May 23rd, 2012—The "Raising Consciousness and Healing Through Words" Lowertown Reading Jam will be presented on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 from 7 to 8.30 p.m. at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul. This presentation of the popular and eclectic series, curated by Sheronda Orridge, features performances by Akeeylah Watkins, Angel Myatt, Monique Crusoe, Karyssa Jackson, Kashimana, Dianne Moore, and Fanond Burnett.

We live in the information age of the World Wide Web, social networking, text messages, You Tube and e-mails. With all of the new ways of communicating, we are disconnected from each other more than ever. It is time to get back to the basics of communicating and expression through singing, storytelling, and spoken word. Writing and performing is healing to the soul and spirit. It is one of the simplest and least expensive ways of therapy as well as a way of teaching and reflecting on lessons learned.

SHERONDA ORRIDGE is the owner and operator of Loving Spirit Life Coach Academy LLC, a life coach for the Network for Better Futures, a writer, a spoken word artist, and a community organizer. She holds a variety of certifications including doula (birth coach), life coach trainer, and facilitator. She is the host of Loving Our Life, aired on SPNN. Sheronda holds two bachelor’s degrees in Metaphysical Theology and Metaphysical Science, and is currently enrolled in the University of Sedona pursuing her master's in Metaphysical Science and a degree to become Doctor of Holistic Life Coaching. In 2012 Sheronda received the Community Honor Roll Award, a parenting award, and a Black History organizational award. Sheronda’s philosophy—in organizing and in life—is that there are many ways to get to the vision of healthy communities, and we must explore them all.

AKEEYLAH WATKINS has been performing since the age of five. She was enrolled in St. Joseph’s School of Music for voice lessons and performed in City Songs two years in a row, where she got a chance to sing on two CDs. Akeeylah was on a dance and step team at the age of six, performing at Rondo Days and traveling to compete in Iowa and Oklahoma. Akeeylah is a part of Ujima—a teen pregnancy prevention program, where she is learning about leadership, healthy relationships, the role of sex and sexuality, and resume writing and interview skills.

ANGEL MYATT is a young woman full of life, positive energy and self-proclaimed royalty! In the arena of life coaching, Angel has chosen to focus on the fields of self-love, self-respect, self-acceptance, and self-improvement. At the age of twenty, Saint Paul Public Housing handpicked and sponsored Angel to participate in Wilder Foundation's Neighborhood Leadership Program. In 2011, she graduated from SPEAC, a community organizing program of Hope Community. She now sits on SPEAC’s advisory board. In 2011, Angel became a Certified Life Coach through Loving Spirit Life Coach Academy.

MONIQUE L. CRUSOE, better known as Ms. Nique, was born and raised in Chicago. A single mother, poet, and writer living in Savage, Minnesota, she has written poetry for over fifteen years and has published in several circulations including some neighborhood newsletters, ultimately publishing The Definition of Me: Poetry Written by a Novelist, a book of poems.

KARYSSA JACKSON grew up with a deep passion for the performing arts—spoken word, theater, and dance. While still in high school, Karyssa became involved in a leadership training program that provided her with an opportunity to work with youth and the arts. She assisted with planning the Rondo Community Outreach Library's first tutoring program. After high school, Karyssa attended Bethel University and also participated in a program to help encourage youth to pursue post-secondary education.

KASHIMANA (Kash) is a Saint Paul-based singer/songwriter who hails from Nigeria.

FANOND BURNETT was born in Gary, Indiana. At the age of eleven, he began working as a cashier in his father’s record store, where he discovered a passion for music.

DIANNE E'LANE MOORE is the owner and operator of Locks on Wheels. Dianne has been a creative maven all of her life, possessing many talents and weaving them together to live her life’s purpose—she sings and writes songs, draws, styles hair, and works as a school teacher and Zumba instructor.

The Saint Paul Almanac is a literary organization that creates opportunities for understanding, learning, and building relationships through sharing people's stories. Now in its seventh edition, the Saint Paul Almanac book features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. Available in full color with gorgeous, hand-drawn, poster-size, pull-out maps of the City of Saint Paul and Downtown! Visit for more information.

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