ONI LASANA was born and nurtured with an intuitive love of music, poetry, and storytelling
in the Strawberry Mansion section of North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- FATHER: WILLIAM H. MORRIS : South Carolina Geechee, master mason, community activist, raconteur and people person.
- MOTHER: I. MARIA ANDERSON : A Creole lady from Louisiana, Co-owner of Mel-Mar Creations, ladies boutique and wig salon and Peter Pan Children's Shop on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. She also performed as a 1st soprano with the Negro Opera Ensemble of Philadelphia. Mrs. Anderson was often mistaken for Lena Horne and had dreams of becoming an actress. Oni was her fifth and youngest child who inherited her mother and father's talent for public speaking and dramatic recitations.
- CHILDHOOD : Culturally and creatively grew up in a beautiful tree lined neighborhood at 24th & Huntingdon Street. She fun-lovingly kept younger children safe and out of trouble in what her mother called her "basement & backyard school." From the time Oni could read, she was teaching, directing talent shows, and making up street games with playmates.
- At 8, Oni's mother enrolled her in the Ms. Hall Dance Troupe at Connie Mack Recreation Center (now Cecil B. Moore). The all girls dance troupe won city wide competitions performing jazz, tap and ballet to the music of the hit movie, South Pacific.
- TEEN YEARS: Performed with "Crazy Armand" McKissick, as one of the intermission dancers for the legendary WDAS RADIO'S Rock & Rolls shows & Motown Revue's at the Uptown Theater. Backstage, she often marveled at the before and after transformations of the glamorous Supremes, Temptations, Stevie Wonder and her all time favorites, Smokey Robinson and James Brown. In 2006 Oni's biographical short-story of her memories, "Rock & Rollin' at the Uptown Theater" was a winning story for the Benjamin Franklin Autobiography Project of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- YOUNG ADULT : Graduated from West Catholic Girls High School of Philadelphia in business, and employed by Fidelity Bank. On vacation she flew to Los Angeles and fell in love with the sunshine, palm trees and characters.
- LOS ANGELES : Stayed in Los Angeles (for the weather - in those days, it was little opportunity in the performing arts, for people of color) and was employed in the fashion industry, as a window dresser, sales consultant and customer stylist for the Sy Amber Family of Hollywood, California.
- WES FARRELL ORGANIZATION : Receptionist, Assistant to David Mook, head of the Music Publishing Department of the Partridge Family TV Show's, Every Little Tune Publishing Division and the K-Tell Oldies but Goodies Music catalogue. Wes Farrell Organization, Recording and Music Publishing Co. aka Chelsea Records in Los Angeles, was also home to British artist Lulu, R&B group, New York City of the R & B hit, "I'm Doing Fine Now"...without you baby" among other artists and "The Singing Cowboy" TV special production.
- CHELSEA RECORDS : A natural instinct and a gifted ear for music, led to the discovery of a submitted demo "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William De Vaughn. The song hit the charts and became Billboard's #1 R&B hit of 1974. This led to a promotion in Artist & Repertoire Department. It was while employed at Chelsea Records, Oni was invited to Jamaica to assist reggae artists retain copyrights, publishing rights and mechanical royalties.
- OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA 1975 : Returned to US to pursue a degree in Communications at Laney College in Oakland, Californ While attending Laney she volunteered and was later employed by Pacifica Foundation at KPFA-FM radio station, Berkeley, California.
- BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA : KPFA-FM : Produced and hosted "Your Space" a weekly in-studio live showcase for local artists and "Bay Leaf" a over-night jazz program. Interim-Director of the Third World Department where civil rights activist, Professor Angela Davis also hosted a radio program.
- KPFA-FM Producer and writer of audio documentaries on the Rastafarian Movement in Jamaica, the Soweto Uprisings of South Africa, Who Killed Steve Biko?, and the Wailers of Jamaica. She was the first female radio personality in the USA to produce and host a national weekly radio show exclusively featuring Reggae music.
- COATESVILLE, PA 1986 : Married Don, and together they raised 3 children. "Blooming where planted" in the countryside of Chester County, Pennsylvania. With her youth by her side she served in Chester County as a creative cultural ARTivist and youth mentor in the performing arts.
- Freedom Valley Girl Scout Leader: 1989 of the first integrated troupe in Chester County. 1990 Creative Director, Event Planner and Manager of an African-American performing arts Girl Scout troupe.
- Chair of Freedom Valley Girl Scout's Minority Task Force, developed a diversity handbook for Girl Scout Leaders in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
- Coatesville Kwanzaa Committee, Founding Member : Annual community event. Hosted the Fihankra Project, (Uniting the Divided House) Chief Naumapau II, his sister Nana Kente with a delegations of Chiefs from Kumasi, Ghana visited the USA on tour of conscious communities to apologize for ancestral involvement in the slave trade.
- Kwanzaa Committee extended Black History Month to year round. Facilitated the Empak "Say Yes! To Black History" program at the Coatesville Community Center. Harambee Festival Committee Member.
- YOUNG WOMAN & CHILDREN SERVICE, Coatesville (formerly YWCA) Board Member: Youth activities and wellness exercise programs for community and the welfare of woman and children in transitional crisis.
- COATESVILLE CULTURAL SOCIETY 1992 : Founding & Performing Member : Theatre, Cafe & Art Gallery : Studied and performed Paul Laurence Dunbar’s works with the Bob Jones Dance Troupe.
- ONI LASANA PRODUCTIONS 1994 : Owner / Artist: Developing & producing theatrical storytelling programs, children and historical characters, performances and workshops. As a "Dunbarian", Oni's presentations of Paul Laurence Dunbar's spoken word poetry has taken her to audiences throughout the USA, and to Germany, Trinidad & Tobago and Zimbabwe.
- MUSIC ARRANGER: Prose of Paul Laurence Dunbar, to over a dozen of his poems over jazz, calypso, rap, and south African instrumental music in various programs. For the Brother Dunbar Performance Workshop in Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom on Libraries Unlimited . Featured artist on the Definitive Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Collection DVD box set. Musical stories on Aunti Oni Story Village, podcast.
- COMMUNITY & INTERNET RADIO : Producer & Host: CARIBBEAN NITES music program on WCOJ-FM Radio, "The voice of Chester County." Spoken Word and Storytelling program: WORD UP! on WCHE-FM radio of West Chester, PA. Online docu-radio show, "Voices of The Diaspora" Harambee Radio.com, interviewing and promoting cultural icons, storytellers, poets, community artists and activists to international audiences.
- PUBLICATIONS CD & BOOKS: Independent spoken word productions : Oni Lasana Doin' Dunbar as 'Lias' Mother, Sister Wings, Spoken Word Songs Bass & Beat! and I Dreamt, MLK Jr. the single, available for download on all digital music platforms.
- Bio-poetic published titles; A Soul Sister From Cool World Valley, Real Tales of Rhymes & Reason, and Gardenia's & Gumbeaux.
- TOHO PUBLISHING CO. : Short Story Author : Philly Scam or Pay It Forward? - The Best Short Stories of Philadelphia 2019 / Hindsight 2020 - Baptized By The Blues.
- ASCAP: American Society of Composers and Publishers. Songwriter and music publisher member
- PERFORMANCE POET: 1995 Chester County Women's Prison Workshops with Dagmar Holl. Founding member & Story Poet; In The Company of Poets, "Philly's First and Finest Female Spoken Word Ensemble." 2000-2005 - ITCOP presented original poetry on personal and international woman's issues.
- Co-produced FEMALE FIRE! a spoken word CD. Presented at Caribbean Festival, Woman Woman Of Color Conference, Sinclair College in Dayton, OH, and many universities and festivals throughout the Philadelphia area.
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR & PERFORMER: The West Chester Community Performers. A benevolent theater group of professional women, who's mission is to present African-American Literature from full length plays to readers theater. WCCP has donated over 30,000 in scholarship book awards to college bound students in Chester County, Pennsylvania
- PRETTY IMPERFECTION ART WEAR Collection : Jewelry artisan of precious stones, one of a kind elegant statement necklaces and earrings. Featured on the Pretty Imperfection Artwear Facebook page and for private showings.
- PODCAST VOICE TALENT & PRODUCER : Since 2021 : Story Village with Aunti Oni Podcast - Webby award-winning voice talent for African Folktales, Episodes : 7, 8 & 9 / Writer and Voice Talent on Kwanzaa Time with Aunti Oni, on ABF Creative, Inc.
- HISTORICAL RE-ENACTING : Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (abolitionist poet) and Ona Judge, George & Martha Washington's (1st president of USA) enslaved African-American servant).
- LAUGHTER YOGA WELLNESS : Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, guiding sessions on the holistic benefits of Laughter Yoga. LOL4Real! breaks down social barriers and encourages wellness.
- WORKS IN PROGRESS : Children's books, "How The Storyman Found A Story" - "King Lions' Dance" based on a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, and "The Palm & The Poui, a Tobago Tale."
Oni Lasana Constantly Celebrates Creativity & Ubuntu!
Focusing on what connects us as human's rather than what separates us. Oni enjoys reading and researching "ah ha!" stories, rehearsing for programs, practicing bass guitar, songwriting and cooking Creole & Caribbean cuisine.
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Traveling with her husband, solo for gigs, or collaborating with storytelling friends!
Special thanks to clients, supporters, family & friends.
Ya like to read or edit?
Scroll down to read Oni's personal diary of poems & short stories on her adventures in Story Land
MUSINGS : Considering something thoughtfully
~ REPRESENTING ~
Storytellers of Canada
NEST North East Storytelling
Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild
National Storytelling Network
National Association of Black Storytellers
Association of African American Life and History
(Founded by Carter G. Woodson)
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