Ms. Yarbrough, a multi-talented veteran of theater, film, dance, and song is, like her article-mates, enjoying a renewed interest in her career. Much of that attention is generated by the 2000 re-release of her spoken word CD
“The Iron Pot Cooker” (Vanguard Records). One of the songs from that album (“Take Yo’ Praise”) was covered by British DJ Fatboy Slim. His international hit “Praise You” has since been heard in hit movies, Mercedes Benz and Wimbledon commercials, and several television shows for the past two years. Amazingly, “The Iron Pot Cooker” which was originally released in 1975, was Ms. Yarbrough’s first and only recording.
In a Spin Magazine review, Yarbrough was dubbed “a hip hop foremother.” Some know Camille as the author of the children’s classic book “Cornrows;” some know her as a spoken word artist/performer from the Black Arts Movement; others will remember her from her dance days with the esteemed Katherine Dunham Dance Company, where she was a member of the for five years and taught Dunham technique at Southern Illinois University; and still others will remember her from the original movie Shaft or any number of the television shows she’s done.
Whatever the genre, all will recognize her commitment to preserving African and African American culture. Ms. Yarbrough is available for general lectures and speaking engagements during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and National Poetry Month.
In 1994, Camille Yarbrough was enstooled by Abladei, Inc. (Ghanian) as Naa Kuokor Agyman 1, founder of the Stool House of Harriet Tubman. Ms. Yarbrough has received numerous awards, including the Unity Award in Media from Lincoln University in Missouri, the Jazz/Folk/Ethnic Performance Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts; Ida B. Wels award from the United African Movement; and Women of the Month Award from Essence Magazine.
Sankofa Camille Yarbrough has had distinguished careers as community activist, writer, teacher, actress, composer, singer, dancer, radio talk show host, and lecturer. She was most recently presented by:
- ASCAC (The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations)
- THE NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH (The Journey of the Griots-Souls: Unsold)
- KEAN COLLEGE (Misuse of the African Image in the Media)
- THE BLACK CAUCUS of the AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
- THE NATIONAL BLACK CHILD DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE
- KUNTU WRITERS WORKSHOP – DEPT. OF AFRICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
- OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP” – Atlantic Recording Group
- PAN-AFRICAN BOOKFEST and CULTURAL CONFERENCE – Florida International University
- THE FIRST WORLD LECTURE SERIES
- UNITED AFRICAN MOVEMENT
- THE NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK
- CEMOTAP (Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People)
CAMILLE YARBROUGH was a faculty member of the BLACK STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK for twelve years and has contributed articles to the “JOURNAL OF AFRICAN CIVILIZATIONS”, editor Ivan Van Sertima, to “BLACK COLLEGIAN MAGAZINE” and to the “NEW YORK TIMES” Drama Section.
VANGUARD RECORDS RECORDED CAMILLE YARBROUGH’S first album of original songs and poetry, “THE IRON POT COOKER” and her work as an actress can be heard on the cast album of Lorraine Hansberry’s Play, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”.
Workshop: Writing Children’s Book
(Nana Camille Yarborough’s song “Tell it” plays.) That’s what we’re here to do today. ‘Tell it!’ I think I see Black Rose sitting out there. Yes, I do. First I want to thank Ausar Auset and I want to thank the Shekhem Ur Shekhem for thinking of (Black Writers’ Conference and ) this, for realizing that it’s necessary for us to come, every once in a while, to get recharged, and bringing together those people who use the word is so important. We can have images and you see I’m bringing images to you today also. But that word was with God: is that right? And the word spoke the thoughts and the spirit of the great Creator, and before we go any further, again I want to thank Ausar Auset.
Thank yourselves. Thank yourselves for being here, for being aware, for being conscious, for loving. As I frequently say our great ones loved us more than they loved themselves. You understand that. Just think about it. All of those who have helped us to come this far, they could have stopped. They could have been paid off. They could have gotten weak and said ‘No, I’m not doing that anymore,” but they didn’t. Many of them paid the price with their lives, and with their fortunes and with their families, but those are our Ancestors. Hey, and if those are our Ancestors, who are we? If those strong people are our mothers, and great, great greats, who are we? We are as strong, too. So, I want to thank you Shekhem, the honorable, and I want to thank you people too, (the audience)!
I wrote this book and I’m going to tell you how I got to write children’s books. It’s called “The Little Tree Growing in the Shade.” The little tree growing in the shade of a big tree would not get sunlight, would not get the proper nourishment, but we were the little tree. What did we do? Did we give up? No, we did not! It’s because of our spirit: because when we had nothing, didn’t own ourselves to this world, our spirit says ‘Can’t let no young monkey stop the show!’ And we continued on: we wrote music and said words in such a way that the rest of the world that saw us in this position of enslavement said ‘These people can’t be brutes. Look at the music they create. Look at the words they’re saying. Look at the hope, they’re giving to us.’ When America was in trouble, they went to us: they went to our culture. They went to our song, our blues, our dance and that’s spirit work. That’s all we had was spirit, and yet we survived the worse kind of enslavement that was ever put on this world. Look at yourself: your spirit’s walking, your spirit’s talking, your spirit’s reviving yourselves…for more information see the Conference Preceedings.