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Wendi Berman

playwright, actor, director, singer, and dancer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of Gloria Diaz Bagneris and Lawrence Bagneris Sr. Bagneris's mother was a housewife and deeply religious woman who “quietly outclassed most people,” and his father was a playful, creative man, a World War II veteran, and lifelong postal clerk. Bagneris grew up in the tightly knit, predominantly Creole Seventh Ward to a family of free people of color that had been in New Orleans since 1750 From the age of six he had a knack for winning popular dance contests and during christenings and jazz funerals he learned more traditional music and dance By the mid 1960s the once beautiful tree lined neighborhood in which he was raised fell victim to the U S government s program of urban renewal known colloquially as Negro removal A freeway overpass was ...

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Takkara Keosha Brunson

was born in Santiago de Cuba, in the eastern region of Cuba. The daughter of Leocadia Almanza and Germán Cosme, she was orphaned at a young age and eventually adopted by a wealthy Santiago family, who moved her to the capital city of Havana. Cosme began her study of music and piano theory at the Municipal School of Music. She later studied elocution and declamation at the Academy of Declamation of the Municipal Conservatory.

Cosme realized her passion for reciting poetry at a young age. Initially, she followed in the tradition of prominent declamation performers from Europe and Latin America, who performed works by white poets. However, upon reading the poetry collections Motivos de son (1930) and Sóngoro Cosóngo (1931) by the famous Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén, she recognized her true calling as a performer. She began to recite Afro-Antillean poetry, as well as poesía negra ...