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When Sisters Speak 2018

sister18-2The 18th annual When Sisters Speak Spoken Word Concert takes place on Saturday, March 3rd, inside of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Witness North America’s largest and longest running showcase of Black Girl Magic through the Spoken Word.

Tickets available through Ticketmaster

Since coming into being in the fall of 1994, Up From The Roots has produced over 50 events. Here's a look at some of those events.

Just like the name implies, these shows had a balance of educational content and entertainment value. Our last Edutainment event was in 1996. Our Edutainment events featured Kevin White, Dwayne Morgan, and now, Music Director, Little X.

Strictly Roots:
This was our next series of events to develop. Strictly Roots was primarily singers, hip hop dance groups, and rappers. Strictly Roots saw performances from Monolith (Grimace Love, IRS, Daneo), Peter Miller, Jason Simmons, and Shantal from the Papichulo Crew and the G Stokes song Coco Berry. The last Strictly Roots event was in 1997.

Black Love:
Black Love soon became our most popular series of events. Here singers were back by a live band for the first time. This added a whole new dimension to our events, which is still there today. Black Love saw memorable performances by singer Kesha Wint, Black Essence, 360, 95C, the Pocket Dwellers, and Lorraine Reid. Black Love part 12 occurred in October 2001, and the series will continue in 2002.

Afri-Canadian Arts and Music Festival:
This was a one time joint production with the Fresh Arts Artistic Group, which took place in 1997. The event was held at Ontario Place, and featured performances by Puppet, Jemeni, Motion, and Kardinal Offishal.

Roots and Relaxation:
When those living in the western part of the city started asking why we weren't doing anything in the west, we answered the call with Roots and Relaxation. This was a talent explosion that featured dancehall reggae artists, singers, and rappers backed by a live band. There were three installments in this series, ending in 1998.

Breaking All the Rules:
This was Dwayne's Morgan annual one man show, which featured a cast of over twenty artists. The poetry came to life as each piece was acted out, danced to, or performed. Artists who have performed in these shows include the Do Dat Dance Agency (Now featured in many Canadian and American hip hop videos), Bag of Trix (Break Dance Champions), Kevin Ormsby (now dancing with the Garth Fagan Performing Company in New York), Tamla Matthews.

Lot 1975:
This was a play written by Weyni Mengesha, and featured many young actors and artists, including Kevin White, Kash Klay, and rapper Solitaire. Up From The Roots produced the play over two days in 1998.

And Still We Dance:
This production told the story of the Black experience primarily through dance, but with theatrical elements, including poetry, and song. Written and scripted by Tamla Matthews and Dwayne Morgan, And Still We Dance is still one of our most memorable productions.

As it's name suggests, this show blends the worlds of Jazz, spoken word, and soul into a sweet mixture of melodic perfection.

When Brothers/Sisters Speak:
In 1999, Black Love got some competition, as this annual event became our biggest seller. When Brothers Speak features poets from across the U.S., and Canada performing together in front of a sold out crowd. Poets who have performed include Taalam Acey, Faraji Salim, Tehut Nine, Ainsley Burrows, Osagyefo, Tuggstar, Kirk Nugent, and Flowmentalz. When Sisters Speak soon followed. The 2001 edition of When Brothers Speak drew over 500 people to Flava City in downtown Toronto to witness the event.

Talking Aloud:
Each Talking Aloud show has taken place at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. There have been three shows to date, and like When Brothers Speak, it features poets from the U.S. and Canada. Talking Aloud events have featured Aishah Bradley and Jamaal St. John.

The Roots Lounge:
Started in January of 2000, the Roots Lounge was our open mic and slam. It occurred once monthly, but started to fizzle out towards the end of the year. After a long hiatus, the Roots Lounge returned this October in a new location. Once a month we gather inside of A Different Booklist (746 Bathurst St.) for the Roots Lounge.

American Invasion:
The American Invasion Poetry Concert featured a line up of American poets who came to Toronto for the show. Featured in the event were Blackout Boston, Mandingo, and Jamaal St. John.

This Ain't Love Jones:
This Ain't Love Jones broke the myth as to what a poetry show is all about. we made sure that it was nothing like the movie, but instead just raw poetry with no gimmicks. Our featured artist for the night was Tehut-Nine.

The Last One Standing:
This is a slam competition where after each round, the poet with the lowest score is dropped from the competition, until there is only one poet left. There have been four such shows, and there has yet to be a repeat winner.

Toronto International Poetry Slam (TIPS):
Started in 2003, this competition puts spoken word artists from across North America and Europe against one another for $1000 US in cash. TIPS is a part of the Toronto Urban Music Festival and will take place each Labour Day weekend.

The Soul Slam:
Based on the same format as the traditional poetry slam, the SoulSlam features soul singers competing against one another for a cash prize.

Spoken Wordz:
Produced in association with Jah Entertainment, Spoken Wordz is a fusion of Stand up comedy and spoken word poetry. The first Spoken Wordz show was headlined by Shang out of Los Angeles.

Soul Sessions:
A live show where we pay tribute to musical greats. Thus far we have paid tribute to Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross.

Our Hedonism shows are an exploration of sexuality and sensuality where just about anything goes!