Audible, Inc., the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling, today announced Ras Baraka’s Audible Original, The Book of Baraka, set for release exclusively on Audible on February 24, 2022. Baraka, the 40th Mayor of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, is also a devoted activist, poet, and agent for change. In this audio memoir, Baraka, the son of a famous poet and public revolutionary, recounts his upbringing in a home filled with poetry and politics and explores how his unusual early life informed his future.
His father, Amiri Baraka – one of the most influential poets and playwrights of the 1960’s and ‘70s – provided a unique lens through which Ras filtered his own experience and understanding of the world. The Book of Baraka mixes vivid prose and Ras’s own poetry in describing his evolution from aspiring spoken-word artist, to school principal, to influential politician. The Original also includes personal anecdotes about the fascinating figures he encountered along the way, like Nina Simone, The Fugees, and Lauryn Hill — who famously featured him on her debut album.
Baraka collaborated on the project with renowned journalist and author Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at The New Yorker and Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. Cobb has written several books and is most recently the editor of the 2021 release, The Essential Kerner Commission Report. The Book of Baraka was executive produced by New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
“I am both humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share my stories of growing up in Newark, being shaped by art and politics in a family that constantly challenged tradition, the world, and itself,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This is me having a conversation about navigating spaces and trying to transform them at the same time. In one sense it is a regular story of coming of age as a Black Boy in one of America’s cities pushed out into the world. But then again it’s about doing that as the son of Amiri and Amina Baraka who built one of the largest cultural nationalist organizations in this country, helped to organize the largest Black Political conventions in this nation, and created the force that led to the election of Ken Gibson. It shows how their personal and political changes affected me but more importantly it’s about how this music and song was given to me and how I found my own voice trying to sing it.”
“Mayor Baraka’s deep roots in hip hop and poetry, his only-in-Newark upbringing, and his years as an educator and civic leader make for a brilliant, singular storytelling performance,” said Audible Founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz. “Mixing powerful soliloquies, original poetic readings and historic audio in a rich soundscape tapestry filled with rap and syncopated bass lines and musical interludes, Mayor Baraka takes Audible Originals in a visionary new direction. We’re excited to bring his story to listeners around the world, particularly the residents of Newark, the city Audible proudly calls home.”
“We are honored to share Mayor Baraka’s storytelling talent,” said Aisha Glover, Audible VP of Urban Innovation. “And I am excited for listeners to learn what makes our hometown so special; its creative and artistic brilliance, historical legacy and unmatched perseverance. When we launched the Global Center for Urban Development to advance equity and economic empowerment in our beloved hometown, there could be no stronger collaborator, no one better aligned with our mission than Mayor Ras J. Baraka.”
The Book of Baraka will premiere exclusively on Audible on February 24, joining a series of Audible Originals and powerful narratives exploring a range of Black experiences and complex issues of race and equality, including We’ve Got Answers from Charlamagne Tha God; So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and narrated by Bahni Turpin; No Ashes in the Fire written and narrated by Darnell L. Moore; The Autobiography of Malcolm X performed by Laurence Fishburne; Olio by Tyeimba Jess; Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady; Billie was a Black Woman, and 7 Years by Tariq Trotter. For more vital listens, please visit: https://www.audible.com/ep/raising-black-voices.