Thulani Davis


Biography of Thulani Davis

Thulani Davis (born 1949) is an American playwright, journalist, librettist, novelist, poet, and screenwriter. She is a graduate of Barnard College and attended graduate school at both the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. In 1992, Davis received a Grammy Award for her album notes on Aretha Franklin's Queen Of Soul — The Atlantic Recordings, becoming the first female recipient of this award. Davis wrote for the Village Voice for more than a decade, including authoring the obituary for fellow poet and Barnard alumna June Jordan. Thulani Davis is a contemporary of and collaborator with Ntozake Shange.

Thulani Davis was born to two educators from Virginia, Willie ("Billie") Louise Barbour Davis and Collis Huntington Davis, Sr. The Davises are a prominent African-American family of Virginia and the subject of her 2006 book, My Confederate Kinfolk.

Davis graduated from the Putney School in 1966 and continued her education at Barnard College, from which she graduated in 1970. Davis also attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. After graduating from Barnard, Davis moved to San Francisco where she worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, reporting on news stories such as the Soledad Brothers trial and the Angela Davis case. Davis became a performing poet and worked with a number of musicians and poets in San Francisco. She also joined the Third World Artists Collective, collaborating with Ntozake Shange and others.

Davis returned to New York City in the 1970s. There, she wrote for the Village Voice for 13 years, eventually working her way up to serve as Senior Editor. In the mid-1980s Davis collaborated with her cousin, composer Anthony Davis, in order to write the libretto to X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X. The two collaborated again in 1997 when Davis wrote the libretto to Amistad. Davis was also involved in the creation of documentaries and film after moving back to New York City. Her filmmaker brother, Collis Huntington Davis, Jr., introduced her to other black filmmakers. Through these connection, Davis became involved in the making of documentaries; the first with which she was associated aired on PBS. She continues to work on a number of creative projects including operas, films, novels, and plays.

Davis is an ordained Buddhist priest in the Jodo Shinshu sect. She founded the Brooklyn Buddhist Association with her husband Joseph Jarman.

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