Voza Rivers is a leading African-American theater, music, and events producer as well as an award winning documentary filmmaker.
Presently, Rivers is Chairman/CEO VOZ Entertainment Group; Executive Producer/Founding Member, New Heritage Theatre Group (f/k/a/ Roger Furman Theatre, New York City’s oldest Black not-for-profit theater); Co-Founder/Executive Producer, IMPACT Repertory Theatre; Executive Producer, Harlem Week and the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival; Co-Chairman, Community Works an arts and education program servicing 250,000 New York City students and adults annually and Chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance, a cultural service organization of 400 members, including not-for-profit and for-profit cultural institutions, performing and visual artists, filmmakers, directors, playwrights, choreographers, technicians, designers, colleges, churches, museums, taverns and other creative persons and organizations who create cultural events for Harlemites, tourists and tri-state residents that attracts an audience in excess of 2 million.
As Executive Producer, Rivers produces all of the major events for Harlem Week, the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival and the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame Annual Gala. As a skilled entertainment professional, He has produced and co-produced numerous theatre, music and television projects, film festivals; music tributes.
A partial listing of Rivers’ productions includes:
Mbongeni Ngema’s, the TONY and Grammy nominated hit Broadway musical “Sarafina,” “Township Fever,” the OBIE award winning “Woza Albert!: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and Romeo and Juliet” (featuring leading Black actors from the Royal Court Theatre Company and Royal National Theatre in England); the Tony nominated “Asinamali!,” the Obie Award winning play the “Huey P. Newton Story” at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture in Harlem; AVANTI blending opera jazz & symphonic orchestra featuring Kenn Hicks with Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock at Jazz at Lincoln Center; 2006 Jazz for Peace, East Meets West featuring the High Society Orchestra with music students from Waseda University in Tokyo, and award-winning jazz composer, arranger and instrumentalist, Harlemite Craig Harris, at the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture; 2005 Jazz for Peace, East Meets West and Tocho Swing Beats and Frank Foster and his minority loud band; God’s Trombones featuring Craig Harris with special guest artist Avery Brooks at the Apollo Theatre; and several PBS, BBC, NBC and Starz Encore cable presentations; television and video shorts; specials and documentaries.
River’s past positions include: Executive Producer, Committed Artists United States (responsible for managing, marketing, and co-producing all of the activities for 100 South African actors and musicians world wide). As the primary point person for key international events, Rivers has produced projects in Japan, South Africa and the UK as well as local and national events.
In April 2005, Rivers, for the Harlem Arts Alliance co-produced with Columbia University and Barnard College the United States premier of renowned international director Peter Brook’s critically acclaimed production of Tierno Bokar in Harlem and in May 2005, Rivers was the commencement speaker at Columbia University’s School of the Arts graduation ceremony.
In the music and live genre arenas, Rivers has produced music events and concerts featuring world-renowned artists. A partial listing includes: Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Ruby Dee, Luther Vandross, James Brown, The Count Basie Orchestra, Ray Charles, Ashford and Simpson, Boy George, George Benson, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Isaac Hayes, Little Jimmy Scott, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, Kool and the Gang, Hugh Masekela, Boyz II Men, Tony Bennett, Anita Baker, Chuck Jackson, Max Roach, Gloria Lynne, Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Dionne Warwick, Manhattan Transfer, Toni Braxton, Jonathan Butler, Phyllis Hyman, Grover Washington, Jr., and Chaka Khan.
A partial listing of awards received by Rivers includes:
Rivers has received the following awards for his achievements as a producer and mentor: United Nations Medal for Peace; the FEDAPT Award (sponsored by the League of American Theatres and Producers); 1989 Grammy nomination for the “Sarafina” cast album; 1996 Ruth Whitehead Whaley Award from the Association of Black Women Attorneys for Community Service; 1998 Harlem Jazz & Music Festival Tiffany Award; 1999 N Y 1 Television “New Yorker of the Week”; 2000 Career Day Award from Riverside Church; 2000 AUDELCO Outstanding Pioneer Award in Theater; 2000 New York Foundation for the Arts Union Square Award; the 2002 Omega Psi Phi, Xi Phi Chapter “Citizen of the Year” Award; the 2002 Kwanzaa Foundation Nguzo Saba Award for Creativity; the 2002 National Conference of Artists – NCA NY Chapter Leadership Award; Samaritan Foundation 2003 distinguished Humanitarian Award; a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Arts Achievement Award; and 2006 African Voices Magazine Theater Award.