Poet, Emcee, and Youth Activist
Poet, Emcee, and Youth Activist
Some might say Messiah Ramkissoon's success started in his place of birth - Trinidad. Or perhaps it began in the US, in Annapolis then New York City, where Messiah was raised from the age of 11. Maybe Messiah owes his success to The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, where he was named youth of the year in 1999-2000, a recognition that got news correspondent, Tim Russert’s attention and made Messiah the feature of one of Russert’s NBC news retrospectives. Or was it when Oprah took notice and awarded home-schooled Messiah a $25,000 college scholarship, which he used to attend Howard University?
All of these moments were epic, but without a doubt, young, urban America met Messiah on Harlem’s famous Apollo stage in 2005. Only 20-years-old at the time, Messiah performed his poem “Sharika Was a Champ”, a metaphorical fable about the importance self respect and safe sex. With “Sherika Was a Champ”, Messiah blended Hip Hop and spoken word in a way that had not been done before in mainstream Hip Hop. The Apollo audience recognized that something fresh and unique was before them, and responded. He won 3 consecutive shows.
Messiah was not done with television. Following his win at The Apollo, Messiah went on a 5-city tour with Grammy-nominated singer Kelly Price.Their final performance for Price’s “This is who I am” album release celebration was aired on BET Jazz.
In 2008, Messiah won a BET rap contest and opened up for Janelle Monae at the pre-event for the BET awards in LA that year. His performance was aired on BET Jazz. Following his performance at the BET awards, Messiah and director, Ron Brodie filmed “In the AM”. It was Messiah’s first music video and was recorded in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
2010 was an impressive year for Messiah. In January, Haiti experienced a massive earthquake and Messiah made it a priority to join the platform to assist after the tragedy. Performing at several benefit concerts, he helped raise more than $15,000 for the survivors of the earthquake along with Wale and others at a Howard University concert. When Sudan had their first democratic election in 24 years, Messiah lent his voice to the cause, recording the song and video, “*BeSokta*”, (meaning ‘with your vote’) with Sudanese rappers in an effort to encourage Sudanese citizens to vote. CNN highlighted the making of the video.
Messiah also featured The Floacist from the renowned duo "Floetry" on one of his newest songs, “Tell me What you Want”, and the pair recorded a video for the song, which was directed by Opiyo Okeyo. His new video, “Come Back To Me”, also directed by Opiyo Okeyo, was featured on Vh1 Centric TV site, as well WKYS for Radio One. The song was also recently featured on Soundtrack for the "Milk and Honey" web series starring Lance Gross, Ms. Debbie Allen and directed by Idris Elba.
Messiah has shared stages with Lupe Fiasco, Stalley, Ledisi, Patti Labelle and also performed at Washington D.C.'s National Martin Luther King Memorial Dedication ceremony where President Obama, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and many others shared the program. Messiah has been also been serving as performing artist/moderator for the recent sequence of Celebrity Fatherhood panels organized by NBA veteran Etan Thomas and featuring names such as Styles P, Allan Houston and Amare Stoudemire of the NY Knicks. He also won the 2012 HOT 97 Voter Registration Jam performance contest at Lehman College in the Bronx, NY which was co-hosted by famed actress Rosario Dawson. For his fans in the NYC and DC area, Messiah began organizing a monthly live performance called Messiah & Friends which features live canvas painting, body painting, diverse genre vocal performances, a live band and gallery exhibitions.
Besides his love for his art and performing, Messiah has taught poetry at The Duke Ellington School, conducted regular workshops at Luke Moore Alternative High School, and mentored young men incarcerated at the New Beginnings juvenile detention center. He now does mentoring and facilitates cognitive behavior workshops for young men at Rikers Island jail in NYC. He also hosts a monthly talent showcase at Rikers via the arts, coaching incarcerated male writers between ages 16-19.
His album "The Mission Statement Vol. 2", which is a marriage of rhyming with spoken word complimented by Brave Boi Band's live instrumentation alongside some amazing vocalistsis, is now available on Itunes, Amazon, and Sony Digital.