Toni Blackman

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Toni Blackman
Also known as Miss Blackman, T-lala, Virgo One
Born Pittsburg, California, U.S.
Origin San Francisco Bay Area, California
Genres Hip hop, hip hop soul, global hip hop, spoken word
Occupations Rapper, lyricist, MC, freestyle MC, songwriter, record producer, poet, educator, actress, author
Years active 1994–present
Associated acts Freestyle Union, Daughters of the Cipher, Hip Hop Arts Movement (HHAM), Earthdriver

Toni Blackman[1] is an American rapper, actress, writer and State Department musical ambassador.[2][3][4]

Life and career[edit]

The first Hip Hop Cultural Envoy to travel with the State Department, Blackman served in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Botswana and Swaziland where she also delivered lectures on hip hop music and culture.[5] Toni has also traveled throughout Europe, Angola, Brazil, Canada and toured Southeast Asia (the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan) as a part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rhythm Road Abroad program, working in the world's most war-torn countries to promote reconciliation and rehabilitation to those regions.[6]

Blackman was founding director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop which uses a free styling as a tool to promote social responsibility, was awarded two prestigious fellowships. Blackman served as a fellow with the Echoing Green Foundation and as a fellow with the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) through which she launched Rhyme Like A Girl formerly known as ADI. A Hip hop theater pioneer, she founded the now defunct Hip Hop Arts Movement (HHAM) while at Howard University in 1992. She has featured in the Hip Hop Theater Festival and she co-authored Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown with Psalmayene 24 as an ACT-Co presentation at ARENA Stage in Washington, DC. she is also a member of the Spoken Word Committee of the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy.[5]

Blackman has performed alongside Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Guru, The Roots, Wu Tang, the Lilith Fair, Def Poetry.[3] She performed in a host of venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and at Lincoln Center in New York.

In 2009, Blackman spoke at the Pio Manzu International Conference in Rimini, Italy, and in 2010 facilitated a groundbreaking artist residency at Jefferson Arts Center with girls from Liberia, Sudan, Somalia and the U.S., spoke at Harvard University as a part of Bakari Kitwana's Rap Sessions Series collaborated on and performed a song along with Azerbaijani rap group Dayirman, dedicated to victims of Khojaly Massacre[7][8]