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This event was part of Creating Space

Strange Fruit: A Sounding Board For Life, Death, & Justice

Let the music tell the story. Join us for this journey through the cultural dimensions of Black life and culture and its undeniable effect on society today.

Billie Holiday stunned everyone when she sang about "strange fruit hanging from the trees." How incredible it was for her to sing about Black men and women who had been lynched in the south for centuries. This was the norm then. And there is a new norm now, though the outcomes are unfortunately the same. And if you pay close attention, you will hear the pain, the cries, and sorrow of a community that can’t seem to stop grieving…….it's all in the music.

Strange Fruit focuses on the impact of Black American music (West African griot music, spirituals, blues, jazz, Black symphonic and concert music, gospel, R&B, soul, free jazz, funk, and hip-hop) and its predictive, reflective, and often eerie depiction of Black life and death over time.

This experience--facilitated by musicians Ali Sharif, Latoya Cooper, and Stephanie Rivers--will examine the impact, implications, effects, and rich meanings of these musical expressions to inspire us to action, instill greater empathy in our hearts, all the while considering the social, economic, and political struggles that have consumed Black and brown people with grief.

This event is part of TABLE TALK, a four-part series created by and for people of color and other underrepresented communities to inspire better living, ensure greater equity in end-of-life care, and celebrate our contributions to the world. We invite people of all backgrounds to join us to witness, listen, and learn, but ultimately, we are creating space for these communities to thrive, educate, and spread love to their peers, families, and friends.


Latoya Cooper | Latoya, also known as ”The Songstress”, is CEO of Music Meets the Boardroom, LLC. A successful self sustained business woman sought after by music industry channels for her expertise and fresh direct approach, Latoya has spent the past decade in the project management space and holds a Master’s of Business Administration. She is an accomplished recording and touring artist and entrepreneuress and has been featured on Latoya utilizes her extensive know-how to guide her clients through the launch and execution phase of their music career, ultimately shifting their business model from surviving to thriving.

Stephanie Rivers | Stephanie is Reimagine’s Sr. Director of Development and an accomplished musician, recording artist and nonprofit management professional. Known for building fundraising programs from the ground up and taking stagnant organizations to the next level, Stephanie's passion for the arts and commitment to nonprofit fundraising, marketing, and program development is what brought her to Reimagine 8 months ago, as its first ever development director in the organization's history. Stephanie’s 16 year career in philanthropy was spent with many notable organizations, including Helen Keller International and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Stephanie received her BA in Communication from the University of Oklahoma, as well as a Certificate in Fundraising Leadership from Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is working towards obtaining CFRE credentials in 2020.

Ali Sharif | Ali is currently a product director at TuneCore, the nation's largest independent music distributor. Ali is a communications professional with over 25 years of experience providing product and communication solutions for some of the top national and international brands. His unique artistic and communication skills set him apart as an effective change management agent.

Be part of the change. Listen to learn to live better through music.


Talk, Panel, & Conversation Music & Sound Storytelling Writing & Literature Mourning into Unity
Social Justice & Race