THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JESSICA CARE MOORE

By Antisia King


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jessica Care moore (She purposely uses lowercase first and last name in tribute to late womanist author, bell hooks.) is a proud Detroiter and Detroit is where she still calls home, where she’s here raising her 15-year old emerging artist/son, King, among other things.. She captivated a national television audience in the 90's when she won the legendary “It’s Showtime at the Apollo”competition a record breaking five times in a row.

jessica is a renaissance woman in every way, as Executive Producer and Founder of the 18-year old rock & roll concert and empowerment weekend Daughters of Betty powered by Black WOMEN Rock! She’s also is a strong believer in building institutions around art.

She is an educator and strong advocate for youth and women's voices. She has been called by many, "The voice of Detroit." She penned and voiced the award-winning Detroit anthem, "Move Here, Move the World,” She has written commissioned work for Visit Detroit; Ford’s Michigan Central Station; NEIdeas; The Skillman Foundation; The Henry Ford Museum; Strategic Community Partners, and many others.

She is the 2013 Alain Locke Awardee; 2015 NAACP Great Expectation Award; 2016 Kresge Art Fellow; 2017 Knight Arts Recipient; 2018 Joyce Award Winner, 2019 Knight Arts Recipient and, was appointed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Council for Arts and Culture.

Her work has graced the stages of The Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the London Institute of Contemporary Arts. Her critically acclaimed jazz soul album, Black Tea - The Legend of Jessi James was released by emcee, Talib Kweli's Javotti Media Label.

In 1997 while living in Brooklyn she created moore Black Press Publishing and published works by her peers, Saul Williams, Asha Bandele, Danny Simmons, and Newark Mayor and Poet Ras Baraka among others.

moore is accomplished author in her own right, her works include The Words Don’t Fit in My Mouth; The Alphabet Verses the Ghetto; God is Not an American and Sunlight Through Bullet Holes (moore Black Press).

Her fifth book, "We Want Our Bodies Back” was published by Harper Collins in March of 2020. Her full-scale theatrical work, Salt City, (An Afrofuturistic Techno Choreopoem) premiered in Detroit in 2019 and will premiere at The Apollo Theater in 2023.

She’s your favorite's emcee's favorite poet, she has recorded her poetry with Common; Nas; Jeezy; Talib Kweli; 9th Wonder; Karriem Riggins; Wordsworth; Elzhi; Valid; The Last Poets; Ursula Rucker; Jose James; Roy Ayers to name a few.

She's read her work and leant her powerful voice to many causes all over the world including the United Nations World Aids Day; Shanghai’s Iron Mic Music Festival; Berlin International Poetry Festival; Flupp International Literary Festival in Brazil and was honored to perform at the first Afrochella Festival in Ghana during the year of the return.

Her poetry and voice are prominently featured on the 4th floor of the Smithsonian’s New National Museum of African American History.

Her poem, "Her Crown Shines” celebrating the appointment of Kentanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court recently caught the ear of Oprah Winfrey, who wrote about the poem on social media and later shared it on Oprah Daily.

During the pandemic, she joined forces with Detroit Techno legends Jeff Mills and Eddie Fowlkes to form "The Beneficiaries" and recorded the "The Crystal City is Alive" music project on vinyl.

She is currently in the studio with powerful rock singer and performer Steffanie Christ'ian recording her sophomore album.

So, as you can see jessica is a very busy Woman, I recently got a chance to speak with her, here’s a bit of our conversation:


BMM: Hello jessica, thank you for your time.


BMM: At what age did you realized your love for poetry?

JCM: At the age of ten, I was avid reader, my mom kept lots of books around. Some of the first poets that I read were, Alice Walker, Mya Angelou, one of my favorite book was To be young gifted and black, by Lorraine Hansberry. In my high school years, I discovered a love for Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Dudley Randally, Jayne Cortez, and Amiri baraka, and this is what lead me to writing. But it all started when I was ten.

BMM: How would you describe your style of poetry?

JCM: Every poem that I write is different, my friend Greg Tate called my voice a black scream. When I was younger, my style was rapid fire, but my pacing changed when I wrote my first jazz soul record, and at that time I gave into the music more.

My poems’ sound and energy change based on the subject matter. I write about everything, I love my people especially and I celebrate us, especially black women, I just like to write raw authentic, I want to connect with people through my art in ways I can't do with everyday conversation. I’m a revolutionary voice, always a black voice, a feminine voice and it's all love.

BMM: who are your top five favorite poets and why do you like them?

JCM: I love so many poets. Ntozake Shange; Nikky Finney; Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez; Gil Scott Heron. I am heavily influenced by the Black Arts Movement writers. I loved Gil and his approach to poetry and music. My album Black Tea was completely inspired by him. I know he would've loved those poems/ songs.

Ntozake is my spirit animal, her work is so gangsta, so honest, she puts her heart in her writing, the same way I do fearless and vulnerable.

Nikky Finney is one of my favorite contemporary poets - her lines are just viscerale. She inspires me to keep writing and developing. If you get too comfortable it takes the edge off.

I remember working with Nas in the studio and he said my poems reminded him of his writing before the fame. I've seen poems bring people to tears, change lives, transform rooms nothing changes that if your heart is with the people.

Sonia Sanchez, I'm honored to call her a friend, sister, mentor. She means the world to me. She gives so much to the culture and her love for our people is relentless. We need to celebrate her more. Amiri Baraka was a close mentor, friend. He was a master teacher, scholar, like Sonia. He was about lifting up the black canon, and he called my name when others did not. I love and miss him. I'm a torch bearer, and I am aware of this responsibility. I have work to do. Poets are not just writers. We are organizers, activists, scholars, curators, emcees and yeah, rock stars:)




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BMM: How has Detroit shaped your work?

JCM: Detroit has shaped me as a women and poet, in 1995 when I moved to Brooklyn, I brought all that Detroit hustle, grind and black institution building energy with me. I had a foundation that was rooted in my culture and I represented my city well, and you knew it when I touch the mic or if you read my work, it’s clear Detroit is where I found my artist voice.

BMM: Whats next for you?

JCM: I just wrote and produced my first feature film, He Looked Like A Postcard. Qasim Basir directed it, and I believed in the script from the beginning. I did the lead role, which I was NOT planning to do, and my co-star is the brilliant and beautiful Tobias Truvillion. It's a self love story about an artist and single mom coming home to find her voice again, and she meets a prominent muralist in the city. It's a love letter to my city. So, films are in my future. I'm directing my first documentary film, Daughters of Betty- Powered by Black Women Rock! I want to tell the stories of these incredible black women rock artists I bring together to showcase contemporary black women rock and roll artists.

This year, i've joined forces with one of my favorite vocalists Steffanie Chris'tian and we are releasing our first collaborative record, Rock and Roll Nigga. It's black rock, it's poetry, It's sexy, it's political..it's fire. I cannot wait for this record to drop. We're doing a free afternoon concert July 24th on the lawn of the DIA with Concert of Colors, can't wait!

I’m also working on my 6th collection of poems, that I just landed a really exciting children's book deal featuring my poem, Her Crown Shines. I wrote the poem to celebrate our new supreme court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Oprah graciously shared the poem to her followers on social media after we were on a zoom call with the Win with Black Women group.


As you can see jessica lives in a world full of love and art and she’s Detroit Girl to the core. She can be found on Instagram at jessica Care moore