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Ursula Rucker    

Spoken Word Artist

Poet, performance and recording artist, Ursula Rucker is recognized as one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry today. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rucker began documenting her observations of the world when she was just a girl.

A graduate of Temple University's journalism program, she kept her creative writing as a prized, personal possession until she was prepared to share her gift with the world. In 1994, Rucker introduced an open-mic night audience at Philadelphia's Zanzibar Blue to the beauty and urgency of her poetry.

Word quickly spread throughout Philadelphia of her verse and stage performance, which has been described as "strong, vulnerable, wounded and raging." Producer King Britt was quick to recognize Rucker's talent and invited her to create her first recording, the 1994 club classic, "Supernatural" (Ovum/Slip N Slide UK). According to Britt, while the original and remixes of "Supernatural" were celebrated in clubs all over the globe, the most popular version remains the a capella.

Critics were quick to compare Rucker to celebrated writers like Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni. Coincidentally, when Ntozke Shange was unable to provide The Roots with a contribution to their debut album, "do you want more?!!?!!" (Geffen, 1994), they called on Rucker to fit the bill. "The Unlocking," which closed "do you want more?!!?!!," introduced Rucker 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).

The alluring tales Rucker creates for The Roots contain subject matter that is motivated by genuine concern and heightened consciousness. Whether exploring sexual exploitation as in "The Unlocking" or introducing the lifestyle of a crack-dealing single mother in "Adventures in Wonderland," she provides listeners with an intimate glimpse of urban reality. Rucker's most recent work illustrates her growth as an artist and her ability to transcend the bounds of traditional spoken work recordings. The mermaid-fantasy drive "Circe" from Guidance Recordings' spoken work compilation Urban Renewal is demonstrative of her talent as a storyteller and chanteuse. "SOON," which is featured on Unbound, is an unsettling portrait of slavery in the United States.

With her multifaceted career in full swing, 2001 will be full of activity. In the coming months Rucker plans to finish recording for her first album "SUPA SISTA," complete a collection of poems for publication and, has work forthcoming in "Harvard Advocate." In addition to recording, public performance and writing, Rucker will also provide narration for the stunning feature length documentary "VOODOO" directed by award winning photo journalist Alberto Venzago.


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Speech Topics

The Truth is Spoken Here

African American Women in Hip-Hop Today

Children, Youth and the Hip-Hop Nation

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