Akiem Scott (DJ Kool Akiem) is a renowned DJ of 25+ years, producer, and pioneer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community. As DJ and producer for the legendary Micranots, as well as DJ for MF DOOM, he has toured nationally and internationally, sharing stages with artists like Atmosphere, Public Enemy, KRS One, De La Soul, The Roots, Hieroglyphics, Grandmaster Flash, Jazzy Jeff, and Mos Def.
On top of producing critically-acclaimed albums released on record labels like Rhymesayers Entertainment, Sub Verse, and his own Mental Madness Wreckords imprint, he has held DJ residencies in NYC and Atlanta. He has served as a beta tester for Serato Software which, along with his own inventive modifications of audio equipment, contributed to pushing the boundaries of DJ technology itself. He has also been featured in several books, including “Five Percenter Rap” by Felicia Miyakawa and “Making Beat” by Joseph Schlosh. Currently, he teaches The History of Hip-Hop at McNally Smith College of Music, serves on the COMPAS teaching artist roster, and mentors youth and emerging artists.
Atim Opoka is a creator and first-generation Ugandan-American artist. Her parents taught her the power of storytelling and that stories live in the same world as we do. They taught her to be open to all emotions and stories. That if she listens to sounds around her, the stories would unfold. To let her mind wander and her heart feel. That is how she creates her stories. Whether they be songs, scenes, music, or with bodies. The power of imagination, and being able to dream guides her.
As a songwriter, vocalist, composer, actress, and teaching artist she is inspired to share authentic stories. She believes storytelling is a birthright; everyone has the power of artistry. It all depends on the environment surrounding the individual.
“There is value in learning foundations and building things traditionally. But there is something refreshing in breaking the rules. Trying new ways to use the tools that you have mastered or been given. That is how I approach creating art.” – Atim Opoka
David Bullard (Orko Eloheim), an emcee, avant-garde art rap legend, and producer, hails from the Southern California underground. He mixes the virtuosity of John Coltrane with the psychedelic approach of Jimmy Hendrix and wraps it up in the Afrofuturism of Sun Ra. Orko Eloheim has worked on more than 20 projects and has worked with innumerable artists such as Bigg Jus, Divine Styler, Aceyalone, Saul Williams, and Rick Rubin Gonjasufi.
He co-executive produced I Self Devine’s latest album “Ritual of Resilience.” The audio-visual art installation of “Rituals of Resilience” is now showing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art until March 3, 2022.
Marlina Gonzalez is a multi-disciplinary arts, theater and media curator, writer and producer. She has created international film festivals, multidisciplinary art exhibits, and performances for the Walker Art Center, the former Intermedia Arts, and Pangea World Theater. In 2012, through the Joyce Foundation Award in Theater, Marlina wrote Isla Tuliro (Island of Confusion), a play about language and colonialism which was later commissioned by Pangea and Teatro Del Pueblo.
In 2018, she conceived the multi-media performance Stop. Look. Listen for Pangea’s Lake Street Story Circles with Latinx spoken word artist, Trey Porter, Hmong-American playwright, Sunny Thao, and Japanese-American SAORI weaver, Chiaki O’Brien. With grant support from the Coalition of Asian American Leaders and Filipinx For Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice in MN, Marlina is producing Kuwentuhan, a bilingual storytelling podcast with former KFAI radio producer Ramon Hough.
“We are indigenous to a place and sojourners to another. In our movements through space and time, our lives have touched, clashed, converged, but are forever moving in parallels. I want to find convergence from points of divergence.”
Joshua Gillespie (Asè) was raised in storytelling culture. Bearing witness to his grandparents, master Storytellers Vusumuzi and Nothando Zulu, on/off-stage sparked a flame in him to carry on the torch. His artistic abilities—digital art, music, dance, and oral expertise—captivate audiences. His music centers empowerment, wisdom, strength, and dancing (or what he likes to call “Labbin”). His artwork, which uses beautifully blended colors to depict “The Spirit in its Glory;” each illustration, a story within itself, has reached audiences from the East to West Coast but holds strongest in Memphis, Tennessee.
Asè’s storytelling goal is to highlight history in the making, life lessons, and inspire his/all people to aspire to be their true selves despite life’s trials and tribulations. He believes our stories are seeds from the divine tree of life, helping to guide us and grow us into divine trees of our own.
While his journey as a storyteller has just begun he has written two stories: Kilima Kizuri and Fly Like An Eagle – The Memphis Jookin Story.
Kallie Melvin is a puppeteer and a teaching and performing artist. She has worked with numerous arts organizations in the Twin Cities, including Monkeybear Harmolodics Workshop, In the Heart of the Beast, Z Puppets I, Puppet Lab, and the Weisman Art Museum. She is also the Acting Regional Director of Puppeteers of America Great Plains. She uses her original puppetry work as a means to tell stories and explore her experiences as a transracial, intercontinental adoptee growing up in the Twin Cities.