About Sekou Sundiata

Sekou Sundiata (1948-2007) was born and raised in Harlem and spent his career working in New York City. He was internationally known as a poet who wrote for print, performance, music, and theater, and as an educator and artist-activist. He was the first writer-in-residence at The New School for Liberal Arts, where he taught from 1987 to 2007. Sundiata was a Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow, a Columbia University Revson Fellow, a master artist-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (Florida), and the recipient of a Lambent Fellowship in the Arts. He was featured in the Bill Moyers’ PBS series on poetry, The Language of Life, and as part of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO.

Sundiata wrote and performed in highly acclaimed performance works The Circle Unbroken is A Hard Bop, which toured nationally and received three AUDELCO Awards and a BESSIE Award; The Mystery of Love, commissioned and produced by Aaron Davis Hall (now Harlem Stage) in New York City and the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia; and Udu, a music theater work produced and presented by 651 ARTS, Brooklyn which toured nationally. blessing the boats, Sundiata's only solo theater piece was produced by MAPP International and opened in November 2002 at Aaron Davis Hall (now Harlem Stage). It toured through June 2007 to more than 30 cities across the U.S., Scotland and Australia. In March 2005, Sundiata produced The Gift of Life Concert, an organ donation public awareness event at the Apollo Theater that kicked off a three-week run there of blessing the boats.

Sundiata’s final work, the 51st (dream) state, premiered at Stanford Lively Arts in CA in April 2006. Produced by MAPP International, it was presented at a dozen performing arts centers and festivals including: Brooklyn Academy of Music (in association with Harlem Stage); Melbourne International Arts Festival, Australia; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and University of Texas, Austin among other venues. Sundiata passed away in July 2007 just prior to the European premiere of the work.

Sundiata released two major recordings, The Blue Oneness of Dreams (Mouth Almighty/Mercury), and its successor, longstoryshort (Righteous Babe Records). He toured internationally with his many bands including Are & Be, The Kou and dadahdoodahda. In 2001, Sundiata and his band performed in 23 cities in the United States and Canada as part of Ani DiFranco's "Rhythm and News Tour."