Shaun Boothe uses hip-hop to share stories of cultural icons at Black History Month event

Creator of Unauthorized Biography Series appeared virtually

Photo Caption: Award-winning hip-hop artist and TEDx speaker Shaun Boothe discusses and performs his music project 'The Unauthorized Biography Series' which recognizes cultural icons through rap songs, on Tuesday, Feb. 24 in the French Auditorium.

Shaun Boothe, creator of the Unauthorized Biography Series, a TEDx speaker and hip-hop recording artist held a virtual event in the French Auditorium on Feb. 24.

The purpose of Boothe’s discussion, he said, is to inform others about the lives of cultural icons by using hip-hop to tell stories.

“I’ve created a series where I tell the life stories of the world’s greatest heroes and leaders, all through biographical rap songs,” Boothe said.

Over forty people attended the presentation for which Boothe appeared live on-screen.

Boothe, who has shared the stage with artists like Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar, started the presentation with a song about Martin Luther King Jr.

He sang lyrics describing MLK's life and Barack Obama's election to president while images and videos filled the background behind him.

Audience members listen to Shaun Boothe during a presentation of his Unauthorized Biography Series in the French Auditorium on Feb. 24.

When the song finished, Boothe spoke about MLK and Obama's ability to surpass the labels others created for them.

“It’s not how other people saw them,” Boothe said. “It’s what they saw in themselves that truly made a difference."

In the second performance, Boothe presented a song honoring Muhammad Ali.

Boothe described Ali’s name change, draft refusal and his favorite quote by the boxer, “Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee."

The third song he sang was about Oprah Winfrey. Boothe said he was inspired by Winfrey’s childhood, the extreme poverty she experienced and her rise to fame.

“Never once did she use any of those challenges as excuses to not rise,” Boothe said. 

He sang about her name change from Orpah to Oprah and about the time she ran away from home. Boothe finished with his most memorable moment of Oprah’s career, when she donated a car to every member of her audience during a talk show.

The presentation closed with a song describing his appreciation of Bob Marley's message. It covered Marley’s rise to fame and the singer's death after being diagnosed with cancer. 

“That message of one love. That message of unity," Booth said. “That’s what he was about."

When the Unauthorized Biography Series started, Boothe said that it was to gain popularity and fame in the hip-hop world. 

But he said his perspective has since changed. He said he believes people should strive to make change in the world like the icons he sang about have done.

Learn more about Boothe and his work on his website