Nioka Workman is among an active force of innovative cellists forging new frontiers for string players. Drawing on the “genius” of celebrated bassists and family members, uncle Arthur Harper and father, Reggie Workman, Nioka has a developed a powerful, original style of her own.
“My Heart is in analyzing sound, music and concepts and how things are structured.”
And so it is with this music “deconstructionist.” Versed in many forms, Nioka’s multi-disciplinary approach has afforded her credits with leading artists in music, dance, performance art, theater and television. Her credits include R& B collaborations with India Arie and Joe; Hip-Hop collabs and extensive tours with Spoken-Word artist, Saul Williams; Singers J.D. Walters, Helga Davis and gracing the stage with such music illuminaries as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Common at the Pepsi Smash Festival.
Constantly seeking new challenges, Nioka often works with conceptualists and performance artists. Her credits include solos with the Uptown String Quartet at the Kennedy Center , multi- instrumentalist Kali Z, Cooper Moore’s Keyboard Project at the Son D’Hiver Festival 2008; Hemisphere by conceptualist Anthony Davis. Jazz performances with Avery Brooks/Craig Harris (Harlem Gatehouse), Cassandra Wilson and Greg Osby.
Nioka primarily performs as a soloist but isn’t afraid to step out as a leader.
Her new band, a fusion of jazz/funk and beyond, has recently exploded onto the scene, displaying her organized to “out of control” style of music making. On the string front, Nioka founded the Firey String Company, a string collective that defies any traditional notion of strings.
An ongoing affair…
Besides her love of music, Nioka also has an ongoing love affair with dance and movement. In addition to her work with choreographer Leslie Parker, her passion has lead to various commissions of her work by numerous dance companies including Alvin Ailey collaborations with Michael Wimberly and solos with the Errol Grimes Dance Company. Her work has premiered at such tony venues as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors the Rush
Arts Gallery and Blue Heron Theater. Her work on Woomen, a work based on women and rituals by dancer/choreographer, Marlies Yearby has lead to the co-founding of Woomen Moves by Nioka and Yearby. The company designed to provide self-empowering workshops and retreats for women is evolving towards a practice of healing workshops through sound and movement.
To whom so much is given…
Overall, Nioka’s passion for the cello and it’s evolution keeps her busy extending into the future. Nioka Workman is “passing the baton” to the next generation with Loft Arts Productions, an artist residency programs. The piece that NIoka will be doing is called ‘Walls’, which are excerpts from ‘Diary of a Wild Chile’.
Working with Nioka:
Leslie Parker: Leslie Parker is a freelance dance performer, choreographer and teaching artist holding a B.F.A in modern dance & choreography from Esther Boyer’s College of Music and Dance at Temple University. She has studied extensively under master dance instructors from Senegal, Guinea, Ghana, and Ivory Coast, and has apprenticed with Urban Bush Woman, performed with Danny Diallo’s Sundance Multiple Performing Arts Co., Patrica Brown’s Spirit of Ase Collective, Morris Johnson’s Dancers and Drummers of Langa, Professor Nii Yartey of Ghana University, Kariamu and Company: Traditions, as a guest artist with TU Dance’s Summer Intensive, Tania Issac Dance, Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group, Ron Brown’s Evidence, and Chuck Davis’ African American Dance Ensemble. She has choreographed & danced original works for Laurie Carlos, Nioka Workman, Aimee K. Bryant, and Jose James, and performs and collaborates regularly with Nia Love’s Blacksmith’s Daugher Dance Co. Her choreography was selected for BalaSole Dance Company’s Fall concert at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC) and has been presented by WOW Cafe’ Theater (NYC), Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (NYC), The Painted Bride Arts Center(PA), The Women’s Roseville Correctional Facility (MN), Patrick’s Cabaret (MN), Penumbra Theater’s “Late Nite Series” (MN), and Diaspora’s Flow “Hip Hop Theater Nightmares of JuJube” (MN). Leslie is a teaching artist for Learning Through An Expanded Arts Program (NYC), Bailey’s Cafe (NYC), Penumbra Theater’s Summer Institute (MN) and has led workshops & residencies in dance for the St. Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, Carleton College, University of Minnesota and various organizations throughout the nation.
Hui Cox: Multi-instrumentalist performs on electric, acoustic, classical, and MIDIed 7-string guitars; mandolin; and acoustic and electric basses. He has worked with such greats as Cab Calloway, Odetta, Liza Minnelli, Melba Moore, Wilson Pickett, Stanley Turrentine, Richie Havens (as composer and producer), Digable Planets, The Temptations, and The Four Tops. A recipient of two grants for composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hui has produced music for Walt Disney Productions and has had a top 100 CashBox Hit on the country charts. He was also nominated for a Grammy for his production of Babatunde Olatunji’s album, “Love Drum Talk.” Mr. Cox has performed as electric guitarist with the Baltimore Symphony, and currently is composer-in-residence with the Tacoma City Ballet in Washington.