A quick Q&A with Naima Shalhoub

Can you tell us more about the prison project? Can you comment on the sense of community in Oakland versus other places? Can you sing a couple of notes relative to community and restoration?

About the speaker

Naima Shalhoub is a Lebanese American artist who uses music as a tool for transformation, liberation, education and self-expression. Her dimensional work as a vocalist, composer, performing artist, and educator focuses on the expansive quality of the voice and its power for redemption and social justice.

After receiving her MA in Postcolonial and Cultural Anthropology in 2008, she turned her focus to creation and performance in the Bay Area. She immediately found herself equally at home with her band on the stages of San Francisco music venues and in the spotlight as a presenting speaker at TEDXLAU in Beirut. Her music brings vibrant personality, poetic eloquence and impassioned performances to both nationally acclaimed venues and community event spaces. She also appears in theater productions, joins fundraisers, and speaks at conferences across the United States.

In May of 2014, Naima combined her passion for music, social justice, and education by facilitating weekly “Music and Freedom” sessions with incarcerated women at the San Francisco County Jail. The program was such a success that, a year later, she recorded her debut album, Live in San Francisco County Jail, in front of an audience of those same incarcerated women, many of whom participated in the performance. The result is a recording that embodies Naima’s deeply held belief that music and song are vessels for freedom and healing.

In addition to appearing regularly with her band, Naima is currently teaching Voice and Music to middle schoolers at a public charter school in Richmond, California. As an educator, she draws on her recent experience as a Restorative Justice Coordinator for youth in the Oakland public school system. At the same time she continues to work on her project “Borderlands”: an expansion on her work in the San Francisco County Jail. Borderlands facilitates music sessions that are simultaneously expressive and educational, and ultimately connect with the larger movement of transformative justice on a local and an international scale.

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