RhapsodE
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RhapsodE

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Band R&B Spoken Word

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"Blending spoken word poetry, R&B, graceful singing with deep soul roots, and a hip hop flavor that oversees the entire sound, Minnesota's Rhapsode has laid claim to a style all her own. Literally using her voice as an instrument, the words spoken and sung here are filled with ambition, confidence, and most importantly, rhythm. Whether tip-toeing sing-song speak over a dense beat("M.E. National Bank") or slam-rapping over a beat-box backing track("I'll Admit"), the lyrics and sheer vocal prowess are mesmerizing. Sharing tales of a struggling young woman, this is far from a call for pity; Instead it focuses on the future and the bright skies that line the horizon. The resulting songs reflect the same positive outlook, expressed with brilliant wordplay straight from the dome of a talented woman who is ready to take life by the reigns and ride it out." - CD Baby



By Michael Letterlough, Jr.
photos courtesy of Erica Hawthorne

Rhapsody doesn’t look like the earthy type–barefoot and dread-
locked, wearing an adornment of thrift-store crafted jewelry made of
fishing rod string and shells. Under the fading sunlight of the evening
sky she exudes an alluring charm that doesn’t need cliché gimmicks
to emphasize her naturally chic and poetic style.

RhapsodE, who’s real name is Erica Hawthorne from Minneapolis,
MN, is part of a growing, contemporary movement that is quickly
transforming the traditional style of written poetry in to artistically
captivating live performances called, spoken word. It’s a unique
fusion of poetry and music, which RhapsodE unveils on her debut
CD entitled “Spoken Inward.”

By now the sun has completely gone down and RhapsodE, who, by
the way, is also a radio and TV co-host in Philadelphia–where she
went to school and graduated with a masters degree from Temple
University–explains that the first thing she teaches kids in her poetry
workshops is that “words have power.” Hers certainly do, as she
addresses social issues, female empowerment and, of course, love
throughout the 15 tracks on her CD.

“I recognize that whether it’s the written word, or the spoken word, or
the performed word, words have power,” she says. “Poetry has the
ability to capture stuff that’s important to people, and depending on
how it’s delivered, it has the power to make change and have an
affect on people.”

Ironically, as RhapsodE makes her way through the community inspiring and enlightening young people, teaching them how to express themselves through words and poetry,
she actually didn’t start writing poetry seriously until she was in high school.

“I was always a writer, but I read a lot when I was younger–that was a big deal to my mother. Then I started
writing short stories and drawing pictures,” she explains. “I didn’t try my hand at poetry until high school,
because you know, that’s when you start getting your first little crush and you have to express yourself, and that
for me was the best way to do it.”

But writing about boys loved and lost wasn’t always the subjects of her prose. She went through different
phases of creative growth—from her position on healing the world to, what she calls, her “protest poetry” days.
Today RhapsodE’s poetry focuses a little more on “the human condition and human emotions,” she says.

“Before we can deal with anything outside of ourselves we have to deal with the inside, and it’s how we use
words to speak to the inside. The best way for us to be able to heal is to start with ourselves and then take that
healing and spread it to others. That’s what poetry does.”

Some of her biggest influences include such famous poets as Langston Hughes (she laughs remembering
how she recited “I Too Sing America” when she was in the eighth grade), Nikki Giovani, and soul singers like
Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. “Music inspires me a lot,” says the former Minnesota Music Awards nominee. And
because of spoken word, she says she’s just gotten bold enough to actually start singing herself. “I wasn’t
doing any singing outside of my own concert shower series,” she says jokingly.

Fortunately, “Spoke Inward” captures all of her talents. “It’s a little bit of everything. I do some things acapella,
and it’s very rhythmic, very musical,” she shares. “I was very blessed to get to work with the musicians I did. And
it was very important not to just have music and have me talk over it with my poetry, but that they have a
relationship.”

As we continue talking outside under the yellow glow of the city street lamps, she explains that going so long
without using music to her poetry allowed her to stay more focused on the actual words she was delivering.
From the day she first took stage at an open mike night at the Dinky Towner on the University of Minnesota’s
campus, to opening for such artists like Jaguar Wright and Mos Def, RhapsodE–who admits some of her best
performances have been in the living rooms of people’s homes–is proving that she can certainly live up to her
name.

“Above all, I’m blessed,” she says. “I always say if I sit still long enough I can hear what God says and I can write
it down. I want to reach people who don’t read poetry or know what this is. I’m just trying to break the gate open.” - Suavv Magazine


After listening to "A Womans Voice" on ymib Radio you may have been captivated by a voice that speaks of a reality filled life blending in a sweet innocence into the stew of her flavor. Her name: Erica Hawthorne, better known as RhapsodE.

If you need to know what it would sound like if pure inspiration fell in love with hot beats and had an affair with lyrical clarity and had several mistress of rhythm, poetry, and words on the side, then just take a listen to RhapsodE's latest release "Spoke Inward". Sounding like life spoken outwardly from an inner being that obviously observes her surroundings, she speaks fully of her experiences of being a woman, in love, a daughter, and a child of the Most High just trying to become whole. She has warmed up the stage for artists alike such as Mos-Def, Fertile Ground, Quiet Rage, Tangible Truth, and many more.

The tracks on her album will keep you hyped up just waiting to hear whats next. Tracks 7, and 11, entitled "Damn" Parts 1 & 2, will be pressed for replay several times on your player before your through, and even the interlude is hot! Pick up this lady's album, because your soul needs to feel it, your mind needs to hear it and your body needs to move to it!



- Circle of Beauty Magazine


Spoken Word: Philadelphia resident, RhapsodE, is a performance artist of the highest degree transitioning effortlessly between poetry, singing, poetry, hip-hop and jazz. “Spoke Inward” hits hard as ‘Rhaps’ has a lot to say and says it with mad eloquence and style. I love the way she delivers in-your-face messages without coming off preachy or formulaic (as many of today’s spoken word artists tend to do). ‘M.E. National Bank’ gives women a guidebook in dealing with men and how far respect of self can take you. She takes it a step further on ‘Black Love’, a song so good it required a remix which is bangin’. Speaking of bangin’, I’m still noddin’ my head to the beatbox-infused rhythm of ‘I’ll Admit’. Now, my favorite song was ‘Damn - part 1’ as Rhaps paints a vivid picture of a new relationship and finding her soul mate, but then injects a mad twist at the end! Further, the ska feel of ‘The Choice’ and the African rhythms of ‘I Am’ will catch your attention and if you’re not careful you might just learn something in the process. Do yourself a favor and make time to catch her when she comes through and buy the CD ahead of time – you’ll be happy you did! (4.7 Ears out of 5.0) - DJ Random


Discography

Debut CD - "Spoke Inward" (2006)
recorded in Philadelphia, PA
Slap Studios

Featured on track "Planet Remix" (2003)
from Album: The Ledge Artist: Desdamona

upcoming projects with: Rich Tucker, Damon "Dizzy Fingers" Bennett and akaSubliminal

various tracks (The Choice, Black Love (remix), Whole Woman, Damn (part I and II), I Am, Birth of Hip Hop) played on the following internet and FM/AM radio stations:
- KFAI 90.3/106.7 FM (Minneapolis, MN)
- KMOJ 89.9FM (Minneapolis, MN)
- WHAT 1340 AM (Philadelphia, PA)
- WDAS 1480 AM (Philadelphia)
- WURD 900 AM (Philadelphia)
- WRTI 90.1 AM (Philadelphia)
- WCUR 91.7 FM (West Chester, PA)
-WBAI 99.5FM (NYC)
- www.projectvibe.net
- www.soul-sanctuaryradio.com
-www.ymib.com

Photos

Bio

“Whether tip-toeing sing-song speak over a dense beat, or slam-rapping over a beat-box backing track, the lyrics and sheer vocal prowess are mesmerizing.”
–CD Baby, 5-star rating.

RhapsodE lives up to her name by ushering in her own style of spoken soul music; a lyrical fusion of jazz, hip hop and rock served with a strong side of live music. RhapsodE is commanding listening audiences as diverse as her sound. The young and the young at heart have easily enjoyed RhapsodE’s music, at venues varying from clubs to colleges to churches, from locales around the United States as well as abroad. She has also developed a faithful online audience that rivals mainstream radio.

Nominated for a Minnesota Music Award in 2003, RhapsodE chose the road less traveled, left customary cadence behind and ventured out of the box to create a style recently captured in her debut CD project: Spoke Inward.

RhapsodE, a Kansas City native, started her spoken soul career in Minneapolis performing around the Twin Cities area. In a short time, she gained feature performances at venues such as Minnesota’s cultural haven Intermedia Arts Center and the Weisman Arts Museum. Audiences soon discovered that RhapsodE was not afraid to verbally color outside the lines and in 2003 she was the youngest and newest artist among nominees for the Minnesota Music Award in the spoken word category.

“RhapsodE, is a performance artist of the highest degree transitioning effortlessly between singing, poetry, hip-hop and jazz.” –DJ Random

In August 2003, RhapsodE moved to Philadelphia and has been keeping a whirlwind of performances under her lyrical belt featuring at local venues including the well-known Black Lily at The Five Spot, The October Gallery, The Clef Club, World Café Live and Temple University.

Her spoken soul style has been the opening for many great music acts in various genres for example in HIP-HOP - Mos Def, SOUL - Jaguar Wright, Eric Roberson and Fertile Ground, SPOKEN WORD - Talaam Acey and Black Ice, JAZZ - Byard Lancaster and Gerald Veasley, GOSPEL - Hersey Coles.

Intimate venues aside, RhapsodE took on bigger stages around the country including the Philadelphia International Arts Expo, Toronto Urban Music Festival, Minneapolis B Girl Be Festival and the Philadelphia West Oak Lane Jazz Festival. In 2006, RhapsodE joined the Philly based Spoken Soul Collective for a six-city tour along the east coast.

“If you need to know what it would sound like if pure inspiration fell in love with hot beats and had an affair with lyrical clarity and had several mistresses of rhythm, poetry, and words on the side, then just take a listen to RhapsodE's latest release ‘Spoke Inward’.” –Circle of Beauty magazine.

RhapsodE completed her debut CD Spoke Inward released June 2006. A unique project that mixes the best blend of lyrical prowess and musical giftedness. Featuring: Philly’s poet duo Quiet Rage, Toronto MC aka Subliminal and music by some of Philadelphia’s best music makers including Gabriele Guma, Damali, C-Rock and Yameen Allworld.

Spoke Inward is currently being featured on various radio and internet radio stations nationally and internationally. The album has received stellar reviews by the listening audience and is widely distributed on CD Baby and iTunes.

When not on stage RhapsodE is putting her other talents to work as co-host of an up-and-coming community news televison show on local Comcast Cable television program “Mike Robinson Presents…”

RhapsodE is currently traveling to promote her new CD as well as working on other collaborative projects.