I don’t know everything, and that’s where I rely on you all (the readers!) to fill in the gaps. Recently, a reader emailed me a few bands that are led by black women, all of whom I knew nothing about previously. The person doesn’t have any social media that I can shout out, but Jean-Philippe, thank you for sending this information to me!
This is a paste directly from the email. A lot of what Jean-Philippe has to say is deep and relevant, so I’m including most of what was sent here. I love when people send me bands to feature, so if you know of any rock band with a black woman (or women!) in it that hasn’t been featured on this site, please send me an email! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi ! My name is Jean-Philippe from Montreal.
I’ve bought Laina Dawes book ”What are doing here ?” and i must say i learn a LOT not only about the implication and the hard battles that black womens have to endure to making sure they have their place in the scene (punk#HC#Metal) but about the difficulties that these warriors have to face also in front of the relatives (families/friends/etc.) because of the ”akward” choice to love a music who is supposes to be dedicated to the ”masses” but in reality, for black womens, have to front, once again, another form of elitism if not discrimination and racism.
Inspired by the book, i’ve found your web site and i must say it is something that i was definitively missing…. Still A LOT to learn.
Being a punk/HC fan (my knowledge in metal is just awful), here’s some bands i’ve known who black womens were members :
1- WISIGOTH (Late 90’s Montreal). If you don’t know this band, i think you will really like. Zahra is the ”growl” voice in the dual vocals of this crust/punk/metal band.2- BRIGADA FLORES MAGON (France early 2000’s). Raymonde was the bassist of the band. She did an lp and a 10”. Brigada Flores Magon – Octobre 61before she was the leader of tha band RAYMONDE ET LES BLANCS BECS in the early 90’s. Here’s page with cool pictures from here. http://rude-loulou.skyrock.com/842529397-RAYMONDE-ET-LES-BLANCS-BECS.htmlRaymonde et les Blancs Becs – Footbollocks3-CASEY (France – Discography) Known as the best french rapper, this black women have some of the most bitter, angry yet most intelligent texts. She love the ”HARDCORE” sound in music including rock and punk. She did a rock project with ZONE LIBRE and two lp’s aboslutly stunning lp’s have been release. Here’s one of the videos. Absolutly phenomenal.one of the best songs of the project… so much despair and anger. A song about the exploited making a revolt against the tyranny on his different forms (bosses, politicians). A song who express how the poor/rejected is facing disdain and disgust from ”them” and the treatement he received with the stress and the despair that bring his destiny.
finally, sorry for the annoyance since you surely already know lots of the infos above. It’s just reading of the book and your web site gave me the occasion to ”go back in class” and make my homeworks about the challaneges that black womens have faced and won with courage and guts in this so-called ”scene for the misfits”.
Keep up the great work.
I remember this song from my childhood, yet had no idea a black woman sang it. Awesome!
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!