The Pittsburgh Foundation

Diarra Imani

Diarra Imani. Image credit: Jaquan Brockman
Diarra Imani. Image credit: Jaquan Brockman

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

This grant will be used to complete, launch and tour the “Time Will Tell” album and publish two poetry books: “Quicksand” and “The Hourglass Effect.” 

"As a poet, a singer & educator I have found music to be a vessel of calm in the midst of distress," she says. "As a yogi, a healer, a mother, breath has occupied the spaces in my heart that haven’t found words yet. This is what I do, breathwork is the byproduct of my art form. As a Black Artist I have found myself confronting breath as an act of resistance."

Emma Ferris, a physiotherapist featured on Shondaland’s website, says “80% of the population have a breathing dysfunction & have developed poor techniques throughout the years.” Post-COVID those dysfunctions have increased in the Black community where illness and disenfranchisement are greater threats. This year, after becoming a mother for the first time, being nominated for an Emmy award for her poetry, being invited overseas to train teachers in the art forms she harnesses, she says, "I reclaim my energy so that I can create a stronger foundation & serve my people with love. This need for a stable foundation built on Black culture, Black joy & the serenity of creating art has led me to write Time Will Tell, the album as well as the cumulative grant project - fully centering my art, healing power & practical needs to sustain & thrive."

Far too often artists feel guilty for taking the time to create art, she says. It’s a challenge to be a full-time parent, educator and artist. In times of burdened financial markets, artists are forced to sacrifice the craft in the name of stability. As a new mom, Diarra Imani says she looks at her nine-month-old daughter and hopes that her gifts and talents never feel like a burden. "This project, Time Will Tell, is my ultimate push to gain stable footing as an artist full-time. This grant will enable me as a professional creative to pay rent, payroll & consulting fees; foundational needs of a career that can sustain generations."