Bio

Photograph by Linda Marie Stella

Amani/Anne-Marie Woods is the recipient of the 2013 Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Entertainment. 

She is an actor, dancer, singer, poet, producer, arts educator, playwright ;roject manager, creativity career coach and creative consultant. Born in London England of Trinidadian heritage, her family left Trinidad in the early 70’s and she spent her formative years in Dartmouth, and later Halifax, Nova Scotia.  She laid down her roots as an artist in Nova Scotia for many years, and is now based in Toronto but, she continues to make waves in the arts scene both nationally and internationally.

Imani Enterprises

Imani Enterprises is a Global Arts Culture and Entertainment organization founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Anne-Marie Woods in 1994. Now, based in Toronto, Ontario for over 18 years, Imani Enterprises is a response to the need for positive cultural programming and outreach with an arts, cultural and entertainment focus. Our services include: Project Management, Creative Consulting Services, Keynote Speeches, Creative Workshops, Event Planning, Promotions, Coaching and Productions. We introduce creativity as a means of communication and outreach and provide innovative services to: Individuals, schools, community based organizations and corporations.

“At Imani Enterprises we use a multi-disciplinary and creative approach with all of our projects. From our diversity workshops to our arts education work, from our theatrical productions to our entertainment events, from our coaching to our strategic planning… we offer a unique service because we customize our work to suit our clients’ needs. We also have a distinct competitive advantage, because we have an established network of external partners in Toronto, Montreal, Nova Scotia, the United States, London, England, and Trinidad West Indies.”

Ms. Woods is a pioneer in her field. Her extensive background in project management, community development, theatre, the media, production, communications and marketing, writing and performance make her an excellent facilitator, communicator and extremely efficient at assessing the needs of her clients.

Personal Bio 

Amani/Anne-Marie Woods is a  graduate of  the Dalhousie Professional Actor Training Program and she has a Small Business Certificate from the HRDC Self-Employment Business Program. After earning her theatre degree she worked in the not for profit sector as Program Coordinator for The Cultural Awareness Youth Group of Nova Scotia.  In the 90’s she founded her young company The Imani Women’s Artistic Project, and she was the director of countless youth and arts oriented community projects. She has been a part of the spoken word scene since the spring of 1996 and is credited with bringing Spoken Word to the Nova Scotia Community.  Earlier that year she coordinated a youth cultural exchange trip to Toronto for  between the youth she mentored running the Cultural Awareness Youth Group and the Jane and Finch Youth Group, Tropicana and the Fresh Arts Program.  In 1997 she received funding from Canada Council for the Arts to do a nine month residency at Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia, one of the oldest Black Theatres in Pennsylvania. While there she was in the August Wilson Advanced Scene Study Class with John Hobbs, she taught Acting for beginners and Acting for dancers, and she worked with well-known Artistic Director Walter Dallas on the stage production of Cooley High.

Four The Moment

Ms. Woods was a member Acapella singing sensation Four The Moment from 1988 until 2000 when they hung up their microphones.  Within the context of the singing group she wrote two spoken word pieces and performed the rap content of their songs, as well as blending her voice in with their beautiful harmonies.  One spoken word piece Voices In The Dark was turned into a rap song and released on their In My Soul CD and the other was called I Shall Rise (You Can’t Bring Me Down) and was featured in their Sankofa Tour in October of 2000.  Four The Moment is credited with receiving the first African Canadian Artist of the Year Award at the East Coast Music Awards in 1998.  They also performed at many festivals including: the Germany Women In E Motion Festival, the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, Lincoln Centre in New York City and they were the opening act for Dr. Maya Angelou at Roy Thompson Hall and then at the Sky Dome Theatre.  Most recently Four The Moment held the distinct privilidge of opening up for Dr. Angela Davis in October 2018 as part of the Belong Speaker series at Dalhousie University. They will be honoured in October of 2019 at the Adsum House 30th Anniversary of the Annual Successful Canadian Women’s Dinner.

Acting and Writing

However, outside of the singing group, Ms. Woods has achieved many things.  She was the first African Canadian to perform at the prestigious National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina in 2001.  Her one woman show “Waiting To Explode” which encompassed comedy, song, monologues, and spoken word received rave reviews and got a mention from Jeanette Toomer in the New York theatre paper Backstage as one of the acts from abroad that stood out. She worked at CBC and was a featured voice on CBC radio’s Metro Morning for years, where she took news and current affairs and turned them into song, poems, comedic commentaries and rants.  She wrote a monthly column for afrotoronto.com called On My Mind for five years and then started a travel column called Single With Baggage. She then went on to write GPS- Going Places Single, another travel column for Sway Magazine Online from September 2011 until Sway Magazine came to an end in the summer of 2012. She has continued her Travel Blog Single With Baggage and now has readership in Canada, the United States, the UK and the Caribbean.  This year Meres Weche founder of Afrotoronto.com interviewed her about her career in the arts. Podcast Interview 2019 How Black History Saved My Life

Spoken Word

Her spoken word name is Amani; a combination of the first two initials of her first name and the Swahili word Imani meaning faith. Her debut spoken word CD “Amani the Words, the Rhythm, the Music was sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts and was released with a live concert on September 22nd, 2007 in Toronto, Ontario.  She has been the opening act for The Harry Jerome Awards, performed for The Honorable Lincoln Alexander, and she hosted a documentary called “Hand Made Hand Held” for CBC TV.  Her radio documentary “Flat Belly Blues” was produced for CBC national radio and it also aired on BBC radio in the UK.  Her poetry has been featured at Theatre Passe Muraille, Harbourfront Centre, the Jazz By Genre Series, CBC TV, City TV and countless other radio shows, conferences, galas, festivals, or Imani Enterprises productions.  She has performed in the Nationally Acclaimed show When Sisters Speak, produced by Dwayne Morgan of Up From The Roots several times. She has performed her unique blend of spoken word nationally and internationally.  She has been the headline act at the world famous Nuyorican Café in New York City, she was the featured poet at The Drum in Birmingham, England as part of the Nu Century Arts Live Box Series. She was also chosen to represent Canada at the Centerprise Trust “Word Power” International Black Literary Festival at Arsenal Stadium in London, England. She was the international headliner at the Rapso Festival in Trinidad for two years and In 2010 she received a Canada Council Grant and an OAC grant to do an artist in residence placement  at the University of the West Indies Department of Creative and Festival Arts. During her residency she used theatre improv and movement as a tool to facilitate workshops with the “Wordsmiths” youth outreach program held at UWI.  With a background in the arts and the not for profit sector, she brings a unique flavour to being an artist. She has been doing school tours, and community based workshops since 1986. Her Speaker Series “Artivationally Speaking” uses storytelling, movement and spoken word to spread a positive message. She received a Bob Marley Day Award, in 2006 from Mayor David Millar for her outstanding work in youth outreach and community development.

MC and Producer/Director

Ms. Woods MC and Guest Signature Poet for the Nova Scotia Mass Choir’s 20th Anniversary of “The Dream Continues Tribute to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Burnley Rocky Jones”. She also worked with Vivene Scarlett of Dance Immersion as the Poetic Writer and Narrator for Dance Immersion’s Stellar Showcase Tribute. In 2011 she was a Resident Artist Educator at Young Peoples Theatre and she produced and directed two WORD UP youth Spoken Word and Theatre showcases there. She is now continuing the program  on her own and in 2013 “WORD UP Bring on da Love” was one of the featured shows at Harbourfront Centre’s Kuumba Festival.  2013 proved to be a ground breaking year when along with her other projects she was hired by Daniels Corporation and Artscape to produce, direct, and create the script adaptation for The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization – a series of poetic narratives written by Mitchell Cohen President of Daniels Corporation and members of the Regent Park Community. She was hired again in 2014/15 as production coordinator and writer of the script adaptation of a new version of The Journey and once again this show was a huge success.

Present Day Accomplishments

Ms. Woods continues to present her Anti-Bullying Assemblies and Spoken Word and Literacy Workshops in schools in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Montreal and she is also busy writing theatrical scripts and submitting them to theatres and festivals. She released her latest spoken word CD “Poetree Huggin” in the Fall of 2014 this CD was funded by the Ontario Arts Council’s Word of Mouth Program. She just had two plays on stage in February of 2019. Her play Scotian Journey had a World Premiere in Montreal produced by Black Theatre Workshop and directed by Jamie Robinson. Her other play The Three Friends was on stage as part of the Education Series at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

She Said/He, her theatrical rhapsody on Black Love in Toronto, had its World Premiere in April 2016 at the MAI in Montreal – produced by Black Theatre Workshop and directed by Artistic Director Quincy Armorer. Ms. Woods directed produced and starred in She Said/He Said at the STAGES Theatre Festival (Eastern Front Theatre) in June of the same year and then self produced the production again through Imani Enterprises for a very successful Toronto Premiere which starred Matthe G Brown at Native Earth AKI Studio Theatre in the Fall.

Her future plans include: curating an arts forum for artists suffering from depression,  coordinating a 2-week tour of Scotian Journey in Nova Scotia for 2020, and developing two new plays, Why Black Women Whisper and Tales of a Blinster. She also plans to write her first book of poetry and create a Children’s Cultural Book Series that combines poetry and Caribbean folklore. Woods plans to continue to experience the world through her writing and creativity.