( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Taneshia Nash Laird Produces and Organizes Def Poetry Jam Reunion Livestream to Benefit the City of Newark’s Frontline Workers
ENSPIRE Contributor: Amanda Hirsch
ENSPIRE recently highlighted the dedicated and passionate Taneshia Nash Laird who is the President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall and a lifelong patron of visual and performing arts. Currently, Laird has been busy organizing an anticipated Def Poetry Jam virtual reunion that is expected to raise funds for people in need during the COVID-19 crisis in Newark, New Jersey. With Jill Scott and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka as the headliners, this live stream is set to be a major success for not only Laird and those participating, but for the city of Newark as well.
Def Poetry Jam is an award-winning television show that aired between 2002 and 2007 for six beloved seasons. It featured spoken-word performances by well-known and up-and-coming artists. Def Poetry has been brought back several times throughout the years as reunion specials, and Laird has had a role in producing many of the events. After the influx of positive feedback from the recent “Def Comedy Jam: Healing Through Laughter” event last month, Laird used the momentum to kick start this Def Poetry Jam live stream reunion.
The event will stream on Twitch and Facebook on Saturday, May 23. It will also be broadcasted on Newark municipal access channel NWK 78. Jill Scott and Mayor Ras Baraka will headline the event. The reunion will be hosted by poets and original Def Poetry Jam veterans, Black Ice and Jessica Care Moore. More than 40 other performers are expected to participate, including actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner of “The Cosby Show”, singer-songwriter Mumu Fresh, South Plainfield’s Mike “Big Mike” Bertram and Khemist.
Taneshia Nash Laird is thrilled to be organizing this event as it will “highlight Newark as a city in an internationally televised event.” Fundraising to help the people of Newark that are in need is at the forefront of this event, but Laird also hopes this event will provide a moment of solace and distraction to focus on something joyous during these stressful, unprecedented times.