Derrick Ashong Musician, Social Entrepreneur

Musician & Social Entrepreneur Derrick N. Ashong - or DNA as he is sometimes known - is literally the voice of a new generation. Whether heard in the eloquent expression of his thoughts on Senator Barack Obama (as seen in one of the most viewed videos of 2008 on YouTube), in his music (as leader of the emerging band Soulfège), or in his lyrics (he won Billboard Magazine's 2007 World Song Writing Competition), the Harvard educated talent has found myriad ways to inspire, engage and activate young people with positive messages for social change.

Described by as "a spirit of promise and hope and harmony" DNA's band Soulfège is a critically-acclaimed, refreshingly original and exciting group of musicians who produce an eclectic blend of Hip-Hop, Reggae, Funk, World Beat and West African Highlife music to create an integral musical mélange of style and substance. Their CD Take Back the Mic debuted in the top 10 of the Magazine Radio Chart and the top 100 of the JazzWeek World Chart. The music and movement have been featured in such major media as MTV Africa, NPR, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, MNet Africa, ABC Chronicle and BBC Worldservice, reaching 146 million listeners worldwide.

A true Renaissance man, DNA has lived in such locations as Brooklyn, New York, Voorhees, New Jersey and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and currently resides in Los Angeles. As a college student he was cast in Stephen Spielberg’s 1997 film, Amistad. He returned to Cambridge to finish his degree requirements before pursuing a Ph.D. in African-American Studies and Ethnomusicology, later leaving the doctoral program to pursue his artistry and advocacy full-time.

Ashong has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Mo’Nique Show, and lectured on five continents on the use of media as a tool for human development, including recent talks for the UN Foundation, London School of Economics, King's College (Cambridge), the Reconciliation Forum in Washington, D.C., the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and before UK Parliament on the subject of "The Obama Generation." He is a member of the internationally recognized Americas Business Council (*abc) Fellowship and has been a TED Global Fellow, a participant in the Arts & Entertainment task force of the U.S.-Islamic World Forum and is the CITI Performing Arts Center's first Spectrum Boston Fellow. He is the founder of Take Back the Mic, a youth-centered cultural movement that leverages the power of artistry & technology to empower young people. DNA is also on the Board of Directors for Children Mending Hearts, an organization dedicated to the global arts exchange between at-risk children in the United States and children living in conflict zones around the world.