WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Video of the Week: Yolanda Wisher and the Afroeaters
February 17, 2020. Philadelphia-based poet, singer, educator and spoken-word curator Yolanda Wisher performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band, the Afroeaters.
So, it's no surprise that the lives and voices of earlier wordsmiths of African descent have inspired her quarterly Rent Party series at The Rosenbach near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.
The series is presented in the tradition of Harlem Renaissance events where literary artists and musicians raised necessary funds by hosting regular communal gatherings. Likewise, Yolanda celebrates the literary past by delivering syncopated readings along with music performed by bassist Mark Palacio, drummer Lance Gamble, pianist V. Shayne Frederick and trumpeter Paul Giess.
"The seeds for this session were planted over 20 years," recalls WRTI Jazz Host and Live Sessions Executive Producer J. Michael Harrison. "Yolanda Wisher was a graduate student attending Temple University and an up-and-coming talented poet on the Philadelphia scene. One visit to my Friday night radio program on WRTI, The Bridge, made that quite evident."
"Her extraordinary gifts have been consistently on display over the years and her triumphs have been plentiful as well. Witnessing Yolanda's journey has truly been a pleasure. I offer my deepest respect and appreciation for her career to date and feel privileged to have the honor of sharing this video with the WRTI audience."
Named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016, Yolanda is also the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013). Yolanda and The Afroeaters have led workshops and curated events in partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the U.S. Department of Arts & Culture.