MSAC Roster Artist Jamaal Collier is a man who is glad to be alive.
Not because of any near death experience that we know of: Jamaal is simply one of those individuals who orient themselves entirely toward positivity. He’s the kind of person who lists “the inherent beauty and goodness of nouns the Creator has provided us” as part of what gets him out of bed in the morning. Not that it’s been easy: commuting from a job in Greenbelt to school in Towson (up to 2½ hours each way by MTA), working five jobs as a senior in Sports Medicine and Theater – all honed his determination to become a full-time artist, a goal he achieved in 2014.
Since then, he has developed as a hip-hop artist under the moniker “Black Root”—a good fit with his dramatic talents and his Latino-Guyanese heritage, but also a genre he celebrates for its diversity. His basic approach has led him into a performing and hosting events across the mid-Atlantic. This practice connects him to arts entrepreneurship, community, and family—his own and others. His education work has taken him to over 80 schools in the mid-Atlantic—teaching, not only students, but other teachers; and not just rhymes but math concepts. Some projects that can give an idea of the breadth of Jamaal’s interests include:
- Leading a “hip hop based multiple genre high energy live band experience” known as Black Root Underground.
- Recipient of Towson University’s Distinguished Black Marylander award.
- Teaming up with Baltimore beatboxer Max Bent for “Baby Beats”–beatboxing for families featuring kid-appropriate lyrics.
- Mic-ology Spoken Word Slam Champion in 2007.
- Work with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts as a “teaching artist” developing performative skills in science and math teachers.
- Full time work with Young Audiences of Maryland, including a summer “arts academy” with Baltimore City Schools pairing local teachers with artists in a summer camp setting, culminating in his being named YAMD Artist of the Year 2016.