Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint, and, in the past, has released music under various other labels such as Relativity, Geffen and GOOD Music, among others.
Common’s first major-label album, Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and tremendous commercial success. His first Grammy Award was in 2003, winning Best R&B Song for “Love of My Life”, with Erykah Badu. Its popularity was matched by May 2005’s Be, which was nominated for Best Rap Album, at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Common was awarded his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for “Southside” (featuring Kanye West), from his July 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of album, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common, was released on November 27, 2007.
Common won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song, for his song “Glory” from the 2014 film Selma, in which he co-starred as Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel. Common’s acting career also includes starring significant roles in the films Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, New Year’s Eve and Run All Night. He also narrated the award-winning documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man’s efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He starred as Elam Ferguson on the AMC western television series Hell on Wheels.
*For Common’s live musical performances, please contact Creative Artists Agency
SPEECH TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS
A Grammy-award winning rap artist, poet, lyricist and actor, Common is also a dedicated community activist who supports animal rights and HIV/AIDS awareness among many other causes. He is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower underprivileged urban youth to become strong and productive citizens. The foundation offers programs that foster the development of leadership skills, creative expression and a commitment to education. Common engages audiences with stories of his childhood on the South Side of Chicago and the obstacles he overcame. Drawing upon his own hard work and path to success, he helps audiences understand how to strive for and achieve greatness by making a commitment to a greater cause.
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- Started the Common Ground Foundation in 2002
- Spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the importance of art in society today
- Recently won an Emmy Award for his song “Letter to the Free” for the documentary “13th”
- Donated $10,000 to the Renaissance School of the Arts in Harlem after partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org and Burlington Stores