NC Literary Hall of Fame



The River Speaks of Thirst by Jaki Shelton Green

Soul City Sounds
$10.00, digital / $20.00, vinyl
June, 2020
Music: Spoken Word / Experimental
Available from

Debut album from North Carolina's Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green.

In performance, Jaki’s poems have always had a profoundly musical quality, images flowing by in the sonorous, knowing murmur of her voice. She comes by that quality honestly. Long before Jaki called herself a writer, much less a poet, music was an important part of her life. She grew up surrounded by records in the family home, taking in all of the jazz, rock, blues and soul music in the air—“The Last Poets,” Arthur Prysock’s “This Is My Beloved,” Nina Simone, James Brown, even recordings of street-corner speeches by Malcolm X—and it left a mark.

Put all of that together and add Jaki’s stature as beloved cultural icon in the fertile crescent of North Carolina’s music community, and you have The River Speaks of Thirst, her debut album. At age 67, Jaki is adding Recording Artist to her resume.

Jaki Shelton Green is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. When appointed in 2018, Governor Cooper stated that “Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.” Jaki is an inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

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