Queen Mother Imakhu has nurtured many generations through the arts. She built her career not only upon her diverse talents, but also upon her wit and love of people. Because of this, she has crossed many chasms as an artist committed to healing the community. Throughout her career, Queen Mother has performed shows and presented workshops at theaters, festivals, schools, libraries, TV... She is known to the world by her appointed African title, Queen Mother Imakhu, and to her Latino audience as Reina Madre (Queen Mother in Spanish).
Born Elaine Lloyd in Elizabeth, NJ, raised in Kenilworth, New Jersey, Queen Mother began her professional career at age fifteen singing and playing guitar. In spite of her vocal, instrumental, theater, and dance training, Queen Mother says she received her best honing as a solo vocalist, storyteller and concert performer in the Baptist Church. ("If you can move a Baptist congregation you can perform ANYWHERE!" she says). The following year she was the reluctant title winner of the Miss Black Fantasia pageant (her mother entered her against her wishes).
Queen Mother continued performing in diverse venues, including theater. At age eighteen, she accepted an offer after graduating high school to jump right into the business by performing on gospel/R&B singer Billy Scott's album as a background vocalist, instrumentalist (flute, sax, percussion) and musical arranger. She has hit the ground running ever since. As an actress, Queen Mother has appeared in shows including THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG, WORKING, KINSWOMEN, THE COLORED MUSEUM. Phases of '97 to '99 found Queen Mother touring the East and West coast as Charlayne in the musical AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' directed by A. Curtis Farrow (producer of McDonald's GospelFest). Queen Mother in recent years has presented her original One-Woman productions, WEDNESDAY'S AFRICAN CHILD: GOTH TALES OF MY BLACK PEOPLE and RENEGADE VOICE FROM THE MYTHIC MOSAIC, and has continued to perform/create sacred theatre, and presents African storytelling in mainstream theater & cabaret.
Queen Mother has choreographed numerous dance and theater performances, including Once on This Island, Damn Yankees, Once upon a Mattress, West Side Story, Hello Dolly, and They're Playing Our Song. She served as director/choreographer of the liturgical Praise Dance group, The JOYFUL PRAISERS of Anderson Baptist Church in Anderson, New Jersey (1992-1995). During that same time, Queen Mother founded and directed her own multi-generational, liturgical dance group, HARMONIC ESSENCE, which honored universal spiritual themes. Queen Mother was also lead African dancer and a principal drummer for Ghanaian drummer/entertainer Maxwell Kofi Donkor and his group SANKOFA. In 1995 Iya Imakhu joined IT EXPRESSES ME (I.E.M.), Lehigh Valley, PA's only African American theater ensemble. She served as a director, choreographer, producer, and technical advisor for I.E.M's 1st Anniversary Performance. Thereafter in the same year, Queen Mother retired HARMONIC ESSENCE to found, direct, produce and write for her new theater/performance ensemble, THE ZAWADI COLLECTIVE, which she retired after its tenth anniversary. Queen Mother is former member of the popular performance duo JUXTURES! (with Steven Riccardelli), which celebrated world cultures through music, storytelling and dance (1990-98), seen in schools, libraries, theaters, festivals and on TV. She also co-hosted JUXTURES: The Radio Show, featuring topical talk and music on WDVR-FM & public radio in New Jersey. Queen Mother eventually hosted/produced her own topical/spoken word/music show, Reaching for the Sky, for WLVR-FM public radio in Bethlehem, PA. She went on to host/produce four Internet radio shows in 2003 (ASHE!, GRACE OF THE GRIOT, SANKOFA SPIRITUALITY for October Gallery.com, JALI! JALIYA! and SANKOFA SPIRITUALITY for BlakeRadio.com). Queen Mother also co-hosted the AM radio show, ETCHINGS on WHAT-AM in Philadelphia. Overall, she has interviewed such notables as Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Dr. Laiola Afrika. Dr. Muata Ashby, THE LAST POETS' Abiodun Oyewole, Ramona & Pam Afrika of MOVE, Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj se Ptah, Herbert Harris, SPEECH of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. ASHE! became syndicated, and heard on a number of top ranked Internet radio stations along with her metaphysical show NUBIA GODDESS RISING. Queen Mother Imakhu eventually used her radio experience to create the Internet radio station, AKERU NuAfrakan Network (TM), and became the first Conscious Black Female Internet station owner/producer.
In 2001 Queen Mother was the subject for the cover article in NEW VISIONS MAGAZINE. As a writer, Queen Mother was columnist and staff writer for the paper FIRST WORLD NEWS, read in Philadelphia, New York City, Trenton, Newark, and the Lehigh Valley/Poconos area. She also served as columnist for PAINT magazine. Her article, "African Origins of Global Fae Traditions" was published in 2011in the U.K.'s FAE Magazine. She is a popular poet/spoken word artist, known for her sense of wordplay and deep insights into African American life, and the human condition.
Queen Mother served as moderator for a panel discussion of distinguished African American women following the U.S. premiere of the bio film, "The Eyes of the Rainbow: Assata Shakur and Oya," about the life of activist Assata Shakur (2003). The event was hosted by the Million Woman March organization. In 2002 Queen Mother, along with musicians of the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra, accompanied Sonia Sanchez and Marvin X in, "In the Crazy House." Queen Mother and The Zawadi Collective performed at Philly's Babatunde Olatunji/Mongo Santamaria Homegoing Celebration (2003), where many nationally known drummers and artists honored the passing of the two drumming legends. Queen Mother also drummed with South African drummer Mahwane Maolele and the ensemble TYEHIMBA. Queen Mother became known as, "The Little Lady Who Can Play That Drum." As a career storyteller, Queen Mother Imakhu credits her talents to her family and their North and South Carolina roots. "My (maternal) grandfather and his brothers would keep the family both mesmerized and in stitches when they got together. I learned a lot from them..." She also attributes her abilities to her beloved South Carolinian father, who masterfully held power over listeners with verbal color and charisma. She was a member of KEEPERS OF THE CULTURE, Philadelphia's storytelling guild dedicated to the preservation of African culture.
Queen Mother founded and ran the youth studio, The Performance Workshop (1990-94). She served as dance/theater teacher at Warren County School of the Arts (1995). From 1990 - 2000, Queen Mother served as a workshop presenter (theater, dance, music), and adjudicator for NJ Teen Arts Festival throughout several counties. She also served as Arts Programming Director at the Easton, PA Boys & Girls Club in 2001. Queen Mother has taught for Point Breeze Performing Arts Center's summer and after school programs, and their art for the disabled youth program (2003 - 2004); for Boys & Girls Club of Trenton, NJ; for The Garvey Charter School of Trenton, NJ; and the city of Trenton's SCOOP after school program (all Trenton in 2005). Queen Mother says some of her most gratifying work was when she taught for Afrikan Poetry Theatre of Queens (2007 - 2009), through whom she was subcontracted to teach her African-themed art therapy program to senior citizens, and to at-risk youth for the Department of Juvenile Justice in citywide detention homes and Lower Manhattan Courthouse. Queen Mother was recognized by the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice for her successful program.
A dynamic motivational speaker and lecturer, and workshop presenter, Queen Mother is the author of the self-empowerment book, THE COWRIE BLESSINGS BOOK: NU AFRAKAN WORDS OF WISDOM , and of UNDERSTANDING KEMETIC (EGYPTIAN) SPIRITUALITY. Her music CDs are receiving worldwide airplay on Internet and public radio stations.
Queen Mother was producer/host of TV show, ASHE!, highlighting African diasporic culture, DIY info, healthy recipes, bargain shopping tips, and personal self-empowerment. Her upcoming show, "ASHE Too!" is her webisode series aimed at youth audiences, celebrating art and the art of living. Through her production company, AKERU MultiMedia, Queen Mother produces her programming, multimedia products, and her visual art.
Queen Mother has been immortalized in the new, contemporary tarot deck, TAROT OF THE BOROUGHS, where she depicts the Queen of Cups in six of the cards.
In 2003, Queen Mother led the Mother Bethel Church and street processional in Philadelphia, PA for the famed Rites of Ancestral Return, dancing as an Egun/Shepsu (revered Ancestor), depicting the freed spirit of an Ancestor who was previously held in captivity (slavery). This nationally welcomed commemoration marked the final internment of hundreds of African Ancestors whose remains were discovered in New York. Some of the remains had been taken to Howard University for study. A major city processional to mark the return of these Ancestors, now in African carved caskets, started in Washington, DC and ended in New York City. Queen Mother considered this honor to be the most humbling experience of her life.
Spiritually, Queen Mother, an ordained Interfaith minister, has embraced her African origins. A practitioner of the Shenu-Khametic faith, she is founder and head minister of Shenu En Khu (Universal Circle of Light) Ministries an artist's spiritual organization teaching peace, compassion, and empowerment. Her online school is Shenu Art & Yoga Sanctuary.
The Khametic title "Sunut" (Learned One; Doctor) was conferred upon her. In her continuous studies and work to preserve the truth and integrity of African-centered culture, Rev. Dr. Queen Mother Imakhu created the inspirational deck, "Tep Ra Renu: Shenu-Khametic Rune Oracle." Queen Mother is a certified yoga instructor. She is also founder of a Khametic Yoga path called, "IuGah Shenu." Her classes have been presented to, and practiced by, adults, youth, the elderly, and disabled populations.
Queen Mother defines herself in Khametic language as, "Hemut (Artist/Artisan), Sebait (Teacher), ih Seshmi-t Her-t (and Peace Maker)." Living out her teachings of "Love in Action," Queen Mother is a member of the activist groups People's Organization for Progress, Latino Action Network, and the Newark Mayor's Interfaith Alliance. She attributes her activism to her lineage, which includes Billy Artis, confidante of Nat Turner, and major participant in the Nat Turner Rebellion. "In order to bring about change in the world, you must bring change to your world," Queen Mother affirms.
Queen Mother returns to the Sonic Explorations music program this fall to teach her African drumming, voice, and songwriting to youth in Orange, NJ for Sonic Explorations music program (under the umbrella of Montclair State University). She taught drumming to Elementary School students for Ironbound Community Corporation's afterschool and summer school programs. She presented her "Khamet in the Classroom" educational segment at the monthly Black History Month program, P.O.P.C.O.R.N. KIDZ (founded and directed by Sandra Hayward), at Irvington Library, Irvington, NJ. She continues to tour, performing and presenting workshops in a variety of venues.
As a filmmaker and event producer who is committed to peace building through multimedia education, Queen Mother founded the Shenu Illumination Film Festival, which debuts in January 2019.
Finally, Queen Mother Elaine Lloyd-Nazario is happily married to filmmaker Ramon G. Nazario, founder of Newark Latino Film Festival, LLC (where she serves as executive producer) and Newark Puerto Rican Film Festival, LLC. They reside in N.J.