Otis O'Solomon

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Otis O'Solomon is an American poet and original member of the Watts Prophets, a pioneering trio of poets that emerged from the Watts Writers Workshop in the wake of the Watts Riots, often cited as forerunners of contemporary hip hop music. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

O'Solomon has served as the minority representative for the Writers Guild of America (West), as well as the Master Poet teacher for St. Paul's Council of Arts and Sciences Program. He also spent several years as the Urban Coordinator of California's Poetry In The Schools Program (Los Angeles), and was the Poetry Creative Writing Instructor and Motivator for the Watts Writer's Workshop for several years.


O'Solomon claims to be a poet at birth. He was born and raised in Alabama, where first starting writing poetry. By the height of the civil rights movement, O'Solomon had made his way to Los Angeles. As a young black man experiencing the tumult of the Watts Riots, he joined the Watts Writers Workshop as a constructive outlet for the inner turmoil he felt. It was here that O'Solomon met Richard Dedeaux and Amde Hamilton, the fellow members of what would come to be the Watts Prophets.

With the Watts Prophets, O'Solomon created a rapid-fire spoken-word sound that delivered hard-hitting social commentary on the racially charged atmosphere of the time, working with such luminaries in the music industry as Quincy Jones and Bob Marley. Marley's son, Ziggy Marley, would later record O'Solomon's poem "Hey World!" to much acclaim. In addition to their albums The Black Voices: On the Streets in Watts (1969) and Rappin' Black in a White World (1971), O'Solomon and the Watts Prophets also published two books of original poetry, The Rising Sons of Wisdom & Knowledge (1973) and Poetic Reflections (1976).

During the 80's, O'Solomon started Artistic Heart Music Publishing and Production Company, under which he published a series of poems known as Poster Poems. The series included "(P.S.I.) Positive Self Image," "Music," and cards with inspirational messages. The line now includes "The Business Prayer," the complete "Honesty" series, and "How to Overcome Challenges." Through his production company, O'Solomon also produced a series of poetry concerts and staged a variety of solo performances.

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, O'Solomon and The Watts Prophets continued to perform together and, in 1997, they released their latest CD on Polygram Records titled When the 90's Came. During this time, O'Solomon's poetry was also featured in the John Singleton 1995 film Higher Learning.

In 2002, O'Solomon published an original book of poetry titled Wake Up World. In recent years, he has collaborated with the Los Angeles Black Business Expo and Trade Show to present the Poetry Cafe, an event of continuous poetry, from opening until closing, every day of the expo. O'Solomon continues to work in the community, continues to write and continues to perform his work both as a solo artist and with the Watts Prophets. He is currently working on a CD of spoken word and jazzy beats to be released in 2009.

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