/Nov 2018

Paine the Poet, “Poet of the People”

Paine The Poet was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and currently resides in Washington D.C. After serving an 8-year sentence within the Virginia Department of Corrections, he began to use poetry as a method of healing. It was through this method of coping he discovered that many others have suffered similar trauma.

Using the gift of poetry, the formerly incarcerated artist articulates distinctly emotional experiences in the criminal system through crisis intervention and youth mentoring. Also, among his works, he has taught various workshops, after-school programs, and panel discussions dealing with such topics as mass incarceration, prison reform, social justice, disenfranchisement, and education.

“I speak peace but I’m still on the edge …I make sound from words that turn to art, lines spill out my head…”

—Paine the Poet

POET OF THE PEOPLE, Your Content Goes Here

Abena Koomson-Davis

Abena Koomsom-Davis is a performer, educator, and wordsmith. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and also of Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned a Masters in Education Leadership. Abena was an original cast member of the hit Broadway musical FELA!, which earned three Tony awards. She originated the role of Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti in the Off-Broadway production at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Abena plays in several notable bands, including the cappella trio Saheli, the Cool Rulers, and Van Davis, where she has been the featured vocalist for over a decade and had the honor of performing with Stevie Wonder.

Tiny Desk (NPR) Concert Submission

Abena recently became musical director of the Women’s March Resistance Revival Chorus and has been featured as part of their monthly Resistance Revival Music Series. She currently serves as Ethics Chair of the middle school division at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she teaches ethics and social justice to middle and upper school students. Abena is married to world-renowned jazz trombonist Steve Davis.

Abena’s approach to life is polyphonic. Her poem Blacksmith Orchestra is her anthem. JusticeAid is thrilled to welcome Abena at the Public Forum on Racism and the Criminalization of Poverty: 21st Century Debtors’ Prisons in the Age of Mass Incarceration, to be held on November 11th at Riverside Church in New York City. Learn about the event and please RSVP here.

The Women’s March presents The Resistance Revival Chorus

Randall Horton

Letters from the Locked Away

Randall Horton, Winner, American Book Award

Randall Horton past honors include the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature, and most recently GLCA New Writers Award for Creative Nonfiction for Hook: A Memoir, published by Augury Books/ Brooklyn Art Press. His previous work include poetry collections: The Definition of PlaceThe Lingua France of Ninth Street, both with Main Street Rag and Pitch Dark Anarchy (Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press). Horton is an Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven. He is a member of the experimental performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders which recently received the 2018 American Book Award in Oral Literature. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he now resides in East Harlem.


Dr. Michael White

Dr. Michael White (born November 29, 1954 in New Orleans) is not only a virtuoso clarinettist, but also an acclaimed musicologist, accomplished composer, veteran educator, and historian of jazz and New Orleans music. White has been at the forefront of traditional New Orleans jazz for the past 25 years. His records continually push the music forward without leaving the past behind, and his writings and tribute concerts are incisive, interesting, and inspiring.

Dr. Michael White is an accomplished, multi-faceted New Orleans-based clarinetist, bandleader, composer, musicologist, jazz historian, and educator widely regarded as one of the leading authorities and culture-bearers of traditional New Orleans jazz music. He has performed in over two dozen foreign countries, played on over 50 recordings, received countless awards, made multiple national television appearances, and been featured in major media publications.

Michael White continues an active career in a variety of capacities, and his collection of awards, accolades, and accomplishments is ever-growing. These include receiving the rank of Chevalier of Arts & Letters from the French government in 1995, being awarded the 2008 Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (the nation’s highest award in the traditional and folk arts), and being named the 2010 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year. He has been awarded Clarinetist of the Year by Offbeat Magazine in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, in addition to winning Best Traditional Jazz Artist of the Year from Gambit Magazine’s Big Easy Awards in 2010.

With a career now spanning over three decades, Michael White continues to grow his musical legacy as one of the authoritative figures on New Orleans Jazz Music, and one of the finest clarinetists to walk the streets of the crescent city.

More on Dr. White

Civil Rights Corps

Civil Rights Corps brings cutting-edge class-action litigation all over the country to challenge systemic injustice in the American legal system. They confront the money bail system and the criminalization of poverty, work to ensure that all people have access to quality defense through their Indigent Defense Initiative, and defy abuse of power by criminal prosecutors through their Prosecutor Project. Through all of their work, Civil Rights Corps aims to resensitize American society in this era of mass human caging, and seeks the creation of a legal system that promotes equality and human freedom. Civil Rights Corps has already won victories over unconstitutional bail systems in jurisdictions in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and more, as well as challenged debtors’ prisons across the South. Civil Rights Corps succeeds because of their commitment to partnering with community-based organizations in each of the localities where they take action, ensuring that local solutions take shape based on local input.

Civil Rights Corps Website

Photo banner courtesy of CRC website.


Topsy Chapman

Topsy grew up in Kentwood, Louisiana. She became partial to music at an early age due to the fact that her father was a vocal music instructor. After high school, she moved to New Orleans where she developed a gospel group, The Chapmans, which performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, for many clubs and organizations in and around the New Orleans area, and also for German radio in Cologne and Bohn Germany. She composed and arranged original material for the group.

As one of the original cast members of the of Broadway hit “One Mo’ Time,” Topsy Chapman gained national and international recognition. The show played New York’s Village Gate, London’s West End, and toured most of Europe. The cast album was nominated for a Grammy.  Topsy constructed the vocal harmony arrangements for the show.

Ms. Chapman has toured all of Europe, Asia, and Australia, including France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, England, Spain, Bermuda, the Bahamas,  Finland, Denmark, and Norway. In addition, she has traveled the Americas and Canada performing gospel, traditional and Dixieland Jazz. She has performed for the Delta Steamboat Company on their cruise lines and has toured with the Magnolia Jazz Band and the Blues Serenaders, with whom she recorded. She has also recorded with artist such as Willie Humphrey, Chester Zardis, Alvin Stardust, Geoff Bull, Louie Nelson, Fred Coleman, Orange Kellin, The New Orleans Jazz Ladies (vol. 1&2), Jeanette Kimball, Lars Edegran, Jim Cullum Jazz Band, New Orleans Rascals from Japan, and Nicholas Payton. She has performed with the most talented Butch Thompson, Dick Hyman, Herb Ellis, and Bob Haggart.

She performed for the Democratic Party, the Queen of England, and the Duke of Edinburgh and appeared on Australia’s “Midday” show. She has also appeared on several occasions on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

In addition, Topsy has appeared in publications such as Time, Ebony and Jet magazines and has received rave reviews in the New York Times, New York Post, Daily News, Variety, Times Picayune, and Lagniappe publications. She recently toured Japan with her group the Chapman Singers, currently known as Solid Harmony and John Brunious’ Jazz Band.

Ms. Chapman has charmed and endeared herself to crowds all over the world with her authentic style and clear melodious voice.  To hear her is a pure delight for people of all ages.

Topsy’s Website
Gospel and blues singer Topsy Chapman sang the unforgettable Roll Jordan Roll in the Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave.