In the Fall of 2007, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian Magazine after being named one of America’s Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. He is the artistic director of the 7-part HBO documentary “Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices” and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. He has entered the world of literary performance after crossing the sands of “traditional” theater, most notably on Broadway in the Tony Award winning The Tap Dance Kid and Stand-Up Tragedy.
His evening-length works have been presented throughout the United States and Europe and include Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, De/Cipher and No Man’s Land. Bamuthi’s current solo piece, the break/s, co-premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and the Walker Arts Center in the Spring of 2008. His work has been enabled by several prestigious foundation awards including grants from the Ford Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, Creative Capital, the National Performance Network Creation Fund, the Wallace A. Gerbode Foundation, the Creative Work Fund, the Rockefeller MAP Fund, the NEA, the Hewlett Foundation, and a Dance Advance award from the PEW Foundation.
A gifted and nationally acclaimed educator and essayist, he has lectured at more than 200 colleges and universities, been a popular commentator on National Public Radio, and has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Mills College, and the University of Wisconsin. A resident at ODC Theater, YBCA, and Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, Bamuthi’s proudest work has been with Youth Speaks where he mentors 13-19 year old writers and curates the Living Word Festival for Literary Arts. Mr. Joseph’s next project, red black and green: a blues performatively documents the eco-equity movement towards green collar jobs in Black neighborhoods. He proudly served as a featured artist for the NAACP’s Centennial Anniversary Celebration during President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Exercises.
Bamuthi’s performance schedule has carried him from dance apprenticeships in Senegal to teaching fellowships in Bosnia. Over the next two years, he will develop new projects with le Centre Nationale de Dance, the National Dance Project and the International Theater Institute to be performed in France, Kinshasa, Germany, and the Philippines. His proudest work has been with Youth Speaks where he mentors 13-19 year old writers and curates the Living Word Festival for Literary Arts. His recently completed project, Scourge, reflects on the plight of Haiti in the post-colonial New World, and was developed while Bamuthi was a Phillis Wattis Artist-in-Residence at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Collaborators for Scourge include renowned choreographer Rennie Harris, Grammy nominated composer John Santos, dramaturg Roberta Uno, and director Kamilah Forbes of the NYC Hip Hop Theater Festival.
After selling out the entire run of the world premiere, the San Francisco Chronicle exclaimed Scourge to be “a work overflowing with talent and ambition.” The Contra Costa Times declared “Scourge is clearly a work of intelligence and careful craftsmanship, unafraid to ask some big questions and leave them unanswered, and that alone puts Joseph at the head of the pack of not just hip-hop theater auteurs, but modern choreographers, too.”
Since beginning a career in performance poetry in the Fall of 1998, Bamuthi has been San Francisco’s Poetry Grand Slam winner three times, won the 1999 National Poetry Slam with Team San Francisco, and founded “Second Sundays”, the nation’s first monthly spoken word gathering to generate audiences of 500+.
He has done several performances with the current stars of the Spoken Word and music scene including: Ben Harper, De La Soul, The Roots, Bonnie Raitt, Kanye West, Saul Williams, Cody Chestnutt, Beau Sia, Blackalicious, Will Power, Jill Scott, Mos Def, Sarah Jones, Sonia Sanchez, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Roger Bonair-Agard, Ishle Yi Park, Danny Hoch and many others. In addition, he’s released a spoken word CD, “Seeking” worked with Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn for MTV, and performs on the CD “185 Progress Drive” (Alternative Tentacles Records: 2000) with Assata Shakur, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Bob Marley, Michael Franti, I was Born with Two Tongues and other hip hop and spoken word artists.
a few downloads…
- Stepping Up, Smithsonian Magazine, October 2007 PDF
- Star Tribune review of the break/s PDF
- the break/s press kit PDF
- Dramatics Magazine article PDF
a few links…
- Bamuthi on myspace
- Youth Speaks website
- Z Space website
- Bamuthi as UW Artist in Residence
- Bamuthi on YouTube
- BLOG: the break/s beyond the ballot
- KQED Spark Profile
- Can’t Stop Won’t Stop blog
- SF Gate Review of the break/s
- Voice of Dance Review of the break/s
- John Stoehr blog response to the break/s
- TC Daily Planet Review
- The Daily Californian Review
- Washington Post review of the break/s
- LIFE is LIVING website
- break/s beyond the ballot on NYTimes blog