Urban Voices Poetry and Theatre Festival delivered over a decade the most original, diverse, and cutting edge spoken word for the South African aficionados of the arts. Run from 2001 to 2010, the Festival hosted award-winning poets, theatre performers, and musicians, such as Sarah Jones, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Saul Williams, The Last Poets, Mutabaruka, Jean “Binta” Breeze, Dr. Don Materra, Staceyann Chin, Willie Perdomo, Abena Koomson, Patricia Smith, Beau Sia, Prof Willie Kgotsisile, Lebo Mashile, and Mak Manaka.
Music was also an integral part of the Festival featuring artists such Dance Hall icon Buju Banton, jazz pianist Monty Alexander, Ernest Ranglin, The I-Threes with Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, the late Sipho Gumede, Paco Sery, and his band, Angelique Kidjo, the debut launch of Siphiwe Dana, Lura from Cape Verde and many others…
With programmes of mutual learning with Africans in the Diaspora talking with artists and people in South Africa, Urban Voices strived to present opportunities for people to connect, to enjoy, and work together to building solidarity through culture and the arts for a just world and a vibrant and democratic Africa.
In that same spirit, workshops were an integral part of our learning and sharing as artists meet with aspirant writers and enthusiasts – in a free, secure and open learning space. Masterclasses on performance/movement, lectures on poetry were held in prisons, schools and other cultural community venues.