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Dr. Robert J. Woodbine grew up in Harlem and the South Bronx amidst the social and economic upheaval of the 1960s. The glaring inequities he experienced between the devastation of heroin’s affects in the black and Hispanic community and the relatively opulent lifestyles he witnessed while attending the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut created an intense need to creatively express the resultant frustration, anger, and pain he wrestled with.
During this period, his father introduced him to LeRoi Jones’ The Dead Lecturer. Along with reading Jean Toomer’s Cane, the works of e. e. cummings, and listening to avant-garde jazz, he felt unshackled from the traditional writing constraints he learned in high school and began giving fledgling expression to his creative voice.
In 1971, Dr. Woodbine was a member of Sonia Sanchez’ year-long Writers Workshop at the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem and was published (under the pseudonym of Ntigurd-Nensad N’Sabe) in her anthology, 360 Degrees of Blackness Coming At You. During that year, he wrote and performed his work throughout New York: in Mt. Morris Park with musicians Sam Rivers and Gary Bartz, at The East (Cultural and Education Center) with Lee Morgan, in local bars and churches, Rutgers University, and other venues.
While attending college in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the early 1970s, he was mentored by Roxbury’s renown jazz musician and poet, Robert Ruff. Ruff introduced him to the music of Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, and Little Jimmy Scott. He, his roommate Prentiss Taylor, and Ruff performed on local Boston TV and radio and, as Co-Director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Afro-American Cultural Center, Dr. Woodbine was instrumental in bringing performers like Gylan Kain and the Last Poets to the university.
Most recently, he co-authored, Sun Chasers-a novel, with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and wrote the Foreword to The Dao De Jing-A Qigong Interpretation, by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. In addition to his creative writing, Dr. Woodbine has studied vocal overtoning and throat singing with a variety of teachers: Nestor Kornbloom, Fabian Maman, David Hykes, members of Huun-Huur-Tu, and Rollin Rachelle. He also plays the Australian Yidaki (Didgiridoo) and Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls.
Dr. Woodbine fervently believes that performing what is written can transform and elevate peoples' lives. When consciously aligned with one’s Spirit, words have power. He is a current member of the historic Harlem Writers Guild.
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