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Ursula Rucker

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Biography

Philadelphia, PA, USA

Ursula Rucker (b. Philadelphia, PA, USA), grew-up in Philly, where she graduated Temple University’s journalism program. She is of African-American & Italian descent. She had been writing poetry since adolescence - keeping writings to herself - until she read poetry, in 1994, at Zanzibar Blue, Philadelphia (credited as her début).

That very same year, Rucker was invited to collaborate with numerous recording artists, and producers including King Britt, 4hero, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Josh Wink and most notably The Roots.

Rucker’s garnered a reputation for unique poetry techniques and stage presence which were described as “strong, vulnerable, wounded and raging”. King Britt gave Rucker recognition and invited her to create her first spoken word recording, the 1994 club hit, Supernatural. Dance music fans and DJ’s quickly appreciated Rucker’s vocals and rhythm, which was described as “mystical”. According to Britt, while the original and remixes of Supernatural were continually used in clubs widespread throughout the United States. Internationally, the most popular mix of the song remains the a capella.

Career

Rucker’s emotion in her work and words, has led some critics to compare her to celebrated writers like Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni, describing them as “powerful”. Coincidentally, when Ntozake Shange was unable to supply The Roots with a spoken word contribution for their debut album Do You Want More?!!?!!, they called on Rucker to do it in her stead. The Unlocking led to subsequent invitations to close The Roots follow-up albums Iladelph Halflife and the certified gold record Things Fall Apart.

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