Welfare Poets

Hip Hop & Social Action with Welfare Poets

The Welfare Poets know Hip Hop and they know Social Action.

Whether at a rally, a school, a prison or a concert hall, a Welfare Poet performance is truly an experience that is boldly defiant, musically innovative and urgently necessary in a time where information and the media are being increasingly privatized and civil liberties systematically eroded.  Approaching 15 years together with the understanding that culture is power, the Welfare Poets have reached hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

The group are a collective of activists, educators, and artists together since 1990. Through teaching residencies and workshops, through activism around community struggles, and through sharp-edged performances of music that incorporates Hip Hop, Bomba y Plena, Latin Jazz and other rhythms, the Welfare Poets bring information and inspiration to those facing oppression and those fighting for liberation.

The full band consists of 3 lyricists, a bassist, a keyboard player, 2 trumpeters, 3 percussionists (congas, drums and other) and a saxophonist.

Ray Ramirez (vocals)
Born in Harlem (El Barrio), New York and is the cofounder of the Welfare Poets. He has worked as an educator in various Community-based centers and over the past 5 years has consulted as a Writer-in-Residence at over 25 schools through out the city, working through Teachers and Writers Collaborative and The Caribbean Cultural Center. He has published close to 50 student anthologies and spoken word Cds and was the Assistant Engineer on the Project Blues album. His work has been published in various anthologies including A Gathering of the Tribes, and
the award winning publication, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Café.

Hector Rivera (vocals, congas)
Cofounder of the Welfare Poets, he has been writing, performing and teaching poetry for the past 12 years. His poetry was commissioned for “Blind Alley,” a Puerto Rican Traveling Theater production written by Nancy Nevarez. His poetry was also included in Taller Boricua (NYC) 30th. Anniversary exhibition. As an activist, Hector has participated, organized and led many community struggles around housing, environmental justice, police brutality, political prisoners, and most recently, Vieques. Hector has participated in two acts of civil disobedience against the immoral presence of the US Navy in Vieques. Hector is also an educator at many New York city-based schools.

Dahu Ala (vocals, trumpet and percussion)
Born Keith Hughes in the village of Harlem, Dahu has studies music in East Harlem and performed in a wide range of conservatories such as manor House, Boys Harbor, and the Jazz Workshop. In his youth, Dahu was victimized by the criminal justice system. His poetry reflects the brutal treatment he received in their system creating a unique aesthetic style of verse.

Djibril Toure (bass guitar)
Producer and Electric Bass player, Djibril has performed with and alongside a wide array of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Ayers, The Roots, Fat Joe, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Q-Tip and Jeru the Damaja. His work can also be heard on several recordings by Wu-Tang Clan, Hedrush, Rise & Shine and Rha-Goddess. He is also a committed grassroots activist and has been involved in organizing efforts around police brutality, political prisoners, and Vieques PR.

Jorge Vasquez (timbales, congas, percussions)
Jorge is a percussionist of diverse genres and instrumentation. He also plays timbales, barriles, bongo, and a variety of Afro-Caribbean drums. Jorge was a member of Los Amigos de la Plena, and is a founder of YerbaBuena. He has played with Viento de Agua Unplugged, Los Instantáneos de la Plena (of El Rincón Criollo), Los Bomberos de Brooklyn, and Taíno. Jorge has performed at prestigious venues throughout the country and Puerto Rico, as well as on radio and television. For his dedication to Puerto Rican musical traditions he was bestowed a Masters’ honor by the folkloric institution Los Pleneros de la 21. His mentors include masters Alberto “Tito” Cepeda and Giovanni Hidalgo, and he has performed alongside legends Tito Puente and Yomo Toro. Along with the Welfare Poets, Georgie is a member of Ya Está and recently recorded on their debut album Afro Latino Soul.

Elliot Cabrera (saxaphone)
Elliot is a virtuoso sax player who has performed with numerous merengue, latin jazz and salsa bands. He lives in Connecticut and works for the Board of Education.

Emi (keyboards and trumpet)
Emi grew up playing both piano and trumpet. Also a songwriter, producer/composer, Emi has played for many bands including Survival Sounds, Jazzyfatnastees, Rha Godess, Alkebulon and many others. Emi has also provided keyboard and trumpet for Wutang, I.G.T, and has his own crew of performers/producers, the Ah Brothers.

For more information head to: www.welfarepoets.com

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