Artist Bio

The Cypher Poets—Jacob, Lyrispect and George—are friends who met performing at poetry slams in Philadelphia. All of them grew up listening to hip-hop, and their work is influenced by rap music’s rhythms and rhyme schemes. Cypher is a word from hip-hop culture that means a circle where people share raps, poems, dances, and ideas.

Jacob Winterstein is a poet, performer, teaching artist, host, and freestyle rapper. He has traveled to 25 countries and always comes home to Philadelphia, where he was born, raised, and educated. Jacob has represented Philadelphia at the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Red Bull Word Clash Poetry Competition, and is a winner of the Philadelphia Poet VS MC freestyle competition. He has taught poetry, performance, and freestyling since 2006 at schools, universities, community centers, and jails. He is a Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly 2012 winner and a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge 2013 winner. He also is the co-director of Camp Bonfire, a summer camp for adults.

Nina “Lyrispect” Ball is an award-winning writer/poet and renaissance woman who seeks to empower and provoke transformation and discovery through meaningful work in the arts. Lyrispect employs activism as an organizer, performer, producer, and teaching artist. She received her B.A. at Temple University as a Film and African-American Studies major after graduating from the highly competitive Baltimore School for the Arts as a classically trained theater major. Lyrispect has performed from coast to coast, from concerts, museums, and black-tie galas to school and church assemblies. She has shared broadcasts and stages with Mos Def/Yasin Bey, Saul Williams, Julius Garvey (son of Marcus Garvey), The Last Poets, Eric Benet, and Ursula Rucker, to name a few.

George is a multi Philadelphia grand poetry slam champion. He has represented Philadelphia at the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Southern Fried Poetry Slam. He has spent over ten years working with young people in after-school programs, summer camps, and youth outreach programs.