Hanifah Walidah was born on October 16 in New York, New York. Hanifah Walidah is an “artist, friend, woman, black, lesbian, shit-talker. In that order.” She cultivates societal perceptions by making music, writing plays, educating, and engaging in artistic activism.

Hanifah Walidah first arrived in Oakland, California in 1999 before she would launch her play called Straight Black Folks’ Guide to Gay Black Folks. She does not currently live in Oakland; she moved to Atlanta.

Her rich 20-year career has taken an ethnographic approach to the arts and social change. In the early ‘90s she spearheaded and laid the foundation for the hip-hop poetic revolution in New York with collectives Vibe Khameleons and The Boom Poetic. She was signed to Imago Records in 1993 to release her debut album A Head Nädda’s Journey to Adidi-Skizm, which produced the infectious single “Soulsville.”

First introduced as Shä-Key with the 1994 hip-hop LP release A Head Nädda’s Journey to Adidi-Skizm, she has since, along with reclaiming her birth name Hanifah Walidah, developed a vocal and performance style that is rooted in the midnight of blues, the backrooms of house, the silent moments of soul, and the unshaken will of hip-hop.


  • Oakland Box Theater, 1928 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612. You could find Hanifah on Wednesday nights at “The Open Word” at the Oakland Box, where favored local poets and playwrights Walidah, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Aya de Léon would remix excerpts of their works to tell a new story (9 p.m., $10).
  • Oaklandish, 411 2nd Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Thursday night is “The Open Soul” at Oaklandish, where Walidah, Tim’m West, Nonamenko, and Gabrilla Ballard would perform specially selected songs, fusing them into a hip-hop/soul musical theater concoction (9 p.m., $10). These places were the most affordable ways for Hanifah to reach her community.

~ by Nyisha Young ~

External Links:

Walidah, Hanifah. About page. Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/mswalidah/about?section=bio&lst=100005941787934%3A698120706%3A1576303049. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.

Hanifah Walidah on Instagram: “Happy Birthday Toilani!”
Hanifah Walidah -Theater

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