Loading Programs

« All Programs

  • This Program has passed.

Jazz Poetry Month: Bad Activist

September 20, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

Vietnamese singer Mai Khoi

There are two ways to watch the program: in-person at our venue Alphabet City or live-streamed online. Please scroll to the bottom to review our Covid-19 safety policies for indoor programs @ Alphabet City, including the proof of vaccination requirement.


Mai Khoi: Bad Activist
Run time: 120 minutes
Country of origin: Vietnam
Language: English & Vietnamese with subtitles

Bad Activist is an autobiographical performance piece, combining storytelling with state-of-the-art music performance. The narrative charts the extraordinary trajectory of Mai Khoi’s life—from renowned to Vietnamese pop star to dissident activist, fighting for artistic freedom in Vietnam and pitting herself against the strong arm of the communist government. In the face of political titans, international powers, and constant surveillance and threat, Khoi develops a unique art form. Her new sound is rooted in forgotten Vietnamese musical traditions fused with jazz and ripe with political song lyrics.

Unable to safely live and work in Vietnam, Mai Khoi is currently an Artist Protection Fund Fellow at City of Asylum and the University of Pittsburgh. This performance of Bad Activist features collaborators from the University of Pittsburgh’s PhD in jazz, and all new arrangements for larger bands.

About Mai Khoi

Image of Vietnamese singer Mai Khoi holding a guitar.
Mai Khoi

Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese artist and activist. She rose to stardom in 2010 after winning the Vietnam Television song and album of the year awards. Several years later she became increasingly uncomfortable having to submit her work to government censors and, thinking she could reform the system from within, nominated herself to run in the National Assembly elections on a pro-democracy platform. Her campaign sparked a nationwide debate about political participation. Today, she leads efforts to promote freedom of artistic expression in Vietnam for which she was awarded the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent. Her activism has, however, come at a high price and it is no longer safe for Mai Khoi to live in Vietnam. To date Mai Khoi has released eight albums. She has toured the US, Europe, Australia and Taiwan.

Featured Musicians:

  • Ramin Akhavijou (electronics) 
  • Ben Barson (baritone saxophone) 
  • Tom Chess (jaw harp) 
  • Hugo Cruz (percussion) 
  • Mark Michelli (keys) 
  • Eli Namay (contra bass) 
  • Devon Osamu Tipp (shakuhachi flute)


Covid-19 policies for indoor programs [at Alphabet City] as of September 1, 2021

  • To keep our audience safe, we will require proof of vaccination (physical card or photo) to attend all events at Alphabet City.
  • There will be special accommodations for children under 12 and people with medical conditions or religious beliefs preventing them from being vaccinated. These audience members will be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time.
  • All guests will be required to wear masks.
  • Audience size will be limited to 60% total capacity and seats will be set up with moderate social distancing.
Share this:


September 20, 2021
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT
Program Category:


City of Asylum
(412) 435-1110
View Organizer Website


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
+ Google Map

Want to follow news about theExiled Writer and Artist Residency Program at City of Asylum? Sign up for our email list to receive news updates, information about our upcoming programs, and more!

Join Our Newsletter

Subscribe to email updates on upcoming events, new bookstore releases, and more.