Of Cuban-Jamaican descent, Aja Monet is an internationally established poet, performer, singer, songwriter, educator, and human rights advocate. In Monet’s poetry and songs, she poses questions about the power of the imagination and metaphor in how we engage with local and global issues. As a Teaching Artist for Urban Word NYC as well as Urban Arts Partnership in NYC, she uses poetry as a therapeutic tool with at-risk inner city kids, showing how words can empower and encourage holistic healing in youth education.
In 2014, she was awarded the YWCA of the City of New York’s “One to Watch Award” — an award established in honor of Monet’s work to honor women under the age of 30 who exemplify the mission of the organization: to empower women and eliminate racism. Monet volunteers with Justice League NYC, a coalition working on juvenile justice to end police violence both in New York City and nationally. In one of her many speaking appearances, she addressed the Cook County Commissioners of Illinois, performed for elected officials, and visited numerous youth institutions, developing voices as an alternative to violence. In 2015, she traveled to Palestine on a solidarity trip with the Dream Defenders where U.S. activists from across the nation met with Palestinian activists and artists to share, create, and learn.
The youngest individual to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title — at the age of 19 — she is recognized for combining her spellbound voice and powerful imagery on stage, captivating audiences in the United States, France, the UK, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Cuba. She has showcased at world-renowned venues including New York City’s Town Hall Theater and Apollo Theater, and the Paradiso in Amsterdam. By request of the UN Youth Delegates, she has performed for ambassadors, national politicians, diplomats, and directors of various agencies at the United Nations, and she performed at the NAACP’s Barack Obama Inaugural event in Washington DC.
Aja Monet’s has two books of poetry. Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers (June 2015) is a music and EBook collection, a testimony to family and self, memory, loss and remembrance, home and the journey away from home to find one’s self — and to build a stronger community. The Black Unicorn Sings was independently published in 2010. In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on a book titled, Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, published by MTV Books/Simon & Schuster.
As a musician, in 2014 Monet released “Courage,” an EP on MassAppeal.com inspired by Maya Angelou’s discussion of the virtue. Her first compilation of music and poetry, Scared to Make Love/Scared Not To, is a social commentary on the discussion of love. She has opened for Robert Glasper and Talib Kweli for the CELEBRATE BROOKLYN Concert series at the Prospect Park Bandshell stage for over 8,000 people and has performed her music at MASS MoCA.