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Spoken word artist George Watsky to perform April 24

April 18, 2012

EAU CLAIRE — Spoken word artist George Watsky, whose viral "Pale Kid Raps Fast" video has more than 18 million views on YouTube, will perform April 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The University Activities Commission of the Student Senate will present his show at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium. Admission is free and open to all.

A writer and performer from San Francisco now based in Los Angeles, Watsky aims to cross-pollinate the stage, screen and stereo with work that speaks to the humor and frustrations of modern life.

"On stage, Watsky offers the clean-cut Gen-Y angst of Michael Cera channeled through the rapid-fire flow of the poetry-slam star that he is," wrote the Boston Globe.

Watsky was the 2006 Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion as well as the 2006 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion and performed in a record six consecutive Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals. In 2007, while he was a college freshman, Watsky was featured on the final season of "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry" on HBO, and in 2009 he was one of three poets who performed live on FOX at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of Simmons' lifetime achievement award.

Watsky has emerged as part of a vanguard of artists involved in the sustainability movement. The inaugural Speak Green winner for poetry on climate change, he was twice invited by Robert Redford to perform in Sundance, Utah. He hosted Green Mic in San Jose, Calif., and the culminating concert of Powershift 2007 in Washington, D.C. Watsky performed at Rock the Debate in Oxford, Miss., before the first presidential debate of 2008. His work has brought him to the opening plenary of Green Cities 2008 in Sydney, Australia, and Greenbuild Chicago, where he took the stage immediately before President Bill Clinton.

Watsky's debut poetry collection and CD, "Undisputed Backtalk Champion," was published in 2006 and is currently in its fourth printing. His one-man show, "So Many Levels," has been presented in Boston, San Francisco, Vermont and at the Hip Hop Theater Festival Critical Breaks series in New York City. His play "Harold's Fall or King Will" received the 2009 Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship. In 2009 he created "Where the Magic Happens," an interactive one-man show that begins with the audience being instructed to turn on their cellphones.

Rapping under the name Watsky, he released a jazz-hip hop record with his band, Invisible Inc., and his own self-titled 2009 album peaked at No. 7 on the iTunes hip hop charts. In January 2011 Watsky's fast rapping went viral and led to two appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and a slot on "Last Call with Carson Daly." Watsky's social media presence made him one of only 23 artists dubbed a "Big Sound of 2011" by online music provider Next Big Sound, along with Mac Miller, Kreayshawn and Skrillex.

"YouTube is an unparalleled opportunity to get material to a lot of people all over the world," Watsky told Tubefilter News. "As technology changes and opens new platforms I think it's important for an artist who wants to reach a wide audience to embrace the medium of their time. In Shakespeare's lifetime that was theater. In Dickens' it was probably the novel. At the turn of the century it was film. I believe the medium of our era is becoming the Web video, and more and more, people are going to be turning that way for their entertainment."

The University Activities Commission's Special Events Committee is bringing Watsky to UW-Eau Claire in conjunction with English Festival, a weeklong celebration of language and art, April 23-27.

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JS/DW

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