THE STRIVER’S ROW,an Artist Management Agency that represents a group of performing artists consisting of poets and musicians who i am not afraid to say are the best thing my brain and ears have danced and pondered to in a very hot minute.Why do I tag this group of gifted individuals the new pillars of hope? because they are me,young individuals who push through more than what their skin or environment has laid down for them. In a time where role models are falling shorter than Joe Pesci picking up cereal grains from the kitchen floor, this group of talents stand tall. I initially discovered the striver’s row collective through the work of Joshua Bennett and the chance discovery of jennah bell on YouTube, “Balaenoptera and ‘’YES, THIS IS A HOLD UP’’ respectively . The work of these performing artist spreads across topics that touch every corner of a room no matter where you stand.The group which consist of poet Jasmine Mans, Joshua Bennett, Alysia Harris, Miles Hodges, Carvens Lissaint, Zora Howard and singer Jennah Bell fuse spoken word with music mostly sang by Jennah Bell. In an era of “lets have fun” music where reality is mostly painted with choruses filled with sex, drugs, violent references, this group of God given talents are certainly a breeze of hope. Say hello
At 20 years old, Jasmine Mans is the youngest artist on The Strivers Row roster. Jasmine gained media buzz for her thought provoking piece about rapper Nicki Minaj,“The Mis-Education of Barbie”. She has opened for Grammy winning artist Janelle Monae, appeared on The Mo’Nique show and on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater. She recently won the title of Rugby’s Next Great Poet. Joshua Bennett whom I featured here previously is an award winning performance poet from Yonkers, NY. He has recited his original works at events and venues such as The Sundance Film Festival, The NAACP Image Awards and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Joshua graduated with the distinctions of Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, after double majoring in English and Africana Studies. In addition to academic success Joshua has been featured in ad campaigns, such as Reebok Classics WeRClassic magazine launch,Black Atlas and Ralph Lauren’s Rugby brand. Joshua thanks God for his gift, and is grateful for the opportunity to inspire others. Miles Hodges is a 21 year old artist from New York City by way of Teaneck, NJ. A former Youth Slam Poet Champion, Miles was profiled in the 2008 Russell Simmons HBO Documentary “Brave New Voices”, and has since grown to grace the stage with the likes of Amiri Baraka, Saul Williams, and Sonia Sanchez. His work has been added to writing curricula throughout academia and accessed by more than a million viewers online. Miles continues to share his art at colleges and universities across the globe. Miles is a brother, a son, a grandson, and currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He says he plans to keep creating best he can, and that for whatever his future might hold he just hopes it includes a good cup of coffee and some James Baldwin.
Alysia Harris is a heliotrope. She follows the Son. Currently a graduate student at Yale University pursuing a PhD in linguistics , she studies semantic change and aspectual shift in African American English and the genetic relationships between Semitic language. Though intrigued by the scientific study of language as a linguist, as a poet she uses it as a creative probe to explore the emotional, spiritual, and relational realms of the human experience. Alysia is most passionate about God, love, and poetry. Her biggest loves in life are spontaneous group dance sessions, Hemingway, and clean endings. When not studying or writing, Alysia can be found dancing, Facebook stalking, crying over heartbreak, talking about theology, eating CLIF bars and hanging out in the deserts of the Middle East. She hopes in the future, after obtaining her PhD in linguistics, to get an MFA in creative writing and move to the North Africa to start a number creative writing programs in the region. Carvens Lissaint is a Haitian American award winning performance artist who has been gracing stages across the United States since the age of 16. He has performed on Broadway at The New Amsterdam Theater, and Off Broadway at the Ohio Theater performing his one man show entitled “Walk”. He is the author of “The Inspiration, From: Heart To: Page” under PENMANSHIP BOOKS publishing company. A senior at The American Academy For Dramatic Arts receiving his degree in Acting this upcoming spring, and will be attending St. Johns University this upcoming fall Majoring in Dramatic Arts and Minoring in Music. Happy to be spreading the word and the will of God.
A hippie at heart, Bell’s music emanates warmth, honest emotion and imagination. Combining Alanis Morissette’s melancholy vocal hues, Tim Burton’s fantastical darkness and Dr. Seuss’ childlike brilliance, Bell is fashioning an experimental lo-fi soul sound all her own and is solely responsible for my discovery of the row. Hailing from the Bay Area of Northern California, Jennah began learning to play the piano, followed by the flute, had a brief stint with the drums, and finally found her muse in the guitar. Through a competitive audition process, Jennah was chosen to attend the Grammy foundation’s summer program. She landed a coveted spot as one of only eleven singer/songwriters from around the U.S. Her peers and music business professionals (Paul Williams, Jimmy Jam, INXS) embraced her unorthodox writing style, melodies, and endearing honest vocals. This gave her the courage and motivation she needed to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Jennah was recently featured on Jay-Z’s blog Life +Times who praised her songwriting and skilled eclecticism, a hallmark of Jennah’s creed. Perhaps that’s why her music is ferocious, in a quirky, humble way. Her debut EP, Early Bird, deftly alternates influences derived from Bluegrass, Dub, Rock, Funk, and even a bit of Hip-Hop. Jennah’s a whiz with her acoustic guitar, and even unplugged, has the capacity to move audiences to tears.
Zora Howard is a Harlem raised writer, spoken word artist, actress, and activist. Learning the balance of writing for personal expression and performing for a theatre audience, she found spoken word at the age of thirteen. She began slamming the same year and won the Urban Word NYC Grand Slam finals, the youngest poet ever to do so. She competed and placed second in the nation with the New York slam team at the Brave New Voices National Youth Slam in 2006 and went on to co-coach the team on which she found her start in 2007 and 2008. In 2008, she placed first at the New York Knicks Poetry Slam and was featured in a documentary about the process that aired on MSG. Her work with filmmaker Lisa Russell on the short film “Biracial Hair”, based on her original poem of the same title, won an Emmy for Outstanding Advanced Media Interactivity in 2009. She is currently studying comparative literature at Yale University. Photos by Mr. Wagner , Additional info coutsesy of striver’s row manangement