The music industry has never really known how to promote or market Black women who do rock music. Brilliant artists like Sandra St. Victor, Dionne Farris, RES, Meshell Ndegeocello and Kina have consistently been mishandled or flat out disregarded by the industry–even sometimes by the labels who signed them in the first place. I mean, Dionne Farris had a single “I Know,” which was at the top of the pop charts for 4 weeks in 1993, and they waited nearly a year before releaseing another video, which was the monster track from Wild Seed Wild Flower, “Passion.” Most of these artists actually do more than just rock music, their music blends seamlessly from rock to funk to soul and gospel, sometimes in the same damn song (See: Me’shell Ndegeocello’s “Dead N*gga Blvd, Pt 1&2” from the album Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape” for clarification.)
But these women continue to rock on, and rock hard. Many of them have gone independent, and have found continued success by starting their own labels and putting out some really creative and polished records on their own. New York based artists Tamar-Kali and Imani Uzuri began and continue to be independent, all the while building a solid fan base and reputations as (in my not-so-humble opinion) two of the best live shows in New York.
Anyone who knows me, knows that my absolute favorite Black woman musician/artist/vocalist/songwriter/producer is Nashville born queen of the ATL underground, Joi (In the photo above, with one of the best background singers around, Ms. Keisha Jackson). Joi has had similar struggles with record labels while releasing four albums that are nothing short of classics, including the recent Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb. Tennessee Slim is the first record Joi completely produced and distributed on her own label, Joilicious. (Read a recent interview with Joi here. Part 1. Part 2.)
But what I love right now about Joi and Tamar in particular, is that they are lending their names and time and talent this Monday, September 25th to the Willa Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and organization cultivating the next generation of women musicians. They will be playing with some of these youngstas, while paying tribute to thier contemporaries, and those women that paved the way like Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, Nina Simone, Odetta, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Joan Armatrading, Betty Davis, Nona Hendryx, Poly Styrene, MeShell NdegeOcello, Cassandra Wilson. I just bought my tickets for this show. I hope to see you NYC folks there was well. Go here for the details.