About Miss Blackman

This blog  is where I share notes about my journey—the professional and the personal, the travels and the people, renaissance woman the spiritual, the creative and whatever comes to mind…if you need a little more info, my bio is below:

Toni Blackman is a cultural ambassador and an advocate of improvisation. Her experiences as a diplomatic worker enable her to move through various communities (the arts, political circles, international gatherings, youth groups, academia, and the music industry) with ease. As America’s first Hip-Hop Ambassador, her work has consistently communicated that hip hop is the international platform to position the US as a good global citizen. DOVE selected her as a DOVE Real Woman in 2012 and honored her groundbreaking work. Blackman was on assignment in Turkey last May and currently works as a teaching artist mentoring/coaching teens at Carnegie Hall. She recently spoke to 900 employees at Hallmark Corporation in Kansas City, MO and will lead her first master class at the legendary Apollo Theater this fall.

Evidence of the ways that Toni’s work consistently challenges our ideas and perceptions of Hip Hop can be seen via her Meditation Mixtape Series which blends hip-hop and meditation concepts, the Lyrical Debate which she recently co-produced with the City Lore Foundation for the 2016 Presidential election and the Lyrical Meditation Workshop event she is presenting at Dixon Place.

Blackman has traveled and worked in 42 different countries including Senegal, Turkey, Ghana, Taiwan, Botswana, Norway, Swaziland, Ivory Coast, the DRC, Brazil, South Africa, Angola, and a host of places in Europe. Her diplomatic work encompasses peace and reconciliation, literacy, HIV awareness, and gender violence prevention. Highly respected as the founder and director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop that uses free styling as a tool to encourage social responsibility, Blackman’s work has held great influence in the world of hip-hop activism. This former Echoing Green Fellow has also been a fellow with the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute. A great deal of Blackman’s creative organizing efforts involved the Freestyle Union and its woman centric initiative Rhyme Like a Girl, which launched in partnership with Girls, Inc., and later partnered with the New School University.

Toni Blackman has transformed her passion for creativity and improvisation into a powerful presentation on “getting open,” being centered, and harnessing one’s own personal power from the inside out. She has performed and spoken at the Aspen Institute Summit in Oman, at the prestigious Pio Manzu International Conference in Italy, during the World Cup at the ManUp Summit in South Africa, and for the FORD Foundation and City Xpo Big Ideas Conference in Virginia. She has led workshops and trainings for the NBA, Craigslist Foundation events, Julliard, Ross School of Business-UM, Smithsonian Museum, Harvard, Girl Scouts “Beyond Bars” program for incarcerated mothers, Latin American Youth Center’s Gang Violence Prevention, MDGFive UN program for Maternal Health, and Institute for Policy Studies. A former adjunct professor of hip-hop at Binghamton University and a visiting professor at University of Michigan, Blackman served as a judge for the US Department of State’s American Music Abroad program and this year spoke and performed at the Extra Yard Summit for Teachers in Phoenix, AZ, at Rothko Chapel’s “Still Dreaming MLK Conference” in Houston, TX with David Banner and Bun B, Echoing Green Foundation’s Gala in New York City, at the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., and at Guttmann Community College; Columbia University Institute for Urban & Minority Education, St. Francis College Sista 2 Sista Youth Summit and Hostos College.

She 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, Wyclef, Dougie Fresh, Wu Tang Clan, GURU, KRS One, Bahamadia, Dead Prez, Boot Camp Clic, Me’Shell NdegeoCello, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Jill Sobule, James “Blood” Ulmer, Vernon Reid, Youssou Ndour, and even Rickie Lee Jones. Toni performs for Lincoln Center Outdoors in July. Toni has appeared in a number of anthologies including Live Through This on SevenStories Press, Jay Z: Essays on Hip Hop’s Philosopher King and 360: A Revolution of Black Poets by Newberry Award Winner Kwame Alexander. Her first book, Inner-Course, was released in 2003 (Villard/Random House) and her next book, Wisdom of the Cypher, was recently completed. A graduate of Howard University, Toni was a scholarship competitor for the speech and drama team and earned a BA and an MA in communications. Toni Blackman is available for performance workshops, lectures, inspirational talks, and small group and private coaching.




9 responses to “About Miss Blackman

  1. Hi Toni,

    There’s so much more to Colombia than the three C’s: coffee, cocaine and cumbia. If you’re tired of the expected, then you might find Choc Quib Town to be an intriguing act. They fuse hip-hop, electronica and funk with Afro-Colombian rhythms to give voice to a community often overlooked in the country’s national identity. Take one look at the video for their first single, “De Donde Vengo Yo” (“Where I Come From”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb_jD–Yfp4 and you’ll see what I mean. Last year alone, Choc Quib Town made their stateside debut at SXSW, received a Latin GRAMMY nomination for “Best New Artist,” and toured from London to Paris and Berlin to India. 

    This trio of MCs–Tostao, Goyo, and Slow–just released their US debut, “Oro,” on March 2nd via Warner-distributed Nacional Records. Take a listen here: http://www.nacionalrecords.com/preview/chocquibtown. We have exclusive remixes available and could also offer a free download.

    They will be in New York in early July to play at Central Park’s SummerStage during the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC).

    I thought you might dig them!

    Looking forward to your thoughts!


  2. Areti

    I so missed them at SXSW. Will make sure to check out the link and catch them on the NY Visit!
    We’ll let heads know for sure. I think Bill Bragin told me about them so thanks for the deets! -t-

  3. Good for you, Toni Blackman! I remember you as our high school mascot… Glad to hear you are blazing trails for us all. Be safe!

  4. Ms. Blackman,

    I am attempting to teach my acting students about hip hop theater but am having trouble finding scripts for them to read and act. Would you have any suggestions? My classes are largely made up of female students and the majority are Caucasian and Hispanic.

  5. Thank you for your response and sorry for my delayed reply. I have not yet contacted the Hip Hop Theater festival because I have been in production for Dead Man Walking which closes tomorrow, but I will.
    Thank you again.

  6. All I can say is, your contributions and connections sound very inspiring…and I do hope I am not too late in my life to create as deep connections in the world.


  7. Pingback: Music as a tool for diplomacy: from Jazz to Hip-Hop | Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2013 (a)

  8. Loved meeting you in BK yesterday on my bike! I found Ali’s – that was the place! Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you at Ellary’s Greens.

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