Toni Blackman, a highly respected artist, and social entrepreneur, is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the US Department of State. She is currently an artist with the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute and a fellow in the Echoing Green Foundation’s Thought Leadership Cohort. Creator of Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop and Rhyme Like A Girl, for which she was awarded a prestigious Open Society Institute fellowship (Soros Foundation), Toni is one of the world’s foremost Hip-Hop activists.
This influence led to Toni being selected as a 2012 DOVE soap Real Woman Honoree. Working in over 34 different countries, touring Africa, southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, and Brazil has positioned Toni to consult for festivals, conferences and she most recently curated SOURCE 360’s International Hip Hop Show as a part of the Barclay’s Center programming in a partnership with BAM. She has spoken at ASPEN Institute’s World Summit on Creativity in Oman, the Pio Manzu Conference in Italy, the World Social Forum in Barcelona, as a featured speaker at Chicago Ideas Week, at TEDx UMass at Amherst and most recently at Rockefeller Plaza for NBC Universal’s B.P.A. Conference.
Toni taught the art of emceeing as an elective at BCAM High School in Brooklyn, NY, she also taught a course on Hip Hop at Binghamton University, served a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, spent a year working with the Independent Living Program in Washington, DC, served as a teaching artist with WritersCorps (an Americorp program for poets), and has led workshops everywhere from Syracuse University, Spelman College and the Children’s AID Society to the Julliard School and
Toni was recently commissioned by the National Black Arts Festival to write and present her theater piece, Wisdom of the Cypher, and will release the book in Spring 2015 along with the first EP in the Meditational Mixtape Series. She has shared stages with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, KRS One, Vernon Reid, Meshell, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and Youssou Ndour; worked with producer/engineer Gordon Williams and Lee Stone; and appeared on Universal Records Jazz (France), BMG/Novus, Big Dada Recordings and NovaRecords. This visionary artist leads freestyle masterclasses, rap cyphers, has developed innovative approaches to using the cypher as a concept for community building, leadership development, and healing and is on the working committee for Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa.org. She was recently featured in Forbes Magazine, on CENTRIC television, and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Toni earned her B.A. and M.A. at Howard University.