), Laura recently wrote and recited a poem for the Dalai Lama during his five-day visit to Seattle. An underground rapper and poet, Miss Kelley is known for her “grassroots rap” — positive and enlightening lyrical content that has the capacity to heal and change the world.


August 2008 | People In Your Neighborhood

Laura Peace Kelley

Poet, Musician and Arts Activist

Village People
My community is with my musicians — being able to take music and poetry into community centers and share it.

Seattle Sparkle
My family has been here for almost 125 years and I still feel that history in Pioneer Square. My great grandmother owned a grocery store on 2nd Ave. in 1922. Pioneer Square was a hub for cultural diversity because of the port. We had Chinese immigrants and African Americans. It was diverse and hoppin’. People like Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald came to play music here. My grandmother, Ruby Bishop, was one of the jazz greats. She is 88 years old and she still jams.

Peace in the City
We have the most amazing underground poet coffeehouses here. The Bauhaus Books, Caffe Vita, Vivace, The Elliott Bay Book Co. and Faire Gallery Café. I wrote some of my most precious poems hunched behind a notepad in the smoky lofts of Seattle’s back-alley dark cafés.

On the Catwalk
Clothes are my crazy thing. Clothes find me. I have been collecting vintage for 15 years. My style is straight-up Value Village and Goodwill. Jazzy vintage — from the 1930s to now — pinstripes and spectator pumps. Some of my fave shopping spots are Red Light, Atlas Clothing Co. and Old Duffers Stuff in the Market.

Best Kept Secret
The air and the rain. It makes for this really lush oxygenated experience. I think people can breathe easy here. Yeah, it rains a lot — but the streets are clean. I am inspired by the rain — it is so calming to sleep at night.

Where to Kick It
I head to Belltown’s Rendezvous for some good old hip-hop. The Babalu in Wallingford, Baltic Room on Fridays, ToST and Queen Anne’s Paragon on Thursdays. I also gotta plug the Lo-Fi on Tuesdays for its crazy break beats and down tempo hip-hop. - Conscious Choice Magazine


"Laura 'Piece' Kelley brings motivational brand of hip hop to UNO students"

"If you believe it then be it and live it or let it be."

These words were spoken to UNO students on Feb. 21 by Seattle-based poet Laura "Piece" Kelley Jahn.

Jahn was brought to UNO by the Student Organizations and Leadership Programs with the support from the Nebraska Arts Council, a government-funded organization supporting the arts. Jahn spoke about the culture of hip hop and its impact on her life.

"Hip hop was my safe place on the street," she recounted during the event.

She explained that hip hop is not a cultural art, but a culture in its own. But amazingly enough, Jahn is more than just words.

Jahn has been lecturing and touring for almost six years. She has performed for HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" for three seasons. She was even awarded the title of Seattle's Grand Slam Champion in 2004.

Jahn, a 10th-grade high-school dropout, is currently working on an honorary PhD. She has spent time working with juvenile delinquents to teach them the power of words and provide them with creative outlets versus returning to violence.

She is currently spending a second term as Arts Commissioner in Seattle and has been a hip-hop educator for eight years. She teaches that hip hop has an unspoken non-violence clause. Poetry, a part of hip hop, is political and can be the voice of the people.

"The power of the pen [is] the only thing more fierce than a double-sided sword," she said.

Jahn's view is that poetry is about perception. She aims to make long-term changes and that change starts with being an equal.

One poem that Jahn performed spoke about human equality and manifesting destiny. She spoke of an invisible two-sided mirror. With this mirror you see not only yourself, but those on the other side.

She also spoke of what it is like to be bi-racial, and who her people are, in a poem titled "Grey."

Jahn says her cultural influences range from Saul Williams to Stevie Wonder, Mos Def and Miles Davis. Poetic influences include Maya Angelo, Gil Scott Heron and Langston Hughes. But according to Jahn, more than anyone, her grandmother is an influence. Her grandmother has been a jazz pianist since she was young, and Jahn recently produced her grandmother's first album.

A poet, emcee, vocalist, producer, educator, activist, street healer and artist, Jahn really is a piece all on her own.

"Because hip hop is a youth born, youth sustained cultural art, it is important for us to examine the messages in music," Jahn explained. "We need to be aware of how commercialization and programming influences our belief systems. It is the responsibility of young people to reclaim our media."
- UNO


"Laura 'Piece' Kelley brings motivational brand of hip hop to UNO students"

"If you believe it then be it and live it or let it be."

These words were spoken to UNO students on Feb. 21 by Seattle-based poet Laura "Piece" Kelley Jahn.

Jahn was brought to UNO by the Student Organizations and Leadership Programs with the support from the Nebraska Arts Council, a government-funded organization supporting the arts. Jahn spoke about the culture of hip hop and its impact on her life.

"Hip hop was my safe place on the street," she recounted during the event.

She explained that hip hop is not a cultural art, but a culture in its own. But amazingly enough, Jahn is more than just words.

Jahn has been lecturing and touring for almost six years. She has performed for HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" for three seasons. She was even awarded the title of Seattle's Grand Slam Champion in 2004.

Jahn, a 10th-grade high-school dropout, is currently working on an honorary PhD. She has spent time working with juvenile delinquents to teach them the power of words and provide them with creative outlets versus returning to violence.

She is currently spending a second term as Arts Commissioner in Seattle and has been a hip-hop educator for eight years. She teaches that hip hop has an unspoken non-violence clause. Poetry, a part of hip hop, is political and can be the voice of the people.

"The power of the pen [is] the only thing more fierce than a double-sided sword," she said.

Jahn's view is that poetry is about perception. She aims to make long-term changes and that change starts with being an equal.

One poem that Jahn performed spoke about human equality and manifesting destiny. She spoke of an invisible two-sided mirror. With this mirror you see not only yourself, but those on the other side.

She also spoke of what it is like to be bi-racial, and who her people are, in a poem titled "Grey."

Jahn says her cultural influences range from Saul Williams to Stevie Wonder, Mos Def and Miles Davis. Poetic influences include Maya Angelo, Gil Scott Heron and Langston Hughes. But according to Jahn, more than anyone, her grandmother is an influence. Her grandmother has been a jazz pianist since she was young, and Jahn recently produced her grandmother's first album.

A poet, emcee, vocalist, producer, educator, activist, street healer and artist, Jahn really is a piece all on her own.

"Because hip hop is a youth born, youth sustained cultural art, it is important for us to examine the messages in music," Jahn explained. "We need to be aware of how commercialization and programming influences our belief systems. It is the responsibility of young people to reclaim our media."
- UNO


"Part emcee, part activist, part poet, part teacher"

“The most unique thing about Piece is herself. Her work is as unclassifiable as my own, she is Now, we are Now,” - Saul Williams.

“Piece is the best female poet on the scene.” - The Last Poets

Part emcee, part activist, part poet, part teacher, Laura Piece Kelley is much more than the sum of all her parts. Piece has been writing poetry since childhood. As a teenager she began performing her work publicly, participating in Seattle’s slam scene from its beginnings. In 2000 Piece competed for a spot on the Seattle National Slam team and earned her way to the National competition 2 years in a row. In 2005, she was crowned the Seattle Grand Slam Champion.Piece has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and was cast in the production “Underground Poets Railroad”, a national tour and cinema verte style documentary by the Konwiser Brothers.

During her artistic voyage, Piece has shared the stage with some of the forefathers and mothers of spoken word as well as some of the biggest names in hiphop including: Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, The Roots, Common, Salt and Pepa, Doug E. Fresh, Zap Mama, Angela Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks and many, many more. - Seattle Poetry Slam Newsletter


"Part emcee, part activist, part poet, part teacher"

“The most unique thing about Piece is herself. Her work is as unclassifiable as my own, she is Now, we are Now,” - Saul Williams.

“Piece is the best female poet on the scene.” - The Last Poets

Part emcee, part activist, part poet, part teacher, Laura Piece Kelley is much more than the sum of all her parts. Piece has been writing poetry since childhood. As a teenager she began performing her work publicly, participating in Seattle’s slam scene from its beginnings. In 2000 Piece competed for a spot on the Seattle National Slam team and earned her way to the National competition 2 years in a row. In 2005, she was crowned the Seattle Grand Slam Champion.Piece has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and was cast in the production “Underground Poets Railroad”, a national tour and cinema verte style documentary by the Konwiser Brothers.

During her artistic voyage, Piece has shared the stage with some of the forefathers and mothers of spoken word as well as some of the biggest names in hiphop including: Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, The Roots, Common, Salt and Pepa, Doug E. Fresh, Zap Mama, Angela Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks and many, many more. - Seattle Poetry Slam Newsletter


"Piece: The Voice of Change"

Laura “Piece” Kelley is proof positive that – in the words of singer/songwriter Sam Cooke – “change is gonna come.” Youth educator, teaching artist, poet, MC, vocalist, writer, activist and mother of two, at 28, Ms. Kelley is one soulful force of nature, demonstrating that age is no barrier to changing the world.

Creating her own style of spoken word poetry, MCing and vocals, Kelley has been nationally recognized for her unique delivery and lyrical content. She integrates vintage soul and true hip-hop, and is blessed with a smooth voice. Her hard-hitting, complex lyrics are fueled by social consciousness and insight. Using metaphors of community and positive aspects of street life, she avoids explicit or graphic material.

Kelley began writing poetry in childhood. In 2000, she began competing for the Seattle Poetry Slam Team and earned her way to the National Poetry Slam competition two years in a row. Last year she was crowned the Seattle Grand Slam Champion, 2004-2006. Kelley has shared the stage with well-known masters of the spoken word, including Gil Scott Heron, Saul Williams, Angela Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks and Bobby Seale to name a few, and currently, she is a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and in the Underground Poets Railroad, a national tour and film documentary.

As an MC and vocalist, hip-hop is the backbone of her artistic style and performance. Over the years, beginning with her first performance at the Broadway Performance Hall at 14, she has “wrecked shop” with some of the best in the hip-hop family: The Roots, Les Nubians, Zap Ma Ma, Spearhead, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and many more. Kelley co-founded Jumbalaya, the celebrated (and longest running at seven years) Seattle-based improvisational music ensemble featuring the best young players from different genres.

Kelley has earned deep respect for her craft. “Her poetry cuts to the bone on social issues and she delivers it with ferocity, but it is also from the heart,” says Seattle music promoter/club owner and activist David Meinert. “Beyond all, Piece is sensitive and knowledgeable about the issues affecting her community, and she not only brings them to the surface with her poetry, but also takes action on them with her work.”

But perhaps it is as a creative writing educator and teaching artist that Kelley most stands out. Her writing workshops are dedicated to helping young people, particularly those at risk. At the 2005 Washington Cultural Congress (produced by the Washington State Arts Alliance) at Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat in Leavenworth, she reiterated the need for young people to “develop their own powerful voices as well as reclaim their own media.”

Kelley believes the recording and advertising industries have “co-opted” hip-hop, [They took] “one of our most sacred forms of youth expression in the culture, and filled it with violence, misogyny and mindless consumerism . . . The industry is trying to constantly sell their product, take over a youth culture that is celebratory. Because hip-hop is a youth-born, youth-sustained cultural art, it’s important for us to examine the messages in music. We need to be aware of how commercialization and programming influences our belief system. It is the responsibility of young people to reclaim our media.”

Arts producer and consultant Vivian Phillips has seen Kelley perform and participated in her writing workshops. “Given that I work with a lot of artists, those of the hip-hop generation are of particular interest to me and they inspire me. They have a pulse on what is going on right now and they are preserving important elements of our culture.

I can only describe Laura’s mission in the terms of how she affected me – she frees people to pull buried treasures from deep within. She’s like a raider of the lost heart. I can’t stop writing since that workshop. I’m a voracious journaler, but now I can translate my thoughts and feelings in a new profound and powerful way. She’s a griot who not only tells stories but also prods the telling of stories. She gave me the tools I needed to unlock suppressed creativity. Isn’t it wonderful when you get a gift and it’s not even your birthday? That’s what she was/is for me – a ‘Piece-ful’ gift.”

At the Cultural Congress, where Kelley presented a workshop and two keynote addresses, she was introduced by the arts commission’s Mayumi Tsutakawa as “a shining light unto herself.” She was clearly a favorite with the audience. All eyes were on this petite young woman, who barely rose above the top of the podium. Fiercely articulate, passionate and compassionate, she recited in a clear, dulcet tone. “I was refreshed, challenged and invigorated by her combination of wisdom, artistry and enthusiasm,” says WSAC staffer and Cultural Congress board member Bitsy Bidwell.

Seattle-born, Kelley is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. One of the most influential people in her life has been her grandmother Ruby Bishop, a jazz pianist who still play - Seattle Woman Magazine


"Piece: The Voice of Change"

Laura “Piece” Kelley is proof positive that – in the words of singer/songwriter Sam Cooke – “change is gonna come.” Youth educator, teaching artist, poet, MC, vocalist, writer, activist and mother of two, at 28, Ms. Kelley is one soulful force of nature, demonstrating that age is no barrier to changing the world.

Creating her own style of spoken word poetry, MCing and vocals, Kelley has been nationally recognized for her unique delivery and lyrical content. She integrates vintage soul and true hip-hop, and is blessed with a smooth voice. Her hard-hitting, complex lyrics are fueled by social consciousness and insight. Using metaphors of community and positive aspects of street life, she avoids explicit or graphic material.

Kelley began writing poetry in childhood. In 2000, she began competing for the Seattle Poetry Slam Team and earned her way to the National Poetry Slam competition two years in a row. Last year she was crowned the Seattle Grand Slam Champion, 2004-2006. Kelley has shared the stage with well-known masters of the spoken word, including Gil Scott Heron, Saul Williams, Angela Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks and Bobby Seale to name a few, and currently, she is a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and in the Underground Poets Railroad, a national tour and film documentary.

As an MC and vocalist, hip-hop is the backbone of her artistic style and performance. Over the years, beginning with her first performance at the Broadway Performance Hall at 14, she has “wrecked shop” with some of the best in the hip-hop family: The Roots, Les Nubians, Zap Ma Ma, Spearhead, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and many more. Kelley co-founded Jumbalaya, the celebrated (and longest running at seven years) Seattle-based improvisational music ensemble featuring the best young players from different genres.

Kelley has earned deep respect for her craft. “Her poetry cuts to the bone on social issues and she delivers it with ferocity, but it is also from the heart,” says Seattle music promoter/club owner and activist David Meinert. “Beyond all, Piece is sensitive and knowledgeable about the issues affecting her community, and she not only brings them to the surface with her poetry, but also takes action on them with her work.”

But perhaps it is as a creative writing educator and teaching artist that Kelley most stands out. Her writing workshops are dedicated to helping young people, particularly those at risk. At the 2005 Washington Cultural Congress (produced by the Washington State Arts Alliance) at Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat in Leavenworth, she reiterated the need for young people to “develop their own powerful voices as well as reclaim their own media.”

Kelley believes the recording and advertising industries have “co-opted” hip-hop, [They took] “one of our most sacred forms of youth expression in the culture, and filled it with violence, misogyny and mindless consumerism . . . The industry is trying to constantly sell their product, take over a youth culture that is celebratory. Because hip-hop is a youth-born, youth-sustained cultural art, it’s important for us to examine the messages in music. We need to be aware of how commercialization and programming influences our belief system. It is the responsibility of young people to reclaim our media.”

Arts producer and consultant Vivian Phillips has seen Kelley perform and participated in her writing workshops. “Given that I work with a lot of artists, those of the hip-hop generation are of particular interest to me and they inspire me. They have a pulse on what is going on right now and they are preserving important elements of our culture.

I can only describe Laura’s mission in the terms of how she affected me – she frees people to pull buried treasures from deep within. She’s like a raider of the lost heart. I can’t stop writing since that workshop. I’m a voracious journaler, but now I can translate my thoughts and feelings in a new profound and powerful way. She’s a griot who not only tells stories but also prods the telling of stories. She gave me the tools I needed to unlock suppressed creativity. Isn’t it wonderful when you get a gift and it’s not even your birthday? That’s what she was/is for me – a ‘Piece-ful’ gift.”

At the Cultural Congress, where Kelley presented a workshop and two keynote addresses, she was introduced by the arts commission’s Mayumi Tsutakawa as “a shining light unto herself.” She was clearly a favorite with the audience. All eyes were on this petite young woman, who barely rose above the top of the podium. Fiercely articulate, passionate and compassionate, she recited in a clear, dulcet tone. “I was refreshed, challenged and invigorated by her combination of wisdom, artistry and enthusiasm,” says WSAC staffer and Cultural Congress board member Bitsy Bidwell.

Seattle-born, Kelley is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. One of the most influential people in her life has been her grandmother Ruby Bishop, a jazz pianist who still play - Seattle Woman Magazine


"Sistahood Celebration"

Piece is a soul & intellect-igniting poet, emcee, producer and community activist hailing out of Seattle, WA. Her work in Spoken Word and Hip Hop both as performance and as tool for the empowerment of young people has the serious power of a dedicated genius. She is Executive Director of the Think Big Foundation, which supports learning in the areas of athletics, arts, and academics, and co-founder of Aim for Peace, which creates writing and music workshops for youth using urban arts and culture. Check her new album Street Smartz: The Story of A True School B-Girl. - Working Arts Society


"Sistahood Celebration"

Piece is a soul & intellect-igniting poet, emcee, producer and community activist hailing out of Seattle, WA. Her work in Spoken Word and Hip Hop both as performance and as tool for the empowerment of young people has the serious power of a dedicated genius. She is Executive Director of the Think Big Foundation, which supports learning in the areas of athletics, arts, and academics, and co-founder of Aim for Peace, which creates writing and music workshops for youth using urban arts and culture. Check her new album Street Smartz: The Story of A True School B-Girl. - Working Arts Society


Discography

"Street Smartz: The Story of a True School B-Girl"
The soundtrack to Piece's one woman play. Representing true Hip Hop through theater, music, spoken word, and her very own street style.
All of the tracks on the album Street Smartz were produced, arranged, composed, written and created by Piece, featuring the Queen's Ransom players.
Now available on Itunes!!!

Photos

Bio

"THE WAR IS OVER" will be one of Piece’s most influential albums. Set to be released in 2014, Spreading feel good messages of celebration, love, peace, and creativity, all supported by compositions of live, mystical, urban music. Riding the wave of her second album STREET SMARTZ, which hailed the 2008 Hollywood Music Award /Best Hip Hop Producer, Piece will once again provide a genuine reflection of the beautiful, bitter reality, of life as an artist. This teacher, artist/composer, is blending up yet another cast of musicians, artitst's, and co-producers, to make the music of the future. Her lyrics are relentless, her message is intriguing, her music is bold and innovative, yet classic and all natural. An unsung shero, and one of the industries best kept secrets is breaking the chains of silence with
THE WAR IS OVER…

THE ARTIST and PRODUCER
Laura Piece is a true baroness of Arts and Culture. An internationally recognized spoken word poet, hip hop artist, singer/ song writer, and music producer from Seattle. After earning a permanent placement in the archives of the Jimi Hendrix Experience Music Project Museum, for founding Seattle's longest running jam session "Jumbablaya", Piece produced and released "Street Smartz: The Story of a True School B-girl". Street Smartz is the soundtrack to Piece's one woman play which represents Hip Hop through theater, music, and spoken word.

THE STREET POET
Her unique delivery and lyrical content is integrated with vintage jazz and Hip Hop. Piece has been featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam and the documentary Underground Poets Railroad. She has been writing poetry and performing her work publicly since childhood in the Pike Place Market, and on into the beginning of Seattle's slam poetry movement, when she was crowned National Grand Slam Champion. Piece was also recently commissioned by the international non-profit organization, Seeds of Compassion, to write and perform a poem for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, when he visited Seattle.

EDUCATOR AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Piece recently completed serving her second, 2 year term, as a Council appointed Arts Commissioner for the City of Seattle. Piece facilitates writing and music workshops for youth, and uses the arts as a way to help them express the realities of growing up in today's society. She has developed progressive curriculum around the culture of Hip Hop and Spoken Word for hands-on intensive camps where students create, perform and record their own work. Piece frequently lectures at schools and conferences on cultural, creative, and pedagogical topics.