loft 404 in association with anitafrika dub theatre
globe trotting international dubpoet, actor, playwright, and arts educator D’BI.YOUNG celebrates jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence, with an evening of dubpoetry, theatre, and question and answer period, taking a critical look at the relationship between independence and liberation.featuring excerpts of her one womban monodramas (the sankofa trilogy and androgyne), works from her published collections of poetry (art on black and rivers), and music from her dub albums (wombanifesto and 333), D’BI.YOUNG offers us a deep look into the workings of becoming an artist from africa via jamaica and canada.most recently gracing the cover of canada’s SWAY magazine and featured on the CBC documentary about jamaica’s 50th, D’BI.YOUNG is an artist of conscience and an artist for the people. please join us!!!
venue: loft 404. the ambrosia hub. 263 adelaide street. west. 4th floor. toronto canada
proceeds go towards producing d’bi.young’s 3rd album ‘independence vs liberation’
loft404.com | anitafrika.org | dbi333.com | yemoya.org | sorplusimethod.com
Celebrated artist D’bi young shows her love of Jamaica through her creative expression
By Shannon T. Boodram
Proud. Liberated. Jamaican.
D’bi young walks up to security at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport wearing an African print dress decorated with a heavy assortment of cowry shell jewels. She stands with her two sons Moon, 8, and Phoenix, 3, as her bag passes through the X-ray screening system. The security officer eyeballs young but does not tell her to remove her shoes. Instead, he asks the question that young has always been proud to answer: “Where are you from?”
In short, the answer is Jamaica—her birthplace, her heart. At length, young will share intimate details of Jamaica’s direct connection to Africa, her motherland. And finally, she will speak with love about Canada, specifically Toronto—the place where she now lives as a full-time artist.
For this and many other reasons, including her numerous awards and impressive resumé as one of Canada’s leading playwrights, theatrical actors, educators and dub poets, young embodies everything that celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence should. “The 50th anniversary is a big deal to me,” says young as she awaits the boarding call for her direct flight to Jamaica where she will perform, speak and live for the next month. “It gives us all a chance to look at the history and ‘her-story’ of what we have accomplished since 1962. So, for me it’s a moment to pause and reflect where we are as a country, as a diaspora.”
young, who is featured in the book Jamaicans in Canada: When Ackee Meets Codfish (2012, Jamaica 50th Anniversary Committee), is executing a multi-tiered list of works in celebration of the landmark anniversary. Among these pieces are: a new album due out in November, a documentary about Jamaica 50 with the CBC, a published book for her play the sankofa trilogy due for release in September, and a DVD release along with an encore performance of the sankofa trilogy also out in September. “I am excited!” says young, “I am so excited! I created so much new work for this year. The new album was specifically dedicated to Jamaica’s independence and our journey as independent Jamaicans over the past 50 years. The album is entirely hardcore politicized dancehall and it’s titled, independence ? liberation.”
independence ? liberation is an album for her country in every sense of devotion. All proceeds will go to grassroots organizations and every dollar from every performance she makes on Jamaican soil is going to the same place. “If one is given the resources to not only survive but to thrive, they must understand that the funds they are given are coming from the community. So, one must also accept responsibility to give back,” says young. “Jamaica has given me everything I have, so at this stage in my career, I don’t want to take anything out of my country.”
young came to Canada in 1993 to study at McGill University in Montreal. It was there that she met the former lieutenant governor of Ontario Lincoln Alexander, a man whom she sources as one of many magnificent Canadian-Jamaicans she has come to know. “Lincoln Alexander gave me a scholarship so that I could study in Canada, Trey Anthony gave me an opportunity to work on ’da Kink in My Hair when I wasn’t sure if I was going to remain here, and then there is Jully Black, a woman from whom there is so much strength and courage to draw upon. These are some of the Jamaicans who I am celebrating.”
Jully Black, who worked alongside young for ’da Kink in My Hair’sfirst run at the Princess of Wales Theatre in 2005, softens at the mention of her colleague and friend’s name. “She’s so much more than an ambassador for Canadian-Jamaicans, she’s a she-ro and a true ambassador of love,” says Black.
“Alongside my mother, I often quote d’bi’s wisdom. She inspired and taught me the importance of doing the ancestors’ work.” And while Black is thrilled to hear of young’s recognition in Sway, she encourages fellow admirers to really appreciate young “for whom she is, not what she has done.”
Admittedly, it is easy to become smitten with all that young is currently doing. But her action is not meant to be a spectacle. She hopes her leadership will serve as a reminder that acknowledging 50 years of independence should have as much to do with personal accountability as it does with celebration. Says young: “This is a good time for us all to reflect on ourselves. It is beautiful to carry our tenacious, bold spirit on our shoulders but never to forget yard in our hearts. Ask the tough question: How are you affecting positive change in Jamaica?”
The fruits of young’s labour:
- For her role in ’da Kink in my Hair, young was nominated for the 2004 Dora Mavor Moore award for Best Actress. She won the 2006 Dora awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role in a Play for her play blood(claat): one oomaan story
- Among young’s other accolades are the: 2002 Art Starts Emerging Artist award, 2002 Nourbese Philip award, 2005 Harold Theatre award, 2007 NAACP Best Cast Ensemble award for ’da Kink in my Hair, 2007 RBC Toronto Arts Council Emerging Artist award, 2010 K.M. Hunter Artists award, 2011 Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Canadian Women’s Resiliency award and 2011 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Poet of Honour award.
- In 2007, young facilitated a summer dub theatre program for youth in Toronto, which led to her founding and artistic directing anitafrika! dub theatre.
- young is the curator of the Badilisha Poetry X-Change project created by the Africa Centre and artistic director of YEMOYA, an international artist-residency based in Cape Town, South Africa.