Meredith Bell (Palaceburn)
I remember this song from my childhood, yet had no idea a black woman sang it. Awesome!
PussyFoot: Official Website
First Row: Toni Young (photo by Jim Saah), Santi White (photo by Jonathan Wood), Fefe Dobson (photo by Bill King) 2nd Row: Libby Hodges, Yvonne Ducksworth (photo by Denis Barthel)
Toni Young: Toni Young was the bassist for 80s hardcore punk band Red C. The band was part of the 80s Washington DC punk scene, and was featured on the pivotal hardcore compilation Flex Your Head. Tragedy befell the bend in 1985, when Toni died of complications from pneumonia. Suggested Song: Assassin
Santi White: Before Santi White burst onto the indie scene as Santigold, she was in a punk band based out of Pennsylvania called Stiffed. Formed in the early 2000s, the band released two albums – Sex Sells (2003), and Burned Again (2005). Santi also had ties to another black woman rocker Res, helping to co-write and co-produce Res’ debut album How I Do. Santi started her solo career as Santigold in 2007, with the release of her solo debut Santogold. She still releases music as Santigold, with her latest album 99¢ having been released in 2015. More Information: Wikipedia. Suggested Song: What You Gone Do
Fefe Dobson: Fefe Dobson entered the music scene as an 18 year old in 2003, riding the pop punk wave that was in fashion at the time. Her early sound was comparable to other acts out during this period, such as Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne. She’s had a stable career since, having released her last album Joy in 2010. Originally destined by Jive recording executives to be a pop artist, Fefe wanted to take her music in a different direction and left the label as a result. This led to Fefe releasing her debut self-titled album on Island Records instead. More Information: Wikipedia. Suggested Song: Take Me Away
Libby Hodges: Libby Hodges formed the punk band Girl Trash in 1983. The band was all women, and featured Libby as lead singer along with her sister Doni on Guitar, and Julie and Robin Kerry on keyboards and guitar respectively. Libby was influenced by punk bands such as Dead Kennedys, Plasmatics, and black punk band Pure Hell. The band tragically and abruptly ended after the Kerry sisters were attacked and murdered. More Information: Livejournal post, slashmeup post Instagram: vampirelibby
Yvonne Ducksworth: Yvonne is the lead singer for punk/metal German band Jingo De Lunch. The band was formed in 1987, and released several albums in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in addition to live albums in the late 200s. Jingo De Lunch broke up in 2012. Yvonne was also a singer for other punk bands in the early 1980s, including Combat Not Conform and Manson Youth. She is also an actress and TV presenter, appearing on the 1994 show Metalla (which focused on the hardcore and metal scenes) on the German TV channel VIVA. More Information: on Jingo De Lunch – on Yvonne Ducksworth. Suggested Song: Seen and Done
Black women have always been at the forefront of any type of resistance, so it should come as no surprise that there are a number of punk bands (both past and present) who have featured black women in their ranks. As with black women in metal, black women in punk hold down group roles as singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, and more.
Britain is the birthplace of the music genre now known as punk. As such, I wanted to first focus on a few British ladies who rock punk music, including quite a few who are (or were) foremothers in the field.
Pauline Black (The Selecter, top left): Pauline Black (born Belinda Magnus on October 23, 1953 in Romford, London, England) is the founding member of ska band The Selecter. The band was brought to fruition in 1979, a few years after the peak of the initial punk wave. Along with other ska bands such as the Specials and Madness, Black’s The Selecter have been credited with creating the ska revival movement. Black has also appeared on TV as an actress, and wrote her own autobiography entitled Black By Design, which was released in 2011. Suggested Song: On My Radio. Website: http://theselecter.net/. More information: Pauline Black (Wikipedia)
Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex, top middle): Poly Styrene (born Marianne Joan Elliot-Said on July 3, 1957 in Bromley, Kent, England) was the lead singer of the short-lived but highly influential punk band known as X-Ray Spex. Poly got the idea to form the band after seeing the Sex Pistols at a Hastings Pier performance on her birthday in 1976. The band launched their debut single in 1977, but dissolved in 1978 after Poly began having hallucinations. She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Poly released her own solo project in 1980, and continued to put out music and perform until her death from breast cancer on April 25, 2011. Suggested Song: Oh Bondage Up Yours! More information: Poly Styrene (Wikipedia)
Rhoda Dakar (The Bodysnatchers, top right): Rhoda Dakar was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1959. She is best known as the lead singer for the band The Bodysnatchers. The band released their first single in 1979, a double A-side with “Let’s Do Rocksteady” on one side and “Ruder Than You” on the other. The band toured with The Selecter, and collaborated with many other ska bands such as The Specials. Rhoda continues to perform and put out music, with her last album having been released in August 2015 (Rhoda Dakar Sings The Bodysnatchers). Suggested Song: Let’s Do Rocksteady Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhodadakarofficial More information: Rhoda Dakar (Wikipedia)
Kalia Whyte (Youth Man, bottom left): Kalia Whyte is the explosive front woman and guitarist of Birmingham, London based punk band Youth Man. Highly recommended for fans of hardcore punk that makes you want to mosh and scream, and one of my personal favorite bands. Check them out on Bandcamp or on Facebook. Suggested song: Pigs Photo credit: andyhphoto
Beverley Ishmael (The Tuts, bottom right): And last, but certainly not least, there’s punk pop powerhouse The Tuts, featuring Beverley Ishmael on drums. Another one of my personal favorite bands, who I love for their empowering lyrics. Listening to this band will make you want to get out there and emphatically smash the patriarchy, whether you’re male, female, or anything in between. You can find them on Bandcamp and on Facebook, among many other social media outlets. Suggested song: 1982
This is the first part of a dedicated series exploring black women who make punk music. Am I missing anyone here? Let me know in the comments. And stay tuned!
What’s special about these last four ladies is that they perform as solo-acts, crafting their own special sound while rocking out at the same time. This is the conclusion to our Metal series. The other 3 parts of the series can be found by clicking the following links: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
Adore (top left) – One-woman black metal, with artist Adore (Shantell Daggs) playing all of the instruments on her recordings. If you like having your face melted, then definitely check her out! The Facebook page for her project is here: https://www.facebook.com/1adoremusic/
Dohrn (top right) – For even more face-melting, check out Alicia Warrington’s project Dohrn. Completely heavy, completely brutal, and stunningly good. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dohrnmusic/
Omega Sirius Moon (bottom left) – OSM has a grungy sound that crosses over into stoner territory at times. Nice to listen to. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OmegaMoon/
Kudisan Kai (bottom right) – What’s best about Kudisan Kai are her powerful vocals, laid over tight instrumentation that’s as good as any other alternative band out there. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KudisanKai/
Photo Credits: Adore (FB page), Dohrn (FB page), Omega Sirius Moon (http://omegasiriusmoon.tumblr.com/), Kudisan Kai (FB page)
Far from being an anomaly, black women play extremely important roles in a variety of rock acts. This includes a number of metal acts. Here are five more ladies who shred and scream in metal bands. This is a continuation of the Metal series. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.
Dana James (Helms Alee): Dana James plays bass for this stoner/sludge inspired metal band Helms Alee. High-quality music, recommended if you like laid-back metal like Torche and Baroness. Bandcamp page: https://helmsalee.bandcamp.com/
Militia Vox: The lead vocalist for the Judas Priest cover band Judas Priestess, and also works as a solo artist. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/militiaismyname/
Goldgrrl (Erzulie): Lead vocalist for Chicago-based metal band Erzulie and an all-around awesome person. Their sound is reminiscent of Plasmatics-esque punk metal. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ErzulieBand/
Jada Pinkett Smith (Wicked Wisdom): Yes the actress! Besides acting, she is in a heavy metal band called Wicked Wisdom, who got to play Ozzfest a few years back. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OFFICIALWICKEDWISDOM/
Kiyoe Krista Fluker: Guitarist for Harlequin and former bassist for Fortress of Empyrean. Based in Los Angeles. Facebook page for Harlequin: https://www.facebook.com/pg/harlequinofficial/.
Photo Credits: Dana James (Helms Alee Bandcamp Page), Militia Vox (Facebook page), Goldgrrl (Erzulie Facebook page), Jada Pinkett Smith (Wicked Wisdom Facebook Page), Kiyoe Krista Fluker (Harlequin Facebook page)
Part 4 is coming up next week to conclude the series!
This is a continuation of our Black Women In Metal series. View Part 1 here!
Black women instrumentalists are numerous, and play vital roles in a wide variety of metal bands. Here are five more talented black women who rock out the stage.
Alessandra Sbrana – Drummer for Botswana metal band Skinflint. Skinflint represents a vibrant metal scene in the African country, as discussed in this short documentary clip. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SKINFLINTMETAL
Luanna Nascimento – Screamer/vocalist for Brazilian band Visceral Leishmaniasis. One of the most brvtal black women I’ve come across while running this blog. If you’re into death metal and needed to see a black woman as the focal point, this band is for you. You won’t be disappointed. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VisceralLeishmaniasisBrutalDeathMetal
Larissa Pires – Screamer/vocalist for Brazilian band Retaliação Infernal. Another brvtal lady that leads a death metal/grindcore outfit. Anoher one to check out for the more extreme music fans. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RetaliacaoInfernal/
Cierra White – Drummer for several Colorado-based metal bands: Morbid Asphyxiation, Oak Ash and Thorn, and Mount Cairn. Facebook pages for: Morbid Asphyxiation https://www.facebook.com/morbid.asphyxiation, Oak Ash and Thorn: https://www.facebook.com/OakAshAndThornMetal/, and Mount Cairn: https://www.facebook.com/mountcairncobm/
Diamond Rowe – Lead guitarist for Atlanta-based Tetrarch. Beyond awesome at guitar shredding and is awesome live. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tetrarchmusic/
Stay tuned for Part 3 next week!
Photo Credits: Alessandra Sbrana (Skinflint FB Page), Luanna Nascimento (The Female Vocalists of Extreme Music), Larissa Pires (Retaliação Infernal FB Page), Cierra White (Oak Ash & Thorn FB page)
At last, the original RiotGrrl is getting her own documentary — or will, if the funds can be raised to make it happen.
Poly Styrene was the first black woman rocker that I ever knew about, and her band X-Ray Spex was the band that got me into punk rock and changed my life forever. Her story needs to be told, and I am urging anyone that can contribute to this project to do so.
The currency being asked for the campaign is the British pound, but you should be able to donate regardless of your location. I was able to donate in dollars.
Let’s make this happen! The Indiegogo page is here: Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché | Indiegogo
It’s a common misconception that there are few people of color in metal bands, and particularly that there are no black women. In actuality, black women play very prominent roles in these types of bands — either guiding the group with their vocals, or powering through songs as instrumentalists.
Here are four black women who sing lead in metal bands:
Kayla Dixon (top left) – Lead vocalist for Witch Mountain, a doom/stoner metal band. Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/witchmountain/
Cammie Gilbert (top right) – Lead vocalist for Oceans of Slumber, a progressive metal band. Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/oceansofslumber/
Alexis Brown (bottom left) – Lead vocalist for Straight Line Stitch, a metal band from Tennessee (US). Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/straightlinestitch/
Audrey Ebrotié (bottom right) – Lead vocalist for Diary of Destruction, a French metal band. Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/diaryofdestruction/
Part 2 coming next week!
Photo Credits: Kayla Dixon (Hillarie Jason), Cammie Gilbert (Catberry Photography), Alexis Brown (Kevin D. Soney), Audrey Ebrotié (Nicolas Gaire)
What would music be like without the Wild Women that have laid the foundation and those that keep the wildness flowing? We’d honestly never encountered this singing and dancing no-nonsense woman until just recently, and now,Sugar Pie DeSanto, is a mainstay.
Umpeylia Marsema Balinton was born October 16, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York to an African American mother and a Filipino father. Her parents moved their eleven children to San Francisco, California, early on in her life.
In 1955, DeSanto did some touring with The Johnny Otis Revue, and Otis gave her her stage name. From 1959-1960, she toured with The James Brown Revue, where she was once called “Lady James Brown.” Every night, Sugar Pie whipped the crowd in to a frenzy that he needed to make sure to step up his performance to avoid a letdown. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” later said that Sugar Pie made him “wooork!” Also part of the act for the Godfather of Soul was Tina Turnerwho once asked Sugar Pie why she was getting all the applause. Sugar Pie replied, “You gotta mooove girl!”
Living in California, she grew up with Etta James, and when DeSanto’s first marriage to Pee Wee Kingsley fell apart, she moved to Chicago, where both Sugar Pie and Etta were signed to Chess Records. They sang three powerful duets: (Do I Make Myself Clear, Somewhere Down The Line, and In The Basement.) All became hits. While Etta is a household name, Sugar Pie became the hidden gem. Sugar Pie wrote most of her songs, in addition to others for well-known musicians like Fontella Bass, Little Milton, Billy Stewart, Minnie Riperton and many more.
It is said that her stage performances far surpassed her studio recordings, at 4’11” Sugar Pie was small but, she sure carried her own.