I was born and raised in Newton MA and grew up in a musical household where there was a constant connection between life, politics and music. I started playing drums at the age of eight and in high school; my friends and I formed a band that played ska music (a Jamaican genre of music that was the precursor of reggae). It was through my experience playing Jamaican music that I became interested in the intersection of music and youth movements in the Caribbean and Africa, a subject I studied as a Cultural Anthropology major at Hampshire College from 1995 - 2000. 

 

In 1999 I traveled to Senegal with a Senegalese friend of mine and discovered a young and thriving hip-hop scene there. What inspired me most about the hip-hop music made in Senegal was that it was created not just to entertain but also to educate the Senegalese public about important social and political issues. I returned to Dakar in the Summer of 2000, after studying Wolof at Columbia University and wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the intersection of Senegalese hip-hop and political change.

 

In 2000, I moved to Brooklyn and started Nomadic Wax. In its early days Nomadic Wax was a fair trade record label and Production Company that helped socially engaged hip-hop musicians promote and distribute their music internationally. In 2007, we began producing documentary film with a project titled "Democracy in Dakar" a film that documented the role of hip-hop on Senegal's 2007 election. With the "Democracy in Dakar" project, I developed an educational program and toured for three years visiting colleges, concert halls and community centers throughout the U.S, Europe and Africa with rappers featured in the film, including a fortuitous screening and discussion at CIE in 2010. 

 

Nomadic Wax's work today ranges from producing hip-hop compilations with international rappers aimed at educating listeners about issues of social importance, to setting up and running media training workshops for youth in West Africa. If you can't figure out whether Nomadic Wax is a record label, a film Production Company or an education-focused NGO - you're not alone, because I can’t either. 

 

In addition to my work with Nomadic Wax I've spent much of the past 12 years working as an educator, curriculum developer and media arts instructor in New York. Most recently, I spent a year and a half working with the International Rescue Committee on a project in Staten Island working with African and Caribbean middle school students. I developed a program that used a performing and media arts framework to promote literacy skills. 

 

I have come to CIE to be a part of a vibrant and engaged community, to learn from the experiences of both students and professors and to dive even deeper into building innovative and transformative media-based education programs. I am thrilled to be surrounded by such a talented and diverse array of students and professors from all over the world. 

 

 

Degree: 
M.Ed.
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Status: 
CIE Graduate