Meet the inspirational guests that are featured on Digging Deeper! Their bios include links to their websites, projects, art, and/or where to find their work!
Lena Harbali is an Artist and self taught fashion designer. Her mission is to change the face of the fashion industry through her work. Her aim is creating an inclusive industry by designing clothing for people of every shape, color, size, and gender expression. Lena believes that with self love, empathy, and great fashion, we can change the world! Check out Lena on IG and see her at her free sewing workshops in Detroit. Lena’s current store front is at Detroit Fiber Works.
Namira Islam is a lawyer and graphic designer. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), an organization which provides racial justice education and training. Namira previously practiced in poverty law in Flint, Michigan; worked in prisoners’ rights litigation; and interned in international criminal law and war crimes for the United Nations in The Hague, The Netherlands. Her legal background includes research on racism, global education standards, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training. Namira has delivered lectures and workshops on diversity, community, and justice across the United States. She has written for multiple publications and provided commentary and analysis on identity, current events, and social justice narratives for radio shows, documentary films, and other media worldwide. Namira was born in Detroit, Michigan to Bangladeshi parents and currently resides in Metro Detroit. She is an alumna of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and the Michigan State University College of Law. She tweets @namirari.
Tariq Gardner is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Music (Winter 2018). He has been in Detroit’s music Community for years though, as drummer for The John Douglas Quartet for 2 years, leading his own group at Berts Marketplace from January thru August 2018, and leading other groups in various circumstances, most notably playing for the Afro-World Festival for all three days in 2018.
In Gardner’s group (Tariq Gardner’s Evening Star), there is a core of jazz musicianship that is interwoven with contemporary R&B, Hip-Hop, and rhythms from the Latin American and African diaspora.
Youth Music Education and Cultural Enrichment are also a very important facet of Gardner’s musical identity as He has served as a teaching artist for University Musical Society for the past year.
Asha Noor is a racial justice and human rights advocate who served her community, and other marginalized groups for the last ten years. Noor currently is the Programming and Outreach Director at CAIR-MI for Safe Spaces, the largest Muslim civil rights organization. She worked both domestically and abroad in conflict zones with marginalized communities, including women, afro-indigenous groups, refugees, religious minorities and trauma victims. She holds a MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and BA in Political Science from Michigan State University.
Supreme Flows is a rapper and producer from Southwest Detroit. Known for his complex rhyme schemes and bars with double and triple meanings, Supreme Flows is a Detroit born wordsmith with strong ties to not only the streets of Detroit but to his Native American heritage. He seeks to maintain and share the duality of his cultural identity as both a black and Native American young man through the music that he creates. His experiences growing up in the hood ground him and his Native American roots up lift him as he weaves autobiographical pictures rich in both sacred and hood culture, realities, and experiences. In addition to being an MC he is a producer of music with heavy influences in House, Electronic, and Jazz.
Adela is the head baker and owner of Hip Hop Bake Shop, based out of Detroit, MI. Food has always had a special place in Adela’s heart. Growing up in Albania, Adela loved how the kitchen served as a gathering place for family and friends. At age 12 her family moved and settled in Metro-Detroit; soon after Adela found herself in love once again, but this time it was with Hip Hop. She instantly connected with the beats and lyricism of the music, finding its message empowering and very real. Her journey to belonging has never been about choosing one culture and community over the other, but in fully immersing herself and connecting the two through her love of food and music - in being able to express herself - and for that, she is ever-grateful for the support she has found in both.
Adela grew her skills at Table 52 (now Blue Door Kitchen & Garden) in Chicago and then spent a year as the Executive Pastry Chef at Grey Ghost, Detroit. Adela then decided it was time to focus on her own concept – a shop that brings together her affection for and commitment to baking, music, and people. The Hip Hop Bake Shop is a work in progress, much like her. It embodies the passion, hard work and gratitude of knowing where she is from and who she has become. It is an expression and extension of her, her story and a special tribute to Hip Hop.
Hind Ourahou is a Detroit-based design thinker and researcher. Upon leaving Morocco, her homeland, to pursue education in South Africa, Hind lived in different corners of the world and picked up a passion for building and languages. Hind is currently a design thinking and culture consultant at General Motors and a Challenge Detroit Fellow.
Juuni is a percussionist and producer based in Detroit, MI. His rhythmic identity was formed by the Junkanoo celebrations in his motherland of The Bahamas. His sound is best described as The Roots meet Pharrell with Caribbean sauce. Detroit is where his rhythm was refined under the instruction of Gayelynn McKinney.
Juuni gravitated to the New Orleans second line group, Gabriel Brass Band in 2011, joining the 5th generations of the Gabriel tradition. In 2014 Juuni toured Turkmenistan with lyricist Mahogany Jones to represent as cultural ambassadors for Hip Hop in 2014 performing and educating on rhythm and the elements of Hip Hop. At the end of 2014, Juuni and friends birthed Onefreq, an electronic soul project that has shared stages with Erykah Badu, Gregory Porter, and Masego. Juuni has collaborated with renowned visual artists including: Nick Cave’s Hear Here, 106 and Rashaad Newsome’s Kings of Arms, 2017. In 2017 Juuni was awarded the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge for his work with D.Cipher, Detroit’s Music Mastermind Collective.
Becky Scarcello is a life-long supporter and promoter of the City of Detroit. She is currently the Business Manager and a Tour Guide with Feet on the Street Tours Detroit, serves on the Board of Trustees of Matrix Human Services, and is the co-host and writer of the D Brief podcast about Detroit’s arts and entertainment scene. Having worked and volunteered at many Detroit companies, foundations, and non-profits focused on city vibrancy, Becky loves helping people discover the hidden gems, fascinating people, and exciting venues of Detroit. Becky is a believer in the transformative power of the arts in all its forms.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Karen Tomalis became involved in music at an early age, performing in jazz clubs throughout her teen years in Toledo and Detroit. Receiving a Bachelors in Jazz Studies from Wayne State University, she has accumulated almost 30 years of playing drums/percussion professionally in a wide range of musical genres with numerous local and nationally known performing artists, taught music privately for a number of years, and has contributed to various recordings.
Asya “IzMe” Ziyad is multi-passionate artist hailing from Detroit, MI. With roots in community building, Asya learned to use music as a means of service and healing. She began studying music at an early age and has expanded her studies to many crafts including visual arts, performing arts, carpentry, and clothing design. Singing hooks and background vocals, Asya has been a prize to many artists across the US and beyond. she has contributed to collaborate artist works such as The iLL Lyterati, W.A.T.I.A, Video 7, The BeTroit Exchange, and Alphaland. Asya currently curates arts centered events- making space for lovers of the arts to gather and thrive.
Ali Hussain is a doctoral candidate in Islamic studies in the department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan. His research focuses on the sacred body of Jesus in the thought and writings of the 12th/13th century Muslim mystic Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-ʿArabi (d. 1240). He is also interested in sacred bodies as tools for mythic storytelling in Sufism. From this perspective, his aim to highlight how Sufis throughout history, until present time, have forged stories revolving around sacred bodies in order to help the reader linger between the material and spiritual realms. This focus also shapes his interest in contemporary spiritual and intellectual crises facing Muslims and religious subjects in general. Ali is invested in reviving the ancient spiritual heritage, known as mystical theosophy, as represented auspiciously by Ibn al-ʿArabi, Rumi and others, among Muslims living in the West; in order to help them forge new myths and stories about their search for truth in the age of globalization. He is also very passionate about eastern music and is actively learning the Oud. He hopes to combine his love for the eastern maqam with Sufism and highlight the deep spiritual legacy of music in Islam and the importance of its return to modern religiosity.
Misty Lyn is a musician and photographer based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Front lady and songwriter for Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful, and singing, tambourine-ing side lady for Matt Jones & the Reconstruction. Creator and host of the 52 Portrait Project focusing on inspiring women. The project includes photos and a podcast that gets down to the habits, rituals, and ways of being of these women that aren’t necessarily spoken of, but inspire those around them to do better. Resident photographer for the River Street Anthology, a Michigan music preservation project created by Matt Jones and affiliated with the Archives of Michigan.
Christina Rountree has been involved in the arts since the 1990s at a young age. Christina is a graphic designer, musician, and photographer. She is a lover of many visual, performing, and culinary arts. Christina focuses on supporting local artist as a means to stay connected to the conversation of what culture is and how it is defined in her city Detroit Michigan.
Noura Ballout is a Detroit based Artist, Curator, and Entrepreneur. Their work is an exploration of self and a critic of societal perceptions of their inter-sectional identities. Telling a story of a; brown, queer, muslim, and trans diaspora. Noura has exhibited their work at The Arab American Museum, 555 Gallery, Whitdel Arts Gallery, Annex Gallery, Flux Gallery of NYC, and Wayne State University. Noura is also the co-owner of The Bottomline Coffeehouse, a safe space in midtown which brings people together with coffee, storytelling, and a sense of community. They also run Detroit Grinds. Check Noura’s website and Instagrams accounts @balloutprojects @Detroitgrinds @tbldetroit. Email Noura at email@example.com
Dr. Zain Shamoon completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies in Fall 2017 at Michigan State University. He also completed a Master's degree in Couple and Family therapy in 2011. In all of his work, Dr. Shamoon is dedicated to the creation of spaces where people can tell their personal stories on route to their own growth and wellness. In his clinical work, he has served those experiencing suicidal ideation, in helping them find safety and relief. He has also worked with those who are pervasively depressed, as well as with struggling couples over the course of the past decade. He has always been interested in the meeting place between expression and healing. During his undergraduate and graduate studies, he served as a seven-year director of a student-acted theatrical show called the Tunnel of Oppression. In March 2015, he helped launch the Narratives of Pain project, which is a group emotional outlet of personal narrative and catharsis based in Metro Detroit. Currently, Zain is a practicing Couple and Family therapist in Southeast Michigan. He also an accomplished local and independent musician/performance artist.
Detroit native Supercoolwicked is super awesome different. Pouring her boisterous vocals all over eclectically bouncy instrumentation, people find themselves steeped in her organic sound. Using carefully sculpted production she creates a #HighGloss world for her listeners in which to live. With a thorough message of "Who cares about what everybody else things? Do what you love," she embodies universal emotion through her musical pieces. Check her at on her Instagram @supercoolwicked.
Blues. Rock. Hip-hop. This might be Trey Priest at the core, but there’s always more. Influenced by all styles of music, the 28 year old MC/Guitarist from Detroit actively performs as a solo artist and lead guitarist with fellow Detroit bands ONEFREQ and The NLR Experience. His talents have granted him the opportunity to open up for world-renowned artists Erykah Badu, Gregory Porter, Hiatus Kaiyote and many more. Trey became very passionate about hip-hop at the age of 12. By day, he developed his craft by freestyling and battle rapping at school and the bus stop. By night, he wrote rhymes with more focus, allowing him to grow as an adaptable MC. It wasn't until 2009 that he began his journey on guitar. He has since then combined his instrumental flair with his ability as a lyricist, giving an alternative idea of what the typical "frontman" is. Trey continues to perform nationally and is currently recording new music to be released this summer.
Birth name: Thelonious Delano Gambrell aka Psych-kick aka Black Acid aka Detroit Techno Warrior. Kafani was born in Flint, and moved to Detroit at the age of 7. He studied many forms of dance including modern jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and techno/house dancing. He was one of the first and primary dancers at the Music Institute, the first club and educational center dedicated to Techno in the city. He toured worldwide in collaboration with the internationally known techno music group, Inner City. While on tour with Inner City, he was privileged to perform at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Kafani studied the Dunham Technique and complex traditional West African dance traditions. Spiritually, after becoming Muslim in college, he joined an international brotherhood of Sufis who practice Tasawwuf, called the Tariqa Tijaniyya. Shortly after that he traveled to Senegal, West Africa, where he studied Al-Islam under spiritual mentor, Shaykh Hassan Cisse, and remained in the motherland for close to 15 years. He has spent the last decade as a cultural ambassador, raising awareness and encouraging cross-cultural exchange between Africa and the diaspora. He is a dancer emeritus with the Jit/Techno dance crew, Hardcore Detroit and teaches workshops on various on subject matter all across the country, including techno dance foundations. He was featured in “White Noise ft. Aluna George” video by Disclosure, Waajeed’s 2017 “Shango” and in the “Kingdom” video also by Waajeed.
Joel was born in Miami, Florida in 1956. He graduated from the Digital Imaging Program at Lansing Community College in 2010. The school purchased one of his images for its permanent collection and honored him with the Zimmerman Visual Arts Award. He served as a docent for the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in 2011. Among the featured artists he studied and presented to audiences were Dianora Niccolini, Andy Warhol, and Duane Michals. Joel has exhibited in Michigan, Indiana, Florida, and California. He was the featured artist in the 2013 anniversary issue of UNSung magazine. The editors of Unsung wrote, “Geffen creates by responding viscerally and immediately to what he sees . . . his photographs are grounded in the physical world, ranging from highly detailed and precise close-ups inviting careful examination to soft and tranquil images with out-of-focus backgrounds that elicit contemplation.” Joel lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and works as a professor at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan.
Joyce Piert (aka Dr. P) declares herself a Spirit BEing playing in the playgrounds of consciousness. She has manifested herself under various labels and in various roles: educator, author, poetess and painter. She is currently the Executive Director of New Evolution Educational Center, a nonprofit organization that brings unique educational experiences to children in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Dr. P instructs mathematics at the University of Michigan-Flint. She is the author of the book “Alchemy of the Soul: An African-Centered Education.” She loves to evoke critical thought and to support others in developing mindfulness practices and self-care.
Joel Fluent Greene is a Detroit based poet, author, and event curator. A Spirit of Detroit Award winner, Joel was the long running host of Detroit's iconic Cafe Mahogany poetry nights and has shared the stage with as diverse as The Roots, Pharrell Williams, The Last Poets, Big Sean, Saul Williams, Jessica Care Moore, and The Detroit Red Wings. As former director for Music Hall's Word and Rhythms of the D outreach program, he has held workshops and performances in over 50 schools in the Metro Detroit area. Joel is an author of four collections of poetry: WAXING/waning, Poems of Bungalow & Concrete, Somewhere In The Middle/Love Poems and Felt. A Collection of Personal Favorites. Joel is currently creative writing instructor at Mariners Inn, a shelter and treatment center located in Detroit. Check out his Instagram and Facebook to see more updates on future events and open mics.
Nique Love Rhodes is a hip-hop artist/performer, record producer, social entrepreneur, and community advocate from Detroit, Michigan with the mission to set souls on fire and contribute positive vibes in the world one song at a time. Her music is galvanized by her bold, energetic, and empowering live show. Backed by her band The NLR Experience, her interactive shows fuse hip-hop music with soul, rock, and jazz to create a dynamic live musical experience. This is sonically captured in the band’s most recent project, a live album titled The NLR Experience which is currently available on all streaming platforms.
Lu Fuki is a guitarist, composer, and the lead guitarist and founder of the jazz collective Lu Fuki and Divine Providence, whose main focus is to unite and heal hearts by the use of sound. His name, Lu Fuki, means to strive and is the origin of "funk," and is very much connected to his purpose in pursuing music. Lu Fuki holds a Masters degree from Wayne State University in Near Eastern Languages specializing in Arabic, where he focused on the genre of Tasliyah (praise poetry in Islam). He has wrote and edited many works on theology and esoteric sciences. He is releasing his first album, Inner Horizons, and is currently working on his book on the reflections of spirit music called The Training of the Souls through the Theosophy and Sciences of Sound.
Kanem X is a guitarist and composer, writing in a bold, fiery style of rock and blues. His DIY work ethic led to his 2017 debut EP, “Bite the Bullet”, showing a gritty artist, out there cutting his teeth, but always grinning. Although for a time he performed solo, he began working with great players, guitarist/vocalist Hootie Tunes and bassist Borz the Boogie Man, forming "Kanem X & the May Moons". The band has a blast performing around Southeast Michigan, from bars & clubs, to college football tailgates, to even a University of Michigan culture show. Kanem is working with the May Moons on writing and releasing singles throughout 2018 and continuing on the joyful road that guitar and music leads. Stay up to date on music releases, performances and all other things Kanem X & the May Moons related at KanemMusic.com and on social media @KanemMusic (instagram, facebook, twitter & snapchat).
Dr. Reem Abou-Samra is a poet, a teacher, a mother, and a baking enthusiast. She has a PhD in Political Theory, focusing on Muslim Americans and identity. Reem currently works as an instructor of Middle Eastern Studies, Islamic Studies and Political Science at Wayne State University and the University of Detroit-Mercy. She has presented her research at national and international conferences regarding various groups (Arabs, Muslims-Americans, and African-Americans) dealing with identity, patriotism, Americanness, cosmopolitanism and concentric identity.
Piper Carter is a community organizer, image maker, fashion photographer, and the co-founder of We Found Hip-Hop, a foundation celebrating women in Hip Hop. She is also a founding member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, multimedia artist for Jessica Care Moore's Black Women Rock, founding member of Cosmic Slop, part-time assistant stage manager at Chene Park Amphitheater, Adult Ally for Detroit Youth, Editor-In-Chief of thestudioarena.com, Detroit Coordinator for HIPHOP4THEPEOPLE, staff member of Detroit Independent Freedom Schools, and a member of Detroit Equity Action Lab (for Racial Justice).
Aishah Gulam is a published and award winning poet who has been writing since the early age of seven years old. She is quoted and referenced in articles about activism, particularly sexual abuse in the Muslim community. She currently works in HR and is the Director of Development for the Institute of Muslim Mental Health.
After the loss of a child + stage IV cancer, this yogi took a swan dive off the headhunting corporate ladder and started in the business of guiding others to heal hearts instead. Leah is a homeschooling mother, intuitive healer, student of Northern Illocos Shamanism, Advanced Buti Teacher, and founder of Starseed Yoga, in Canton, MI, which is not just a studio, but a statement.
Lady Khadija is a wellness advocate, early educator, performance poet, and vocalist. Since 1997, she has used the arts, activism, and new media to inspire social change, ignite cross cultural dialog, and promote personal, community, and spiritual development. Lady Khadija recently started a podcast called Thrive. Flourish. Prosper. Be sure to check out her band-camp here and some of her YouTube videos here. She has has a coloring book called Sankofa: A Coloring Book of African Prints & Proverbs.
Ashley Peacock is a talent developer based in southeast Michigan. Originally from Flint, he moved to Cincinnati for 12 years and from there he toured nationally as a singer/songwriter. Transitioning to production and development, he recently returned to his stomping grounds and created Soul Foundry to support artists in their role of repositioning the region as an area of influence in the nation's musical landscape. Keep connected at www.thesoulfoundry.com.
Professor Currie is a poet, a writer, and a lover of reading and photography. She has been a Professor of Communication and Visual Arts at University of Michigan- Flint and has been teaching Spoken Word for over a decade. Outside of her job, she has facilitated and spoken at events about diversity and identity. She has also been involved in healing work, spending the last 7 years working with youth in the Flint juvenile system, using art as a form of therapy and as a way to address trauma. Traci currently runs an Instagram where she documents people's "Spirit Spaces," and their conception of "Spirit."
Kamau is a Sufi artist, poet, conga-lover who works as a chaplain at the University of Michigan Hospital. He is trained in spiritual care and guided meditations. Kamau grew up in a family of artists and activists and as such as maintained a very artistic and spiritual identity. As a Naqshbandi Sufi, under the tutelage of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Kamau has a strong background in Islamic spirituality, Naqshbandi breathing exercises, and spiritual music and chanting. He has several of his guided meditations on his YouTube channel.
Ber-henda is a poet, an open mic and radio host, and a high school Spanish teacher. She is the founder of The Power of Girlhood, a leadership development institute for girls 13-18 years old that focuses on leadership, personal development and social justice. She also hosts B International, a quarterly spiritual, edutainment experience that features local, national and international artists. Her latest project, B Intentional, is a radio show aired on Motor City Woman every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 7-9pm EST.
Mahogany Jones harnesses the true power of music to uplift the spirit, body, and soul and educate the masses. She is a rapper, recording & performance artist, educator, and activist, specializing in sharing positivity to uplift the community. The 4x Undefeated BET's 106 & Park "Freestyle Fridays" champion has gone on to headline in over 13 countries on four continents as an official U.S. music ambassador. As a Hip-Hop activist, she launched A PURE Movement to empower women and girls and to confront violence against women. The latest of her three albums is named Sugar Water.
Mike is a Detroit jazz saxophonist who began his saxophone journey under the tutelage of the jazz legend, Teddy Harris Jr. Mike has traveled all over the nation playing the sax and spent 20 years showcasing his talents in New York. Now back in his hometown of Detroit, he works as a high school music teacher while playing at famous local venues such as the DIA, the Jazz Cafe at the Music Hall, The Dirty Dog, and many more. His latest album is called Perseverance.
Sophiyah is a singer/songwriter who plays the keys with whole lot of soul. Her latest project, Alignment, began as an expressive exhibition created to explore both the balances and imbalances of life. Sophiyah is also very interested in health and yoga. She started a group called Soul Sundays to empower and stimulate the mind while uplifting one another along their journeys. Sophiyah also frequently sings with her love, electric guitarist, Trey Priest, and his phenomenal band.