Meet the Keynote: LaShonda Katrice Barnett

We met at a dinner party. Oysters were being shucked, white wine was being served and an honest conversation was taking place amongst brilliant, beautiful and fierce women. As the night progressed the conversation moved to writing. Most of us in attendance had aspirations, visions and ideas for stories and characters we were creating or wanted to create. You can’t get writers in a room without bouncing hundreds of ideas and if your lucky you leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and with a burning desire to get the story written. I left that evening feeling the well overflowing like the most breathtaking waterfall that I was more than happy to bathe in.

She shared that her book, Jam on the Vine was about to launch and extended an invitation to her book launch party.


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We were so very honored to be invited to what seemed more like a family reunion than a book launch. People from the South really know how to do it big! There was a live band, delicious food and people from all walks of life. Her book launch was a celebration of a huge accomplishment. LaShonda was surrounded by everyone she loved and those who loved her that included her mother, friends from college, peers and elementary school teacher. And while that moment was intended to be “all about her” she made it all about US! She shared her very special moment with everyone present. She is someone I admire, love and respect, an inspiration in every sense of the word.

Once my partner and I got to know her we wanted to support everything she was doing. We attended her talk at the LGBTQ Center in New York. During that talk there were things that stayed with me such as, “I don’t believe in writing workshops…” on writing, “people are called to writing independently!” on committing to craft and writers guilt, “you have to live… the work will get done.”

As she spoke I knew we were looking at our keynote for the Sankofa Sisterhood Writers Retreat. At that point we had invited several writers, Julia Alvarez and Edwidge Danticat just to name a few. Yet our keynote was standing right before of us. That very evening we knew. I glanced over at my girlfriend and said, “she’s our keynote!” and she agreed. We invited her and she so graciously accepted. We are honored to have LaShonda Katrice Barnett as this years keynote! Join me in welcoming her and get ready for a weekend that will change the way we see ourselves as writers, as women and the stories we were born to tell.

JOIN US for the Sankofa Sisterhood Retreat

May 22 – 25th – Catskills, New York

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LaSHONDA KATRICE BARNETT was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974, and grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She is the author of the forthcoming debut novel  Jam on the Vine (Grove Atlantic Inc., Feb. 2015) and a story collection (1999).  She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the College Language Association, among others.  She is twice-nominated for the 2015 Pushcart prize.

In 2014, Barnett’s short stories appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Guernica MagazineNew Orleans ReviewSN ReviewJuked, C4: Chamber Quarterly Literary Review, Gemini Magazine and elsewhere.

The Appropriate Onesher trilogy of full-length plays (HomewoodMenemsha and L’Echange), explores race within one interracial American family. She has held residences at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts-Martha’s Vineyard, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

A lover and scholar of music of the African diaspora and an avid interviewer, Barnett has conducted over one hundred interviews with women musicians and edited the volumes, I GOT THUNDER: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and OFF THE RECORD: Conversations With African American & Brazilian Women Musicians, (Rowman & Littlefield, Spring 2015).  The third music book, DROP THE MIC: Women Hip Hop & Neo Soul Artists Sound Off On Creativity & Commerce is forthcoming by Wesleyan University Press.  She has hosted her own jazz radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, NYC); taught ‘Women in Jazz’ at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center; and lectured on the music nationally and in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany and South Africa. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Sarah Lawrence College and the College of William and Mary, where she received a B.A.; M.A. in Women’s History and the Ph.D. in American Studies, respectively; she has taught history and literature at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College and Brown University.  She currently writes full time at home on Manhattan’s upper west side.

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Author website:

LaShonda’s events and appearances:


NPR interview

Lashonda audio book


Audio book narrated by Phylicia Rashad and available: JAM ON THE VINE AUDIO BOOK

To purchase book: BARNES and NOBLE






For more information email




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