MTSU will wrap up its stellar Black History Month events with a Grammy Award-nominated keynote speaker. David Banner will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Student Union Ballroom.
The multitalented Banner, who was born Lavell William Crump in Jackson, Mississippi, has distinguished himself as a singer, composer, producer and actor.
Following his days as part of the rap duo Crooked Lettaz in the late 1990s, Banner broke out on his own with his debut solo album "Them Firewater Boyz, Vol. 1" in 2000. The single "Like a Pimp" received major airplay.
In addition to his innovations in the recording industry, Banner is an outspoken activist and commentator on African-American issues and culture. In a June 29, 2018, article in Billboard magazine, Banner encouraged hip-hop artists to strive for more balance in their lyrical depictions of black people.
"Talk about more than the stereotypical things white people think about us," Banner said. "'Cause really what we're doing is pandering to white people ... So we need balance, you feel me? We don't want to broadcast to the world that black people are just one way."
Banner's current album, "The God Box," includes a symphony orchestra and attacks racism, police brutality, misogyny and the co-opting of black music by white artists. He financed it with his own money in order to have the kind of creative control he fears is disappearing in the digital era.
"We've allowed the artists to not get paid anymore -- they get paid fractions of pennies -- and we pay big corporations instead," Banner told Billboard. "Now we have to beg companies to pay (big streaming services) to stream our music, and then they give them the money! That's not right! But if you say anything about it, then you get shut out."
Banner's acting credits include the films "The Experiment," "The Butler" and "Ride Along" and the music video for the song "Confessions" by Lecrae. He has produced music for such artists as T.I., Jill Scott, Chris Brown, Maroon 5, Lil Wayne and Ne-Yo, among others.
For more information, contact Daniel Green, director of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and chair of the MTSU Black History Month Committee, at 615-898-5812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.