Voza Rivers

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Voza Rivers is a leading African-American theater, music, and events producer and documentary filmmaker, born in Harlem, New York.

Rivers is the Executive Producer and founding member of the New Heritage Theatre Group (established in 1964) and Executive Producer and Co-Founder of IMPACT Repertory Theatre, the Oscar-nominated youth division of New Heritage Theatre Group led by U.S. director, activist and educator Jamal Joseph.[1] He has produced and co-produced theater, music, and television projects, film festivals, and music tributes in the United States, Japan, South Africa, and the UK including producing Mbongeni Ngema's Tony- and Grammy-nominated South African plays Asinimali! (1987) and Sarafina!(1988).[2] The series of groundbreaking South African plays produced by Rivers and the New Heritage Theatre Group in the 1980s educated Harlemites about the apartheid struggle.[3] Films produced by Rivers include A-Alike (2003), Lifted (2007) and The Savoy King: Chick Webb & the Music That Changed America (2012).

As a music producer Rivers has produced music events and concerts featuring world-renowned artists in the United States, South Africa and Japan.A partial listing of artists Rivers has produced for includes: Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Ruby Dee, Luther Vandross, James Brown, The Count Basie Orchestra, Ray Charles, Ashford and Simpson, Boy George, George Benson, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Isaac Hayes, Little Jimmy Scott, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, and Chaka Khan.[4]

Voza Rivers is the First Vice President of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, and the Executive Producer of "HARLEM WEEK" which began in 1974 as a one-day tribute to Harlem and has evolved over 40 years into a month-long celebration of the community's economic, political and cultural history attracting over 2 million attendees from all over the world.[5] As of June 2015, Rivers also serves as the executive producer of Gertrude Jeannette's The H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players.

In popular culture[edit]

On October 20, 2015 Voza Rivers along with the Congressman Charles Rangel announced October 20 as Lupita Nyong'o Day in Harlem, NY after Nyong'o visited to take part in an event produced by Rivers which was an open discussion between Nyong'o and image Activist Michaela Angela Davis at MIST Harlem[6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 1984: Black Personality of the Month Voza Rivers, Anheuser-Busch/ Black American
  • 1988: United Nations Medal for Peace for "Sarafina!"
  • 1988: FEDAPT Award for GRAMMY and TONY nominated SARAFINA!, League of American Theatres and Producers
  • 1988: St. George Associations Art and Culture Award for SARAFINA!, St. George Association
  • 1989: 1989 Grammy Nomination for the "Sarafina!" Cast Album
  • 1991: N Y 1 Television "New Yorker of the Week", NY 1 Television
  • 1996: Ruth Whitehead Whaley Award, Association of Black Women Attorneys for Community Service
  • 1998: Harlem Jazz & Music Festival Tiffany Award, Harlem Jazz and Music Festival
  • 1999: WHO'S WHO of Professionals Honoree
  • 2000: AUDELCO Outstanding Pioneer Award in Theater, Audience Development Committee, Inc
  • 2000: New York Foundation for the Arts Union Square Award, New York Foundation of the Arts
  • 2001: Culture Fest Theatre Award, Your Culture Counts: Voza Rivers, Culture Fest
  • 2001: William Jefferson Clinton Salute to IMPACT Repertory Theatre
  • 2001: Forces of Nature NIA Award
  • 2001: John Hunter Memorial Humanitarian Award
  • 2002: Harlem Health Community Service Award, Harlem Hospital Center
  • 2002: Omega Psi Phi, Xi Phi chapter "Citizen of the Year" Award
  • 2002: Kwanzaa Foundation Nguzo Saba Award for Creativity
  • 2002: National Conference of Artists NCA NY Chapter Leadership Award
  • 2003: Outstanding Achievement and Stalwart Commitment to the Arts, Delta Sigma Theta sorority
  • 2003: Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the Samaritan Foundation
  • 2003: HARLEM WEEK Kick Off Special Award, presented by Mayor Mike Bloomberg
  • 2005: Arts Organizing Award, National Conference of Artists
  • 2005: I AM Award, Oliver Black Production in Association with IAM and the Harlem Arts Alliance
  • 2005: Black History Makers Arts Organizing Award, The National Conference of Artists New York
  • 2006: Ellie Charles Award, African Voices Magazine
  • 2006: Community Service Award, Harlem Business Alliance
  • 2006: Vanguard Award, Black To Broadway
  • 2006: Star Achiever Award, United Negro College Fund
  • 2006: “The VIV” to IMPACT Repertory Theatre at the 35th Annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards
  • 2007: Peace Award, Kobe International Harmony Eyes Festival
  • 2007: Larry Leopn Hamlin Producers Award, National Black Theatre Festival
  • 2008: Distinguished Community Service Award, E.Louise Richardson
  • 2008: Mind Builders Creative Arts Center Cultural Legacy Award, Mind Builders Creative Arts Center
  • 2009: One of the Most Influential New Yorkers in Arts and Culture, New York Daily News
  • 2009: Cover Story, Black Masks Magazin'
  • 2009: 45th Anniversary of NHTG Salute: Voza Rivers, Community Works and the DWYER Cultural Center
  • 2012: The New York Coalition of Black Women Honor the Life ond Accomplishments of Voza Rivers, The New York Coalition of Black Women
  • 2012: Talladega College Alumni Association of Greater New York Honors Voza Rivers, College Alumni Association of Greater New York
  • 2012: Leadership Award, The Children's Storefront Independent School in Harlem
  • 2012: Mother Dovetta Wilson Leadership Award, The City of New York Office of the President Borough of Manhattan Scott M. Springer
  • 2013: Roy Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award, NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch
  • 2013: Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented by Honorable Charles B. Rangel, Member of Congress
  • 2014: Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce on 40th Anniversary of HARLEM WEEK Award, Jazzmobile
  • 2014: Winona Lee Fletcher Award, Black Theatre Network
  • 2014: Honorable Charles B. Rangel of New York Congress Recognizes New Federal Theatre's 44th Anniversary Gala Honoring Legendary Producer Voza Rivers and New Heritage Theatre Group, Honorable Charles B. Rangel
  • 2014: Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust Award, Honoring the Harlem Shakespeare Festival
  • 2015: Trailblazer Award Presented to New Heritage Theatre Group, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement


  1. ^ Ravosa, Gina. "Voza Rivers Selected as First Artist in Residence at The New York Academy of Medicine". The New York Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  2. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (15 April 1987). "For Asinimali!' Backers More Than Just A Play". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. ^ Wright, Peter (9 October 2014). "Apollo Theater's festival highlights Harlem's South African connection". NY Daily News. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Voza Rivers". Circle of Sisters. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  5. ^ Barker, Cyril Josh (27 February 2014). "A Standing Ovation for Voza Rivers". New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  6. ^ Workneh, Lily (21 October 2015). "Harlem Dedicated a Whole Day to the Glorious Lupita Nyong'o" (Huff Post Black Voices). The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 November 2015.