Bassey Ikpi is a Nigerian born and Washington D.C. bred poet/writer who was a featured cast member of the National Touring Company of the Tony Award winning Broadway show, Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam. Not a stranger to the stage, her poetry has also opened shows by Grammy Award winning artists such as India Arie, Luther Vandross, Alicia Keys and has earned her standing ovations at the NAACP Image Awards where her poetry was part of a tribute to Venus and Serena Williams. Bassey Ikpi was the opener for Conde Nast Traveler’s 25th Anniversary Visionaries Award, and performed her poetry before the Visionaries Award audience which included honored public figures who were doing work to better the planet, such as the United States’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and Susan Sarandon just to name a few. Bassey has headlined Festivals all over the world from Pittsburgh to Johannesburg to Lagos and at The United Nations Africa Day conference where she received a standing ovation from the dignitaries in attendance.
Bassey has also graced the pages of such notable publications as Nylon, Marie Claire, Glamour and Bust as well as the cover for Nigerian magazine, Taruwa. She has appeared on numerous chat shows across the globe both as a guest and a presenter. Her production company, Bassey World Unlimited, is responsible for creating diverse content from a uniquely diasporan perspective.
Bassey’s popular live show “Basseyworld Live”, infused poetry and interactive panel discussions on everything from politics to pop culture – with a huge emphasis on mental health issues. Not only did she headline each show, but she also moderated the panel discussions, which included special invited guests from various industries such as art, film and journalism.
With social commentary being a focus of her work, Bassey has recorded original poems for the Kaiser Foundation’s, HIV/AIDS campaign, Knowing Is Beautiful and There is No Comfort In Silence for Global Grind in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb and World AIDS Day. In Lagos, she organized Do The Write Thing an event to show support through the spoken word for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. She also recorded a song with popular Nigerian artist 2Face Idibia in support of the movement called Break The Silence. Her passion for poetry, arts and social issues has also led her to work as a freelance writer for several media outlets on the topic of mental health and pop culture commentary including Ebony, The Huffington Post, Essence.com, XOJane.com and TheRoot.com and was the resident pop culture critic for Philly’s WURD FM radio station.
Following the suicide of a young friend, Bassey founded a non-profit organization, The Siwe Project to help spread mental health awareness in the global African community. On July 2nd, The Siwe Project launched the No Shame Day Initiative. Bassey was recognized by MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show as a Foot Soldier of the Week for her mental health advocacy. Bassey tours the United States speaking about mental health awareness. She has apppeared on Ariana Huffington’s Huff PoLive and Black Enterprise’s Our World both hosted by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on the subject of reducing stigma.
In Nigeria, she hosted the first Nationwide Poetry Slam and also did a three city tour performing her poetry in Calabar, Abuja and Lagos. Bassey appeared on a number of popular radio and television programs and continued her work to bring high quality, informative entertainment to the airwaves. She was also signed to popular publishing imprint, Farafina Books and is the process of penning her first book. With her talent, beauty and intelligence there is nothing but continued success in her future.