One of my favorite hobbies in my free time is looking up black women musicians to check out. I do this because I think it’s important for black folks to surround themselves with diverse images of black artists particularly because we live in a culture that actively seeks to erase our contributions and diversity.
Also, I’m a huge music fan. I used to be in a rock band in high school and college [I played the drums, and eventually played the guitar] so I’m quite fond of live, loud music, especially when women are playing.
One of the issues that many folks have when looking for black musicians, is that indie music scenes are generally white-washed.
In an article on Pitchfork titled “The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie” the author writes:
“In indie rock, white is the norm. While indie rock and the DIY underground, historically, have been proud to disassociate themselves from popular culture, there is no divorcing a predominantly white scene from systemic ideals ingrained in white Western culture. That status quo creates a barrier in terms of both the sanctioned participation of artists of color and the amount of respect afforded them, all of which sets people of color up to forever be seen as interlopers and outsiders.”
Because of this, I constantly make it my political duty to highlight black artists with every platform I have access to.
Wear Your Voice has done a great job spotlighting black women musicians already, and here are a few more of my favorites that you should check out:
1. Big Joanie
I can’t tell you enough how much I absolutely love Big Joanie. I was initially exposed to their music through Afropunk, an amazing resource that routinely spotlights black artists and musicians. I fell in love with their songs and immediately contacted them to see if I could use their music for my comedy web-series “Black Feminist Blogger” which they agreed to.
With their DIY, punk aesthetic and rocking voices, Steph, Chardine, and Kiera have permanently secured a spot on the map of punk music due to their unique sounds, their trendy look, and unforgettable melodies.
With features on For Harriet, Afropunk, the F Word, and more, the women in Big Joanie are well on their way to mainstream success. What strikes me about them [at least from previous email conversations] is that they are so humble and slightly shocked that people from around the world are catching onto their music.
What makes them even more unique is their politicization of issues affecting women of color, as well as their commitment to feminism. Make sure you “like” their Facebook page and check out their Bandcamp page as well where you can purchase their Sistah Punk EP.
2. Adia Victoria
A friend of mine introduced me to this musician and I have fallen in love with her sound and voice. She was listed on Rolling Stone‘s “10 New Artists You Need to Know: January 2015.” Her song “Stuck in the South” feels like a bluesy southern ballad that accurately captures the frustration those of us black women feel living down here in the hot, sticky, humid southern terrain.
In the article with Rolling Stone, she says:
“I think I bring to the table a voice not given much attention. As a marginally employed, self-driven woman of color there aren’t many microphones being shoved in my face or chances to speak my own truth.”
Check out her Facebook page here for updates.
3. Valerie June
Known for her soulful sound, skilled guitar playing, and gorgeous locs, Valerie June is a force to be reckoned with. Taking on topics that impact black women in particular, June has a sharp,unique voice that is definitely something to experience.
I had the pleasure of seeing her play live a year ago and she was absolutely captivating. She has a bluegrass, folk sound with a voice that sounds like it’s from a different era. Her song, “Workin’ Woman Blues” is one of my favorite songs:
Based in Seattle, THEESatisfaction is a dynamic musical group composed of queer artists Stasia “Stas” Irons and Catherine “Cat” Harris-White. THEESatisfaction is a hip hop/R&B duo known for their “funk-psychedelic feminist sci-fi epics with the warmth and depth of Black Jazz and Sunday morning soul, frosted with icy raps that evoke equal parts Elaine Brow, Ursula Rucks, and Q-Tip.”
They recently went on tour with Sleater-Kinney and were spotlighted on Bitch Magazine. They are well on their way to achieving mainstream success because their music is hypnotic and groovy. Here’s one of my favorite music videos of ALL time directed by Dream Hampton:
Make sure to “like” their Facebook page.
Who are some of your favorite black women musicians?