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Ursula Rucker

Author's Bio

As a poet and performance artist, Ursula Rucker has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals, and accessible poetic verse. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she began documenting her observations of the world when she was just a girl. After graduating from Temple Universityʼs journalism program and a stint at The Painted Bride Art Center, Ursula made her debut in 1994 at Philadelphiaʼs famed jazz venue, Zanzibar Blue. Producer King Britt invited her to create her first recording, the 1994 single, “Supernatural” (Ovum/Slip N Slide UK). Critics have compared Ursula to Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni. Coincidentally, when Shange was unable to provide The Roots with a spoken word contribution for their debut album Do You Want More?!!?!! (Geffen, 1994), they called on her to fit the bill. “The Unlocking”, which closed the album, introduced Ursula to the world of progressive hip-hop and led to subsequent invitations to close The Roots follow-up albums Iladelph Halflife (Geffen, 1996) and Things Fall Apart (MCA, 1999). To date, Ursula has performed her work at an array of venues, universities, and festivals including Montreaux Jazz Festival, Winter Music Conference, Theater of the Living Arts, Painted Bride Art Center, World Café Live, and Drexel University. Ursula has toured with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, SYLK130, and 4HERO in the United States and Europe. In 2001, her !K7 debut Supa Sista introduced Ursula as a solo artist with a strong lyrical voice. Her 2003 release, Silver and Lead further extended her exploration of self, race and femininity. With maat mama (!K7, 2006) Ursula once again showed a new level of maturity in her writing. Ursulaʼs most recent release, Ruckus Soundsysdom, executive produced by King Britt for his FiveSixMedia imprint, takes listeners on a journey into her various sonic influences. Producers include King, Dego (4Hero), Rich Medina, Fish Eye, RucylTim Motzer, and others. A proud mother of four, Ursula currently lives in northwest Philadelphia.

Publications and Prizes

Northampton Community College - Bethlehem, PA (2009), Penn State Harrisburg - Pennsylvania (2009), Sweeney Gallery , University of California Riverside - California (2009), Bohemian Caverns - Washington, DC (2008), Kelly-Strayhorn Theater - Pittsburgh, PA (2008), Philadelphia Folk Festival - Schwenksville, PA (2008), World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, PA (2008)
She recently received a grant from the Leeway Foundation to complete an epic poem for a collaboration with Pullitzer-prize winning photographer Clarence Williams. Rucker is also a 2008 recipient of the Leeway Transformation Award, which is given to artists in the Philadelphia region who have been engaged in art for social change for give years or more.

Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Listing last updated: May 13, 2009

More Information

Listed as:
Spoken Word Artist
Gives readings?
Travels for readings?
Identifies as:
African American, Italian American
Prefers to work with:
Fluent in:
Born in:
Philadelphia, PA
Raised in:
Philadelphia, PA

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