Toni Blackman is an international champion of hip-hop culture, known for the irresistible, contagious energy of her performances and for her alluring female presence. She’s all heart, all rhythm, all song, all power, a one-woman revolution of poetry and microphone. An award-winning artist, her steadfast work and commitment to hip-hop led the U.S. Department of State to select her to work as the first ever hip-hop artist to work as an American Cultural Specialist. She has already served in Senegal, Ghana, Botswana, and Swaziland where her residencies include performance, workshops, and lectures on hip hop music and culture. She recently toured Southeast Asia with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Musical Ambassador program and has shared the stage with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, Wu Tang Clan, GURU, Bahamadia, Boot Camp Clic, Me’Shell NdegeoCello, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Jill Sobule and even Rickie Lee Jones. Her first book, Inner-Course was released in 2003 (Villard/Random House). Toni has performed in Eve Ensler’s V-Day Festival, the DODGE Poetry Festival, in Spain at the Barcelona World Social Forum, featured in the CUTTING EDGE Festival in Darmstadt, Germany, featured at SENERAP International Hip Hop Festival in Dakar and toured South Africa as a headliner on the URBAN VOICES Festival alongside the legendary Linton Kwesi Johnson. Toni has collaborated with a host of highly esteemed musicians including Craig Harris, James “Blood” Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Jay Rodriguez and master kora players Papa Susso and Yacouba. She continues to work with artists from around the world.
Using the knowledge gained from twenty years of hosting Cyphers, Hip Hop Ambassador and MC Toni Blackman partnered with 651 ARTS to bring The Cypher Summit to life. From intergenerational pre-summit dialogues, to an exciting conversation with Diggin' in the Crates Crew founding member Diamond D, to a workshop with renowned vocalist Jeremiah Abiah, to a classic vibe session, this gathering provided a platform for the Hip Hop community to flow, freestyle and define itself.