Announcing the 2017 New Griots Festival Artists!

Keno Evol - Poetry
Antonio Duke - Playwright/Performer
Vie Boheme - Dancer/Vocalist/Performer
Blackout - Improv/Theatre
Dame-Jasmine Hughes - TV Writer/Theatre/Performer
Isaac Sundberg - Photography
April Gibson - Poetry
Miss Coco Nostal'jah - Aerialist
Shaina McCoy - Painter
Arthur "L.A." Buckner - Musician

Keno Evol is the founder and executive director of BlackTableArts - an arts based organization centered on conjuring other worlds through Black art by connecting creatives and cultivating volume in Black Life. Evol has taught at nineteen institutions across the state of Minnesota including Black Voices, at Washburn High offered through TruArtSpeaks, a course centered on providing MPLS students an opportunity to engage with black literature, theory and the craft of poetry. Evol won first Place in the 2017 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest and has received the Verve Grant, Beyond the Pure fellowship, has been published in Split This Rock, Radius Lit and Vinyl. Evol has performed, taught, and led professional development in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Washington DC, Arkansas, Minnesota and New York. He navigates noting Patricia Hill Collins as she has stated “My work has always been bigger than my job”

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Antonio Duke is inspired by various myths from the black spiritual canon that derive from the Yoruba, Santeria, and Voodoo deities. He uses his mediums of acting, playwriting, hip hop dance, and spoken word poetry to bring them to the forefront of his work. In doing so he hopes to illuminate diversity within black mythos in order to hold a space where black spirituals can be celebrated. He's a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota's/Guthrie B.F.A Actor Training Program. 


Vie Boehme was born in Motown, developed in Pittsburgh and refined in Minneapolis.  She is a former dance artist with TU Dance in St. Paul, Minnesota, a founding member of The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble and a soul, funk, jazz vocalist, poet, choreographer, performance artist and vinyasa yoga instructor. Over the course of her career she has performed the works of Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown, Dwight Rhoden, Uri Sands, Darrell Grand Moultrie and Sidra Bell. Her latest single 'Take Cover' is available for purchase and live streaming on iTunes, and Spotify


Blackout is the premier Black comedy troupe of the Twin Cities. From top local venues to renowned international festivals, Blackout has performed and taught for thousands all across the globe. Whether it be improv or sketch, Blackout doesn't back down from battling the drama of the world with a fistful of funny.


Alabama born, Mississippi Delta raised, Tougaloo College cum laude graduate, product of the historically black boarding school Piney Woods, MFA graduate of California Institute of the Arts, mother, and Ivey Award winning actress Dame-Jasmine Hughes is pleased to create process-based work that centers around authentic craftsmanship, global perceptiveness, catharsis, and Afro-futurism. Her work has been showcased in Los Angeles, NYC, Denver, and the Twin Cities, respectively. The Star Tribune recently dubbed her Twin Cities' "Rising Star" for her work at theaters including Mixed Blood Theatre, Pillsbury House Theater, Penumbra Theater, and Ten Thousand Things. She will add Park Square Theater to this growing list this fall.


Growing up in the Midwest, the definition of identity comes with some confusion, but being a South Minneapolis native and doing identity projects in New York City and San Francisco has helped Isaac Sundberg explore his intersectional reach. His photos are celebrations mixing the aesthetics of urban upbringing and his eclectic experiences.


April Gibson is a poet, essayist, and educator whose work has appeared in Pluck!, Valley Voices, Tidal Basin Review, Literary Mama, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University and has received a Loft Mentorship Series Award in Poetry (2014), a Vermont Studio Center Residency (2015), is VONA/Voices Writing Workshop participant (2017), a fellow of The Watering Hole Poetry Retreat (2016) and a Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow (2017). Her chapbook, Automation (2015), was published by Willow Books as part of their emerging poet and writer series. Her current project is a full-length poetry collection titled The Black Woman Press Conference. 


After attaining her Master's Degree Miss Coco Nostal'jah went on to create, manage and facilitate youth programming for the YMCA, then the YWCA. She discovered circus arts and has been training and performing for 4 years since. Coco is currently an Aerial Arts Coach at Expertease Fitness, a Certified Group Fitness Instructor and a Personal Trainer. She regularly performs in various events and creates workshops for people of all ages across the Twin Cities.

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Shaina McCoy is a Minnesota native painter. McCoy paints with a delicate, yet heavy stroke that creates a timeless nostalgia with texture, color, body language, and faceless people of her past and present.  Continuing to evolve, she plays with various textures and subject matter. Contact:



Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, Arthur "L.A." Buckner's deep infatuation with music began at an early age. At age 3 he would often go an entire church service without taking his eyes off the drums. His father (baritone singer Art G. Buckner) took notice and shortly thereafter purchased his first drum kit. L.A. sets himself apart from other drummers and musicians with the skill to appropriately incorporate Latin, Blues, Pop, Hip-Hop, and R&B influences into whatever style of music is being played. His appreciation for simplicity complements his love of the groove. He's full of energy, humor, and has a hunger for excellence. L.A. earned his Master’s Degree in Music Performance McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN.