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A Conversation with Orlando Watson | Hosted by Daniel Gray-Kontar
About Orlando Watson
Cleveland, Ohio native Orlando Watson has established himself as a preeminent lyricist who’s soulful, baritone voice is known to weave through words with uncanny rhythmic delivery. In 2015, Watson was awarded the prestigious “KenteCloth” by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Ohio State University alongside acclaimed political commentator, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Watson's 2017 début EP (Everything’s Personal) peaked at #18 on iTunes R&B/Soul charts, which led him to open for Lalah Hathaway and Chantae Cann’s respective tours in 2018.
Watson has recorded with Latin Grammy award winner Linda Briceño, John Clayton, Dominick Farinacci, Braxton Cook,Damien Sneed, and Bobby Sparks II of Snarky Puppy to name a few. His knack for storytelling led him to co-write Terence Blanchard's “Our Voices: Democracy Revisited” suite, which was live-streamed on NPR’s “Jazz Night in America” hosted by acclaimed bassist Christian McBride. Watson was selected as one of the top 8 national finalists to compete at the 2019 “Jazz in the Gardens” poetry slam in Miami, Florida. His poetry has been published in Linden Avenue Literary Journal as well as Five 2 One Magazine and he currently serves as the Associate Director for the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, Ohio.
About Daniel Gray-Kontar
Gray-Kontar is the founder and Executive Artistic Director of Twelve Literary Arts and has worked as an advocate for social transformation in the city of Cleveland for more than 25 years. Gray-Kontar is an education consultant for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the former chair of the Literary Arts Department at the Cleveland School of the Arts; and a former graduate school fellow at UC Berkeley’s College of Education. His work in arts education has been showcased on PBS Newshour, The UK Guardian, NPR, and the Christian Science Monitor.
Gray-Kontar has lectured at universities, public schools, arts organizations and scholarly conferences across the US. His Ted Talk discussing youth leadership in public school education has affected the ways public school administrators think about the inclusion of youth and their families in the process of re-making school cultures and curricula. He is the proud father of his daughter Paloma Manning-Gray.