Jabari Exum is an electrifying performing artist born and raised in Washington, DC. He is a skilled percussionist in the West African / Latin tradition and is a prolific writer and performer of Hip-Hop music. Since 1997 Exum has also been a pioneering artist in a movement called “Hip-Hop Theater.” Exum’s approach to everything that he touches is unique and unconventional, since he is able to pull from so many different sources. He has been acting, drumming, and rapping since he was two years old and has been blessed with the opportunities to receive guidance from some of the greats across many fields of creative study. A few of his mentors have been: Debbie Allen, Chadwick Boseman, Reggie and Roy Wooten, Mamady Keita, Grady Tate, Djimo Kouyate, KRS-One, Sonya Sanchez, Glen Turner, Chucky Thompson, Bill Summers, Leon Mobley, Rickie Byars Beckwith, Robert Nothern, Mamadi Nyasuma, Baba Barnett, and Marc Cary.
Most recently Exum choreographed dance and drumming for the movie Black Panther and co-starred in two music videos with the critically acclaimed rapper, Common. He is a percussion teacher, writing coach, and a full time musician and song writer, working with artists such as Chadwick Boseman, Son Little, Raheem DeVaughn , Dead Prez, Poor Righteous Teachers, Dr. Cornel West and The Cornel West Theory, Larry Mitchell, Tarus Mateen, Mark Cary, Maimouna Youssef, Asheru, HHP of South Africa, Federico Pena, Weedie Braimah, Michael Bowie, Ayanna Gregory, and many more. He is proud product of both the Howard University music program and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
With over 30 years of experience, Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero continues to make musical strides as a groundbreaking beatboxer, vocal percussionist and breath artist who pushes the boundaries of the human voice within and outside the context of Hip Hop music and culture. He currently serves as a musical accompanist and composer in residence for Towson University’s Department of Dance and is the founding director of Embody, A Festival Series of the Vocal Arts, which strives for artistic and cultural convergence through a variety of vocal traditions from the worlds from opera and throat singing to the many forms of vocal percussion.
Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion born within the world of Hip Hop and easily exists as one the most highly advanced vocal art forms to known to humankind. Imitating and often replacing a drum set, drum machine, or drum loop through a series of vocal effects or percussive sounds primarily produced by the larynx, nasal, and oral cavities, Beatboxing exemplifies the Hip Hop philosophy of creating meaningful artistic expressions with limited resources at its most extreme; it replaces the source of the timeless Break Beat with the Human Voice, becoming a ubiquitous feature of the American city experience and soundscape.
In previous years Talifero served as music faculty of the American Dance Festival at Duke University and has served as the chosen musician for a variety of master class experiences led by such luminaries as Ailey II of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Ensemble, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. In his close relationship with the world of dance, he has acquired a wealth of experiences of applying his vocal and rhythmic skills in the movement context of ballet, capoeira, fire movement, belly dancing and a wide range of modern dance techniques pioneered by such legends as Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Lester Horton.
Over the years, Talifero has moved from Beatboxing’s Hip Hop roots to explore innovative and convergent collaborations with a wide range of traditional artists. He serves as the Beatboxer and vocal percussionist for the globally renown Alash, one of the world’s leading Tuvan Throat Singing ensembles, and features on their recent Smithsonian Folkways album release of Achai; has become a recent collaborator with the exquisite Silkroad Ensemble based at Harvard University and founded by legendary cellist Yo Yo Ma; and is serving as the resident Beatboxer and cultural ambassador of the local Baltimore chapter of Classical Revolution.
Talifero has also become more immersed in recent years within the realm of Hip Hop-inspired Science Communication, which includes creating the math and music based course Beatbox Algebra in collaboration with the Homewood Arts Center of Johns Hopkins University; serving as the host for World Voice Day presented by the Johns Hopkins Voice Center; and serving as a panelist and musician for The Neuroscience of Art, a weeklong conference presented by the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria.
Beyond the stage and lights of his work, Talifero also serves as an active board member of the Asian Arts and Culture Center of Towson University and the Baltimore Sister Cities Program of the City of Baltimore’s Office of the Mayor.