First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community to perform Feb. 21

The First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble
From left: Cydney Edwards, Janel Herrera, Andrew Thomas, Thiahera Nurse and Christian Robinsion

Jan. 28, 2013 - Members of The First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, a multicultural artistic program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will perform "Kingdom Bequeath," an urban art performance, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, in Burt Kahn Court on the Mount Carmel Campus.

This event, which is part of Quinnipiac's Black History Month celebration, is free and open to the public.

In an experimental theater production rooted in questions about today's civil rights, First Wave's touring ensemble will explore themes around purpose, power and responsibility as concerns for today's youth and challenging stigmas that prevent the king in all of us from being realized. During their performance, First Wave will explore these questions: What makes a King? Is it power alone or how power is welded? Is it respect for or respect from the people? Is it a fight for equal rights and justice or is it generations living the lessons and shaping new ones?

The touring group is comprised of five artists:

Andrew Ronnell Julian Thomas is a 22-year-old poet, actor, playwright, director, singer, song writer, producer and rapper, who is completing a bachelor's degree in theater and drama at UW Madison. Born in Minneapolis, he has been performing in the local Minneapolis hip hop scene since his early teens. Since attending UW Madison as a First Wave scholar, he has performed at many events, including last year's National College Battle of the Bands.

Thiahera LeSian Nurse is a 21-year old junior studying creative writing at UW Madison. A poet in the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, Nurse, of Queens, N.Y., is invested in telling her own story and the stories of the voiceless.

Christian Robinson is a 20-year-old poet, emcee and music engineer who was born outside of Chicago and raised in Philadelphia. He began performing spoken word his sophomore year of high school and has been growing as a poet and lyricist ever since. He has won multiple poetry awards, including the Ishma Stewart Award in honor of a fallen classmate's memory. He is studying English, creative writing and criminal justice at the University of

Janel Lee Herrera is a 19-year-old singer and poet from Brooklyn, N.Y. As both a student studying social welfare and an artist, Herrera strives to capture her audience's attention through her words and use it as a gateway toward self-reflection and communal understanding.

Cydney M. Edwards is a 22-year-old performing poet, author, director, scholar and activist raised in Chicago. She aims to use her struggles and successes to encourage and provoke esteem. She attends UW Madison and aspires to be an attorney who specializes in entertainment and education.

The First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community brings together young artists and leaders from across the United States and beyond. First Wave offers students the opportunity to live, study and create together in a campus community. The First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word and the hip hop culture. The inaugural First Wave cohort of 15 students began their UW-Madison career in 2007 and currently there are 60 spoken word and hip hop artists on full-tuition scholarship or that have graduated from the program.

For more information, call 203-582-8652.