Poet Laureate Releases Book, Journal and Album Project Featuring Grammy-Nominated Musician
Baxter, an accomplished jazz drummer who has toured with the legendary Freddy Cole, was nominated for two Grammys for his work with Rene Marie. He is a member of the chart-topping jazz band Ranky Tanky.
Marcus Amaker was appointed Charleston, South Carolina's first poet laureate in 2016 and was chosen to help the city heal the wounds of the racist massacre at Emanuel AME Church, where nine people were killed in 2015.
Through his gifts of graphic design, poetry and spoken word, Amaker crafted empath as a definitive statement on empathy, forgiveness, history and conversation. The empath book is a 185-page pocket-sized poetry collection designed by Amaker and features handwritten poems, family photos and artwork.
The album version of empath was recorded in Charleston, SC by Amaker and Baxter. Despite Baxter's tour schedule, the two found time to create what they both consider a "masterwork." Their close friendship fueled the poems, adding musical touches to Amaker's fluid poetry.
The music, produced by Baxter, was inspired by Gullah rhythms and progressive jazz. The album is the second collaborative musical endeavor for the two. The full-length release features spoken word and jazz interpretations of the poems from the book. CDs are available now and the vinyl version will debut during poetry and jazz month in April.
During a Jan. 19, interview with Charleston's Post and Courier Amaker shared, "Poetry, in particular, is seen as a stagnant art form, but it can be presented in a lot of different ways."
Sparked by his work with Charleston-area middle and high school students, Amaker designed a custom blank journal to accompany the empath project. "I hope the journal inspires students of all ages to write," he said.
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