APRIL R. SILVER
Full Narrative Bio
Communications and Marketing Strategist • Cultural Arts Curator
Social Justice Activist • Published Writer and Editor
Founder and CEO of AKILA WORKSONGS
April R. Silver is a nationally respected communications and marketing strategist, cultural arts curator, and community activist. She founded AKILA WORKSONGS in 1993 and has grown it into one of the leading agencies of its kind. She's widely respected for her holistic personal approach to business and for her "communications from the inside out" approach to creating impactful campaigns. For more than 30 years, her esteemed clients have ranged from aspiring artists to multi-national philanthropic foundations.
The native New Yorker has been mentioned or featured in Ms., ESSENCE, EBONY, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Lurie Daniel Favors Show (SiriusXM), Roland Martin Unfiltered (Black Star Network), First Things First with Dominique DiPrima (KBLA Talk Radio), JET, as well as CNN, BET, HuffPost Live, Tom Joyner Morning Show, and countless other local, national, and international outlets. She is a founding television talk show host of BET Network's My Two Cents (2006).
Under Silver's leadership, some of AKILA WORKSONGS’s progressive clients and partners (past and present) include the late Amiri Baraka, Nana Camille Yarbrough, Sonia Sanchez, Doug E. Fresh (pictured left), KRS-One, Kevin Powell, Sister Souljah, Chuck D., Heather B., Marc Lamont Hill, Byron Hurt, Toni Blackman, asha bandele, Adesola Osakalumi, Chief Ayanda Clarke, Stanley Nelson, Andrea Ritchie, Timothy Jones, Mo Beasley, MomsRising, Apollo Theater, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL Presents), International African Arts Festival, Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation, TRANSART & Cultural Services, Ford Foundation, Mott Foundation, City of Newark, NAACP (Brooklyn Branch), Romare Bearden Foundation, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, The Public Theater, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of African Diaspora San Francisco (MoAD), Adrienne Arts Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, PEN World Voices Literary Festival, the Center for Black Literature, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Still I Rise: Maya Angelou documentary, Howard University, University of the District of Columbia, Temple University, Virginia State University, Florida Memorial University, a variety of Black theater productions on and off Broadway, and hundreds of other clients nationally and abroad.
AS WRITER, SPEAKER, MENTOR, FACULTY
Silver's essays have been published in the New York Daily News, Word.Beats.Life (The Global Journal of Hip Hop Culture), and various digital platforms. Also, she's been featured in several works and articles and is the editor of Be a Father to Your Child (SoftSkull Press/Counterpoint, 2008). HuffPost Black Voices cites Be a Father as a “powerful and groundbreaking anthology.” Foreword Magazine claims, “Editor April R. Silver has turned her first book into a must-read for anyone involved in the black community.” Mothering Magazine says Be a Father is an “artfully designed anthology that addresses the intersection of hip-hop with issues of black masculinity and parenting…” Silver is working on her second anthology (I’ve Got Life!) about Black women artists, activists, and healers. In 2023, she contributed to African Voices magazine's special tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip hop, guest edited by GRAMMY Nominated writer of international acclaim, Kevin Powell.
In 2013, the president of American University of Nigeria (Yola) invited Ms. Silver to keynote about her signature topic, the intersection of arts and activism. She returned six months later to create an artist residency featuring her clients from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, FELA! Also in 2013, Silver Silver was featured at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, interviewed by noted journalist Curtis Stephen on AKILA WORKSONGS's 20th anniversary.
Through her decades-long work the the Brooklyn Arts Council, Silver became a mentor with the NYC Department of Small Business Services. Silver is a die-hard hip hop head and a natural educator. In 2023, she was invited to teach SUNY Old Westbury's first-ever hip hop social justice course for its Educational Opportunity Program.
AS CULTURAL WORKER, CUSTODIAN, and CURATOR
While a student at Howard University in the early 90s, Silver was the founding president of The Cultural Initiative, Inc., producer of the nation’s first hip hop conference on a college campus. The annual national gathering was a touchstone event that launched the hip hop education movement now embraced by academia. The groundbreaking Conferences shifted the culture and solidified Silver and her peers as pillars in the hip hop cultural movement for self-determination. After graduation from Howard, she taught in New York City’s junior high schools. She then later formed her agency to merge hip hop culture with community activism and personal enrichment. Silver was also a member of the NY Chapter of the Recording Academy (The GRAMMYS®). She also served intermittently on its Board of Governors, served as a 2nd Vice President, and chaired its spoken word committee (working to have the category definition updated).
In 2023, Silver was tapped to join the team at Brooklyn Public Library's Night in the Library: The Philosophy of Hip Hop. She curated the event's Dilemma Series and invited her friend, KRS-One (pictured left), to a one-on-one conversation about the essence of hip hop from a legend's view.
AS SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST and STUDENT OF IFA
Since childhood, Silver has been driven to help create a more balanced world, all guided by traditional African values that support the evolution of humanity.
Among her hundreds of combined business endeavors and community service projects over the years, she founded the organization Co-Motion (in response to the killing of Amadou Diallo); served as Interim Executive Director of Nkiru Center for Education and Culture, the non-profit organization and bookstore co-founded by Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def); founded Artists for Life as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief movement; and co-founded Help Haiti (with Kevin Powell) as a part of the Haiti earthquake relief movement. Silver continues to volunteer, counsel, and help finance various cultural arts and social justice initiatives in the United States and West Africa.
Ms. Silver's full social justice immersion began in 1986, her freshman year at Howard University. Under the mentorship of Sister Souljah, Sonia Sanchez, her professors, and others, Silver's coming of age as a student activist blossomed in the late 80s and early 90s. At HU, she helped lead the historic student protest of 1989 which resulted in the ouster of Lee Atwater from the University's Board of Trustees. Her co-leadership role attracted international recognition. Thirty years later, Joshua M. Myers, also an HU graduate and current Associate Professor in the HU Department of Afro-American Studies, brilliantly wrote We Are Worth Fighting For: A History of the Howard University Student Protest of 1989 (NYU Press, 2019).
After the student takeover of the administration building, Silver was elected president of the Howard University Student Association, aka HUSA, the second woman ever to hold that position. Friend and protest co-leader, Ras J. Baraka (pictured left; currently the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey) was elected as her vice president.
A student of Orisa spiritual practice for more than 30 years, Silver is a sanctioned custodian of traditional Ifa culture as expressed by the Yoruba people in West Africa. She was initiated to Ifa in Nigeria (Osun State) by Chief Fakayode Faniyi, Agbongbon Awo of Osogbo. She is a student of her mentor Chief Ayanda Ifadara Clarke, Ajibilu Awo of Osogbo.
April is currently working and residing in Brooklyn and Atlanta, finishing her latest book, developing two film projects, co-establishing an independent Howard University alumni organization, and taking long walks in the park.
Other Photos by Solwazi Afi Olusola and Omar Akil Williams
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