Photo: Nana Camille Yarborough | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.
The next show will air on Sunday, July 22, 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with writer, actress, composer and social commentator Nana Camille Yarbrough.
Camille Yarbrough is an award-winning performance artist, author, and cultural activist. With a career that spans over sixty years, several continents, countless awards and accolades, and a few generations, Nana Camille has earned legendary status.
Camille Yarbrough was enstooled in New York by Abladei, Inc. (Ghanaian) as Naa Kuokor Agyman 1, founder of the Stool House of Harriet Tubman and was given the honorary title of “Nana.”
She continues to inspire audiences today via her local, long-running television show of sixteen years (Ancestor House), via her popular musical CD (also entitled Ancestor House), and via performances and lectures focusing on poetry, music, Black art, spirituality, and culture.
Yarbrough’s vision was nourished and became a creative force in her life when she toured as a member of the Katherine Dunham Company of Dancers, Singers, and Musicians. There Nana Camille honed her performance and producing gifts and immersed herself in an independent study of African people throughout the Diaspora.
The world-traveling Chicago native currently resides in New York.
Nana Camille Yarbrough for twelve years was a faculty member at the City College of New York where she taught African dance and the Harlem community courses. As an accomplished theater actress, she co-starred in Lorraine Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted, and Black and did the national tour as a member of the company. Later she recorded the cast album and wrote a half-page article about the show published in the Drama Section of The New York Times. She also did a national tour of Ted Mann’s, Circle in the Square Theater Production of James Weldon Johnson’s play, God’s Trombones, was featured in writer Adrienne Kennedy’s Cities in Bezique at New York’s Public Theater and danced, sang and acted in the Broadway Musical, Kwamina.
For television and film, her credits include soap operas; Where the Heart Is, Search For Tomorrow, Television Special; Soul, CBS Special; Caught in the Middle and Gil Noble’s Like It Is. She also toured in her one-woman show; Tales and Tunes of an African American Griot. In contemporary pop cultural circles, Nana Camille is known as the singer whose song and vocals were sampled on the international mega-hit, “Praise You,” by techno-musician Fatboy Slim. Her first solo musical recording, The Iron Pot Cooker (1975) is where the hit song “Praise You” originated.
In 1979 Camille Yarbrough’s first book an award-winning, groundbreaking family book, Cornrows, (Putnam Publishers) was called “a gem” by Essence magazine was published and later three more books followed: The Shimmershine Queens, (Random House) The Little Tree Growing in the Shade (Putnam Publishers), and Tamika and the Wisdom Rings (Just Us Books). Camille Yarbrough wrote a three-part series “Black Dance In America” 1980-1981 was published by Black Collegian Magazine. “Female Style and Beauty in Ancient Africa: A Photo Essay” was published in The Journal of African Civilization’s Black Women in Antiquity edited by Ivan Van Sertima.
When asked about the relevance of her message for today, she explains: “In the tradition of the African jelimuso/griot, I am charged to do more than share stories, but I must preserve the meaning and beauty of culture. That work transcends time and space”
(Bio adapted from her website.)
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Nana Camille perform “Tell It” in this live clip.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.