Who is Oni Lasana?

Oni Lasana was born and nurtured with a love of music, poetry, storytelling and people.   Her mother, Maria, a businesswoman, also sang 1st soprano with the Negro Opera Ensemble of Philadelphia.  Her father, a mason by trade was a Renaissance man, vivacious raconteur and "people"  person. She was culturally and creatively raised on a beautiful tree lined street with lots of playmates. She held court and kept her younger friends safe and out of trouble in her "basement & backyard" school where she taught and created talent shows in the Strawberry Mansion section of  North Philadelphia. 


Her mother put her on the stage at age 7 with the Ms. Hall Dance Troupe at Connie Mack Recreation Center (now Cecil B. Moore).  The children's troupe won city wide competitions dancing jazz, tap and ballet to the sound track music of the hit movie, South Pacific. As a teen, she danced with "Crazy Armand" as one of his go-go girls for WDAS Rock & Rolls shows & Motown Revue's at the Uptown Theater. Read her award-winning bio-story, "Rock & Rollin' at the Uptown Theater" at the link to her blog at the end of this page.

 

Oni graduated in business from West Catholic Girls High School of Philadelphia.  After moving to Los Angeles (for the weather - it was little opportunity in performing arts, for people of color back then) she was employed by the Amber Family in the fashion industry. Her love of music, led her to be employed in the A&R department at the Wes Farrell Organization, Recording and Music Publishing Co. in Los Angeles. A natural instinct for talent and a ear for hit music, she discovered and promoted the Billboard #1 R&B hit, "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William DeVaughn.  After leaving WFO she moved to Jamaica and was a pioneer in the publishing and promotion of reggae music. She returned to the US to study Communications at Laney College in Oakland, California. 


Her love of radio production found her volunteering and later employed by KPFA-FM as Director of the Third World Department. She produced radio documentaries on the Rastafarian Movement, Steve Biko, Soweto Uprisings of South Africa, and the rise of the Wailers of Jamaica.  It was at KPFA-FM where she was the first female to host a national weekly radio show featuring Reggae & African music.


 In 1981, she moved forward to her home town of Philadelphia, met her husband where they raised 3 children and "bloomed where planted" in the beautiful countryside of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Oni with her children in tow, was active in the community as a youth mentor in the performing arts and facilitator of the Empak "Say Yes! To Black History" program for the Coatesville Community Center. 


Since 1993 she trained, studied and performed Paul L. Dunbar’s poetry under the direction of Bob Jones of The Bob Jones Dance Troupe of the Coatesville Cultural Society. Oni's was the Chair of the Minority Task Force for Freedom Valley Girl Scout Council which developed diversity programming.   Oni is a passionate advocate for Arts & Culture in Education for children. She also serves as a humanitarian, historian and educator of American and Caribbean history and culture, through the art of Storytelling.  


A multi-disciplinary performance and teaching artist, she is also a published poet, storyteller, performance poet, songwriter, music arranger, and director of adult and youth theater. She has directed and performed in several productions with her "drama mama's, The West Chester Comunity Performers, a benevolent theater group who has donated thousands in scholarship awards to talented youth in need. 


As a performance poet she was a member of In The Company of Poets, "Philly's First and Finest Female Spoken Word Ensemble" as the Story Poet.  She produced and hosted music and storytelling programs on local Chester County radio station's WCOJ & WCHE-FM.  Oni's online docu-radio show, "Voices of The Diaspora" on Harambee Radio, was a creative outlet back to radio where she enjoyed interviewing and promoting cultural icons, storytellers, poets, community artists and activists to international online audiences.


Since 1994, Oni has owned and operates Oni Lasana Productions to house her performance and workshop programs. Oni's future projects include publishing at least ONE of her 3 children's books before she runs out of steam....as if ;-)


Oni's travels, research and love of music & storytelling, and most of all people, have taken her to live, work, love, visit and keep it moving in California, Miami, England, Bahamas, Jamaica, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago and most recently, Zimbabwe, Africa!


Oni Lasana's greatest joy is making children of all ages laugh and is a Nana to six grandchildren. She loves to cook, write poetry, research and re-tell stories that teach positive messages, re-enact historical woman, and encourage folks to respect one another.  While listening to music & Laughing Out Loud at happy TV, she designs & creates precious stone jewelry for her Pretty Imperfection Art Wear. Oni vends PIA for special occasions, holds private showings and features her beautiful statement jewelry line on Facebook. Most of all, Oni loves studying the bible, messing around on her bass guitar, hanging out with her husband of 34 years, and cooking Creole and Caribbean cuisine. 


Oni Lasana is a member of the West Chester Community Performers, Keepers Of The Culture, Inc., Patchwork, a Storytelling Guild, The New Jersey Storytelling Network and The National Association of Black Storytellers. 


NEED A PRESS BIO for a program? 

Please contact Oni once a program is confirmed. 

Thanks for your interest & we hope to hear from you soon! 

Oni's beautiful muse.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Oni in a concrete jungle!

Be my new best friend on Facebook! & check out my blog...(what a weird name for short stories) at the end of this page! Tatenda! (Thank you in Shona)

Poem & Short Stories

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484.885.0153