PERFORMANCE ARTIST, AUTHOR, SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN, POET & ARTS EDUCATOR
Sharrif Simmons is a performance artist, author, songwriter, musician, poet and arts educator.
His writing career spans three decades. His education as a poet started at U.C.LA. (University on the Corner of Lenox Avenue) at the famed Liberation Bookstore on 131st St. & Lenox in Harlem, New York. Founded by his Grandaunt Una Mulzac, the bookstore served the Harlem community for over 35 years, 5 of which saw him as a book salesman and avid reader. Poetry chose him the night he saw Sonia Sanchez read at the Schomburg Center for Black Research located a few blocks away on 135th st. and Lenox. Sharrif is quoted in an article of his GandAunt's passing.
He became a staple of New York's cultural renaissance in the 1990’s. Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Cooler, CBGB's, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Joe’s Pub and NYC’s Summerstage were some of the venues and stages where he performed his unique form of music and poetry. In 2005 he became a Def Poet on season 5 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam with his poem “Fuck what you heard!” Sharrif is often referred to as his generation’s Gil Scott-Heron. His musical influences range from Richie Havens, Bill Withers, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix to Rage against the Machine, Parliament Funkadelic, Old Dirty Bastard and Biggie Smalls. He’s toured Europe and the United States playing poetry and music for college campuses, festivals and spoken word conferences.
His first collection of poems, "Fast Cities and Objects That Burn" was published by Poet Jessica Care Moore (out of print). His latest collection of poetry: Poetic Thoughts Spoken Directly is Available on Amazon.com He’s been recognized for his musical contributions to the soundtrack of the four- time Emmy winning documentary, “Thornton Dial Has Something to Say." The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute commissioned him in 2008 for their Human Rights Exhibit where he helped design and program a permanent exhibition featuring a video performance of his human rights poem “Walk with Me.”
Sharrif was instrumental in the creation of the arts education programs for Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Those efforts led to the creation of ArtPlay, for which he served as an outreach educator for 12 years.
In 2010, he founded the Birmingham Arts And Music festival (BAAM!) His current collection of poems, POETIC THOUGHTS SPOKEN DIRECTLY, is available at Sharrifsimmons.com and Amazon.com. His memoir JAZZ CABBAGE: Life poems and Memories will be available in late 2020 at Sharrifsimmons.com and Amazon.com.
In 2016 he relocated to San Diego, CA where he currently resides. Additional information can be found on the Birmingham, AL wiki site.
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