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Shelton Alexander, professionally known as “African American Shakespear” or simply "Shake", has been on the spoken word scene since August 2001, when he debuted his first poem entitled, "Patience". He has gone on to achieve countless accomplishments within spoken word, including leading out the New Orleans National Slam Team, winning and receiving the title of Grand Slam Champion of New Orleans for 2005, and gracing the world with his presence on the infamous HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam (see performance credits for full listing). As a spoken word artist, poet, writer, author and motivational speaker, Shake thrives on inspiring people with his soul filled words and his spirit wrenching performances.
Shelton’s background as a college athlete and former Marine makes him a man who has experienced life at many levels; in turn, God has blessed him with the talent and power to shine, overcome, and uplift, which is exactly what Shake did in August, 2005. During the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, Shelton, along with 18 others, was able to flee from the Superdome in his Ford truck before people began succumbing to the devastating hardships that resulted from mass starvation and dehydration. Critically acclaimed director Spike Lee chose to feature Shake’s story and his heart stirring poetry in the Emmy award winning HBO documentary WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: a requiem in four acts. Spike was so touched by Shake’s resilience and genuine love for his community that he selected Shake to appear on his prime time special on New Orleans, which aired on national television during the New Orleans Saints game on ESPN, September 24, 2007.
Shake’s leadership throughout the Katrina horror was no new phenomenon. Shake has always been a mover; and it’s no surprise he continues to be a part of the “movement”. As thousands of people made the choice to board buses headed for Jena, LA, Shake got in his truck and drove out to join the masses who refuse to stand idly by and watch injustices unfold and be upheld. At the march in support of the Jena 6, Shake “shook” the crowd and the entire nation while speaking on the nationally broadcast “Ricky Smiley Morning Show”. Shake reminded the audience of his experiences during Katrina and went on to tell of his connection to Jena, and how he frequented the city while in college. He proclaimed that like those that were there for him and the residents of New Orleans, so he too must be there to stand with the Jena 6 and all those who are dehumanized and oppressed based on their race, gender, and class. Shake’s rendition of his poem “Will You Be There” invoked the presence of the Ancestors who marched before us, and motivated the crowd to chant and shout aloud with pride, unity and love.
Poetry is Shake’s way of releasing energy to help others as well as himself. You'll never find him using his gift negatively against another poet or anyone else. To him poetry is a way of life and he holds it dearly and cherishes each opportunity to express and share. Shake’s passion for poetry, life, his mother, the kids, and the pride he takes in his craft are evidenced as soon as he imparts his words. That's why he calls himself the "African American Shakespear," because poetry is the expression of life and who expressed it better than Sir William himself.