Baba Israel was raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He developed as a young artist exploring spoken word, Hip Hop, and experimental performance. He next lived and worked in Australia working on community theatre projects and festivals. During his time in Australia he received a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to produce and perform the Hip Hop Theatre production The Bridge, which was performed in non-traditional venues and toured to juvenile detention centers. He began his career as an arts educator in Australia and has gone on to be a leading educator and consultant working with organisations such as Urban Word, BAM, Dubspot and the University of Madison. He has also worked as a cultural ambassador with the State Department delivering workshops and performances across South East Asia, the south Pacific, and in Gambia and Turkey.
He is co-founder and Artistic Director of Playback NYC Theatre Company who have brought theatre to hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, as well as theatres and festivals. The company is currently developing projects to support immigrant communities in Long Island in a series of performances and workshops funded by the Hagedorn Foundation.
As a theatre and Hip Hop artist he has toured across the US, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia, performing with artists such as Outkast, Philip Glass, Rahzel, Lester Bowie, Afrika Bambaataa, Vernon Reid, and Bill Cosby. His debut solo show Boom Bap Meditations was supported by the Ford Foundation and The Hip Hop Theatre Festival which toured the US and Europe. He has worked on sound design for theatre and dance projects with Renita Martin’s It is the Seeing and Rha Goddess’s Meditations with the Goddess.
He released his debut album Mind Music on Velour records in 2001, followed by collaborative projects with Yako 440 released on Wide Hive Records and on Australian label ear wax.
He is a long time collaborator with Jason Lindner and has toured with Jason’s project Now vs Now and was featured on their debut album produced by Meshell Ndegeocello and mixed by Bob Power.
He was AD/CEO of Contact Theatre in Manchester from 2009-2012. Contact is a leading international organisation at the intersection of the arts and youth leadership. During his tenure he created flagship festivals, directed and produced touring productions, and programmed seasons that focused on innovative and diverse work.
Now back in New York, he is currently embarking on a journey to create a piece inspired by his late father Steve Ben Israel in collaboration with Leo Kay (Unfinished Business) and Yako 440. He is also a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary arts from Goddard in the United States.