- Artist Statement
“Nioka Workman’s sound is delicate yet confident, ethereal yet robust, as she saunters from sensual soul to improvisational jazz……” City Guide NYC. Jun. 2009
My first encounters with music occurred in my father’s studio where I experimented with the cello, bass, violin, piano, dance and finally settled on cello. Dance was my first love but I was called to the magnificent voice of this instrument and it’s infinite possibilities. I work with both acoustic and electric cellos, both “beast” demanding separate attention. My projects for the last ten years have involved an exploration of new technology, vocals, text, cultural, historical information, healing modalities and movement.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi
As a young player, I looked forward to joining some of the great Jazz workshops given by the New Muse, or by artist Makanda Ken McIntyre, WIS and Barry Harris. With this idea in mind, in 2011, I formed the Firey Strings Company (FSCO) to create nurturing environments for improvising string players, particularly for female artists to learn skills, create new music and network. Summer 2014, will mark our fourth year of providing string workshops for improvisers. We have a monthly string improviser series with an exciting line-up of artists from around the world. We look forward to growing this list and our audience. The Radiance Festival, began as a culminating activity from FSCO’s summer workshops. It has organically transformed into a fantastic way to bring artist together with the community. The 2014 festival, "A Presentation to Young Artist", was located at the Manna House Workshops in East Harlem. FSCO is the home of my working Jazz Chamber ensemble, Firey String Sistas! We have a yearly season. As founder and artistic director of a smaller organization than Loft Arts Productions, I have learned how to respect all of the various “fiery” personalities, visions, ideas and learn new ways to organically combine them without compromising individuality. I am enjoying learning all aspects of my executive duties. I am passionate about creating opportunities for new voices, and dynamic artists in the USA and internationally.
“More and more my art is paralleling life and naturally leading to activism…”
I am a cellist, composer and producer. I enjoy constructing and deconstructing sound, music. It is important to me to study the root, spirit of music, history, sound, culture and to create an individual voice. I am heavily influenced by the Jazz culture that I was surrounded with. I also respect the other masters of soul, funk and R&B. I love to be given a "paint brush" and an invitation to create... with or without boundaries. It is thrilling to work with and collaborate with visionary artists who are committed to presenting their point of view, real, raw, with respect, particularly if the art represents a point of view that others are unable to express. I love creating art that can be used as a vehicle for conversation. One visionary choreographer that I've worked with for many years is Marlies Yearby. Her piece called ‘Woomen’, a multimedia work that depicts the rituals, stories of women has led to healing meditations, movement and sound workshops for women. Our work will continue to evolve. It is my goal to connect with collaborators like Marlies and to audiences, paying tribute to our mentors, ancestors and create concrete memories for the next generation.
I am creating a library through the Firey Strings Company. An exciting part of this work is my dance theater piece, Her Reflections, stories of iconic women in history, revisited by theater director Marcus Dargan from NuAFrikan Theater Company.
Photo Credits: Marek Lazarski