Black Women in Punk: British Edition

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

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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!

Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock Indiegogo Campaign

Hi all! I’ve just got word that the good folks behind Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help get their documentary off the ground, and they need YOU to help make it possible!

This project is not directly affiliated with my own, and I found out about them three years after starting my own blog, but I absolutely support what they do and want to help get the word out about them. You can find a treasure trove of interviews and features with various working black rock musicians on their site Nice & Rough. Use their wonderful site as an extra resource to find out more about the plentiful contributions of black women to rock music.

I’ve already contributed to this campaign, and urge you to do the same. As with the Poly Styrene documentary campaign (which recently exceeded its’ set goal), it is very important to get media out there that present the stories of black women who make rock music. Even though we’ve been a part of rock from the start and have given so much to the movement, it’s so easy to make black women invisible in this scene. Projects like these helps to make sure that DOESN’T happen!

The link for the Indiegogo campaign is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/la-shoot-nice-rough-black-women-in-rock/x/16403222#/ If you can give to this project, please give! If you can’t please, please share! Thank you!

Black Women In Metal: Part 4

   

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 1Part 2Part 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)

Black Women In Metal: Part 3

 

 

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!

The Tuts Upcoming Tour!

Hi Folks! Following their stunning debut LP Update Your Brain, The Tuts — everyone’s favorite British punk-istas — are going on a UK tour this May! I haven’t been able to see these ladies live (yet – come to the US, The Tuts!!), but they look like they put on a good show.

UK Peeps, get your tickets at The Tuts’ Official Website — they’re going fast! Tour dates are listed below.

Black Women In Metal: Part 2

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)

Poly Styrene: “I Am A Cliché” Indiegogo Campaign

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

Black Women In Metal: Part 1

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)

BWIR Site Update: Genre Sorting Complete!

Hi Folks — I have finished tagging all of the posts by genre. Hopefully this will help to make this blog a more useful resource for finding information. The available Categories can be found on the main site, by going to www.blackwomeninrock.info.

Let me know if there are any additional comments or suggestions on how this site can be made easier to navigate. Thanks! — Jaleesa

BWIR Site Update: Music Genre Categories To Be Added

Hi All — I’m planning on adding music genre categories to all of the posts. One of the most frequent questions I get from people tends to be related to finding Black Women Rockers who are tied to a specific genre. It has always been my intention that this blog be used as a resource above anything else, and making it easier for you to get the information you are looking for is always a priority.

Tagging the thousands of posts that have accumulated on this blog will take some time, but I will soldier through it and post another update once this process has been completed. The music genres will be listed under the ‘Categories’ section so they can easily be found.

If there’s any features you would like to see here, or if you have any other questions or comments, feel free to reach out to the blog in either the comments section on this post, or by email (jaleesa@blackwomeninrock.info). I always welcome feedback and never mind serving as a sort of librarian to help anyone find information. 🙂

Thanks!

— Jaleesa

Sugar Pie DeSanto

WILD WOMAN:  SUGAR PIE DESANTO

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.

Words from Howl Growl Moan

Picture Sources: Blues Blog (Tumblr), Soul Train (Tumblr), Classic Ladies of Color (Tumblr)