With The Plastic Bag Store and several other CAP UCLA presentations we’ve illustrated how collaboration makes us better. Award-winning performance poet J. Ivy and pianist Lisa Kaplan will continue to carry that energy through the fall as associate curators of the 2021 Tune In Festival. Ivy and Kaplan, along with Executive and Artistic Director Kristy Edmunds, have put together an incredible lineup which will be announced September 1st.
In addition to performance poet, J. Ivy is a recording artist, songwriter, author and actor. Over the years his work has earned him a Peabody, Clio, Telly and NAACP Image Award. He is widely known as the poet featured on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning album The College Dropout on the classic song Never Let Me Down, along with Hip-Hop icon Jay-Z.
Early in his career Ivy was featured on three seasons of HBO’s Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry. From there, he did everything from performing at conferences for Deepak Chopra to penning a poem for the NBA Hall of Fame legend Michael Jordan. J. Ivy has used his unique style of poetry to navigate the art form to arenas of all facets.
In 2015, directors Coodie & Chike commissioned J. Ivy to poetically narrate, act, and star in the award winning B.E.T. documentary, Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ. The trio later followed up with the NAACP Nominated documentary, Martin: The Legacy of a King. Both films paid homage to two of the world’s most iconic voices. The author of three books, his latest, Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain, has inspired many to pick up the pen and write their own Dear Father Letter in hopes of promoting the Power of Forgiveness.
A fun fact for many, J. Ivy is the man who gave EGOT-winning singer, songwriter, actor and activist John Stephens the stage name John Legend, as told by John himself on Oprah’s Next Chapter. In 2019 J. Ivy became the first Spoken Word Artist to hold a Chapter President’s seat (Chicago Chapter) in the history of the Recording Academy (The Grammy’s).
Lisa Kaplan is the founding pianist and Executive Director of the four-time Grammy Award-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird. She has won numerous awards, performed all over the country and has premiered new pieces by hundreds of composers, including Andy Akiho, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, George Perle and Pamela Z.
As of late, Kaplan has also greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to do both composing and arranging for Eighth Blackbird as well as some producing. In 2019, Kaplan co-produced her first record, When We Are Inhuman, with Bryce Dessner.
Throughout her career, Lisa Kaplan has had the great pleasure to collaborate and make music with an eclectic array of incredibly talented people including Laurie Anderson, Jeremy Denk, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Bon Iver, J. Ivy, Glenn Kotche, Shara Nova, Will Oldham, Natalie Portman, Gustavo Santaolalla, Robert Spano, Tarrey Torae, Dawn Upshaw and Michael Ward-Bergeman to name a few.
As a proud single-mama-by-choice, Kaplan has been having an incredible time raising and learning from her happy-go-lucky four-year-old, Frida. Kaplan is a true foodie, gourmet cook, avid reader, crossword and Scrabble addict, enjoys baking ridiculously complicated pastry and loves outdoor adventures. She has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, braved the Australian outback, stared an enormous elephant in the face in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and survived close encounters with grizzly bears in the Brooks Range of Alaska.