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: 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: 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!

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

X-Ray Spex | Poly Styrene



X-Ray Spex at the Rock Against Racism festival. Victoria Park, London. April 30th 1978. Photos by David Corio.

Now thats a fucking look.

8tracks #BlackWomenInRock playlist


Check out this playlist on @8tracks: Black Women In Rock playlist ( by jaleesa-l.

New songs added! This playlist is sourced from my own personal collection, so I can basically only add songs I’ve bought lol. Check it out!

Poly Styrene


Poly Styrene photographed by Paul Roundhill. Prints available at Thunders shop or contact

POCs in Goth/Punk/Alternative Music Masterpost by diningwithdana


POCs in Goth/Punk/Alternative Music Masterpost

Updates! *01/15* I had originally intended on keeping it short, but due to reader enthusiasm, here is a master version. Each contribution was appreciated, you freaks rock.

As an addition to the goth/post-punk/alt band masterpost, here’s a list of bands featuring members of color. Most are influential, others new discoveries or future freak gods. Thanks to research and helpful readers, here’s a bit of sick sound suitable for all taste buds:

Goth, dark or industrial:

Punk or hardcore:

  • Bad Brains – why most of the bands on this list even exist.
  • Death – not to be confused with the metal band of the same way. Not that you could confuse the members in any way.
  • Rough Francis – founded by the sons of David Hackney of Death.
  • Pure Hell – afropunk taken literally.
  • X-Ray Spex – Poly Styrene was the energy and feel of the band. Actually, she was just energy and feel period. Fun fact: she was also bipolar.
  • Radkey – Rad.
  • TMGE – Japanese band named “Thee Michelle Gun Elephant” or as they prefer: JAPANESE BAND NAMED “THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT”.
  • Tamar Kali – powerful musician, especially known for “Boot”.
  • The Objex – Feloney Melony’s got a wicked hawk and voice.
  • Stiffed – Santi White now performs solo as Santigold.
  • Cerebral Ballzy
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Midori – great jazz-punk fusion band.
  • The Redscare
  • Le Butcherettes – Mexican garage punk band.
  • Atari Teenage Riot
  • NOFX
  • Stalin
  • The Bags
  • Dev Hynes – a British musician who started out in a punk band Test Icicles then went solo as a folk/indie musician as Lightspeed Champion and now is doing an electronic/R&B thing as Blood Orange.
  • L’Arc-en-Ciel – Okay, so these guys are Japan’s other most famous export. These guys got known outside of japan for doing some major anime theme songs (Fullmetal Alchemist, Gundam 00, NANA live action movie, etc) and were the first Japanese act to headline Madison Square Garden (Japanese rock bands really like New York for some reason). Their bassist tetsuya (formally known as tetsu) gets bonus points for being one of Japan’s only out LGBT celebrities (he’s Bi).
  • Doll$Box
  • Letlive
  • The Chariot
  • Trashtalk
  • Gogol Bordello – self described as “gypsy punk”. Singer Eugene Hütz is Russian-Ukranian with Romani heritage and born with a ‘stache. Nearly crazier than Little Big and Korpiklaani combined.
  • Blackfire
  • The Bots – punk duo made of two brothers.
  • Bow Wow Wow – IIIIIII Waaaant Caaandy!!!
  • Love Equals Death
  • Ritualization – blackened death metal from Orléans, France
  • Teengenerate

Metal, funk/rap/reggae metal fusion or core:

  • Blasphemy – Black metal, the biggest irony on earth as Caller of the Storms remains one of the rare black musicians within the genre.
  • Babymetal – this Japanese trio is more metal than a viking woman on her period in the middle of a battlefield drinking the blood of her enemies to the sound of Immortal…for some at least.
  • Wicked Wisdom – Will Smith’s wife get a band?? Yes she Will.
  • Unlocking the Truth – these 13 year olds played in the streets of NYC before they opened for Living Colour.
  • Absolace – amazing metal from Dubai.
  • Living Colour – better than Dead Monochrome.
  • King’s X – more hard rock, but hey.
  • Bionic Jive – one of the better hip-hop/metal fusions.
  • Skindred – check out the album “Roots Rock Riot”.
  • Ego Fall – a Chinese folk metal band and also Corbac’s fave. Mixing tradition with heavier sounds.
  • Static X – Japanese guitarist Koichi Fukuda & Mexican-American bassist Tony Campos.
  • Sepultura – the founding members are all Brazilian, currently their lead singer (Derrick Green) is black. “Arise” is a massive album of pure metal awesomeness.
  • Straight Line Stitch
  • Blood Stain Child
  • Sasamaso
  • Tenger Cavalry –  a folk metal band based out of Bejing who describe their style as “Mongolian folk metal”. Like this and you’d probably enjoy Ego Fall.
  • Cthonic – Taiwanese metal band who’s lead singer is also the president for the Taiwanese branch of Amnesty International.Most of their music deals with their goal of an independent Taiwan and they’re really REALLY great.
  • Myrath
  • God Forbid
  • Invasion – a stoner/psych-metal band fronted by a valkyrie space wizard out of London.
  • Vodun – like invasion, marries punk, psychedelic, and doom metal influenced instrumentals with soul influenced vocals to create a unique and original takes on doom metal.
  • Sevendust
  • Animals as Leaders – most suggested band on this list and for good reason.
  • Veil of Maya
  • Oceano
  • Body Count – Ice T’s metal band rules. It would be a little tastier with ice cubes though.
  • Hirax – pioneering thrash/speed metal band (with hardcore influences). Katon De Pena is one of the most distinctive vocalists of the then-burgeoning California metal scene. Though they never achieved the success of some of their contemporaries like Metallica or Slayer, they have long been an insiders’ favorite and cited as an influence by bands ranging from Napalm Death to Cannibal Corpse to Darkthrone.
  • Infectious Grooves
  • Melechesh – an Assyrian black metal band originating from Jerusalem whose lyrical themes include Mesopotamian mythology and occultism.
  • Iron Man – American doom metal band with PoC members.
  • Sex Machineguns – Japanese speed metal band.
  • Hibria – Brazilian power metal band.
  • Metallica
  • Gevolt – Yiddish band from Israel.
  • The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza
  • Gridlink
  • X Japan – Probably Japan’s most famous metal export. These guys are the reason Visual Kei (basically Japan’s gothic metal scene) exists. All those flashy JRock bands wouldn’t exist without X Japan. They also recently just played a huge show at Madison Square Garden.
  • Maximum the Hormone – Also known as “the guys that did that weird opening and ending to death note”, MTH do a fantastic combination of metal, punk, and even pop. The best part about MTH is that their lyrics don’t make sense even when translated so you can just have mindless fun listening to them even if you understand Japanese.
  • Suffocation –  one of the most influential death metal acts of all time. Terrance Hobbs’ incredible mastery of the guitar allowed the band to blend complex technicality into the genre without sacrificing raw brutality.
  • Versailles Philharmonic Quintet
  • Suicide Silence
  • The Crimson Armada
  • For Today
  • Glass Cloud
  • Heaven in Her Arms
  • Here comes the Kraken
  • Issues
  • Periphery
  • Reflections
  • System of a Down
  • Fear Nuttin Band
  • Year of the Dragon – founder was a member of Fishbone.
  • Dir En Grey
  • Skyharbor
  • Spineshank
  • Coal Chamber
  • Ill Niño
  • Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in Dilapidation (FID) – Formed in Tokyo. Rad ladies playing some super hard grindcore.
  • Sarcofago Brazilian band
  • Acrassicauda Iraqi heavy metal. There is a film called “Heavy Metal in Baghdad”, about the band. Another documentary called Global Metal, which is by the same director as Heavy Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, is highly recommended.
  • Sigh – one of the first japanese black mack metal bands led by a fierce lady.
  • Sabbat – Japanese black/thrash.
  • Blood Stain Child – rather epic sounding Japanese metal band with contrasting vocals and instrumentals.
  • Gallhammer – female Japanese extreme metal band of doom. The wickedest chicks, definitely recommend.
  • Avulsed – Spanish death metal band.
  • Necramynth – Korean black metal.
  • Crossfaith – japanese metalcore.
  • Subrosa
  • As they Burn – deathcore band from Paris, France.
  • Wolves and Jackals – blackened thrash/death metal from Atlanta, GA.
  • Infernal Revulsion – brutal death metal from Tokyo, Japan
  • Orange Sky – from Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Monuments – it’s got saxophone and it’s awesome.
  • Ego Likeness
  • Peelander-Z – watch the videos, you’ll be happy you did.

Alternative or too cool to label:

Thank you thechampagnenigga for images/links and looselimbs for one more suggestion!

Submissions are now closed.

Black Girl Friday.




Black girls always been at forefront of rock n’ roll and punk. to all the black girls out here I hope this inspires you. NOTE This is alot of bands but its not every band. got any Suggestions send them to us at our email or on facebook Peace,


MR. B. S.


Anus Kings




Sister Tyler


TV Tramps


Vaginal Creme Davis


Dust Angel


Half Breed


Omega Sirius Moon


Stiffed (Santigold)




The Dummy Club


Aye Nako


The Mighty Paradocs




The Breathing Light


Queen Crescent




Honeychild Coleman


Shredding the Velvet






Tribe 8


Fire Party


The Atomic Tanlines


Freda Rente and The Chemical X




Bleed The Pigs


Tamar Kali


X-Ray Spex


Red C


The Butchies


Planet Rawk


Sole Heiress


My Therapist Says Hot Damn


Cat Bear Tree


Skinny Girl Diet


The Tuts


Kimya Dawson


Trash Kit


Mutley Chix


The Objex

If you are black an play in a band feel free to hit us up here or on our page let us know.

Eventually I will be back to tag this post. Hot damn!

My band is on this list and i have never been so honored

Tumblr did some weird things for me when I originally tagged this post up, which also affected my resource page – a lot of bands that should be on the resource page were left out. I can’t seem to add the missing tags to the original post, so this post reflects the bands that got left out of the original tagging. I am super OCD about tagging because of how important I feel the resource page is to this blog, and I don’t ever want to a band to be left off of it.

Also @thelearnedfangirl, which band were you in?

Female Fronted Band Confessions – Alexis Brown



I get really frustrated at the lack of black women in metal, hardcore, rock (and other such genres). Do we not have a place in music unless its for us to shake our asses and flash our tits. On a side note I dont think Straight Line Stitch has been mentioned at all (I could be wrong). An amazing band fronted by a kick ass black chick whose singing and screaming can outdo any man!

(Straight Line Stitch has been mentioned a couple of times and Alexis separately too, check out the tag if you’re interested 🙂 )

It’s really more of a lack of representation than a lack of women. No one is really going to push a black woman out into mainstream media that doesn’t serve conventional narratives about who and what black women are because it doesn’t serve the status quo. No matter how talented the women involved actually are, you’re not going to hear about them. You have black women playing every instrument in bands like these, black women fronting these bands, but because of the lack of representation no one knows about these women and everyone thinks that we’re just not out here, or that there’s just one or two who do this sort of thing. It’s the way I used to think.

Hence the reason my blog came to be. I had an obsessive need to collect every woman related to rock music that I could find in one place just to prove that there’s isn’t just one or two of us out here, and so far (with a lot of help!) I’ve been incredibly successful. It’s up to us to represent ourselves.

Reminding myself to tag this post specifically with all of the women I’ve found related to metal and hardcore/punk, which is a fraction of the black women I’ve found that do general rock music as a whole.

Poly Styrene



No offence to Patti Smith, but the REAL queen of punk in my opinion is Poly Styrene from X Ray Spex.

Poly Styrene


Poly Styrene was a British musician, singer-songwriter, and frontwoman of the punk rock band X-Ray Spex.

Styrene was born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said in 1957 in Bromley, Kent, England. She was raised in Brixton, London by her mother. Styrene left home at 15 with only £3. She hitchhiked between musical festivals and stayed at hippie crash pads for two years until she stood on a rusty nail while bathing in a stream resulting in septicaemia. She moved back to London at the age of 18 and set up her own boutique in Beaufort Market, on the Kings Road, in Chelsea. Being brought up by a single mother had imbued in her a ‘puritanical work ethic’ and she was determined to succeed. Styrene’s called her fashion label X-ray Spex and sold home spun, punk autographed couture.

In 1975 Styrene recorded her first demo album using her real name,
Mari Elliott. The album was punk rock and Styrene showed her lyrical talent, her words resonated directly with the period’s youth but her first single “Silly Billy”, a reggae/ska track released a year later, was unsuccessful. In July that year Styrene saw the Sex Pistols perform an early gig at the Pier Pavilion in Hastings. Their set was all cover songs and Styrene was inspired by the fact that anyone could do the same. She put an ad in a British music magazine, searching for “young punx who want to stick it together” and formed X-Ray Spex using the name Poly Styrene. She chose the name while looking through the ‘Yellow Pages’.

X-Ray Spex quickly gained a following and performed one of first gigs at the Roxy club in London. Styrene was surprised at the sight of “girls in dog collars and leads, being pulled along by their boyfriends” but she was just an unconventional herself, albeit in a different way. Styrene was described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”; because she wore dental braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe, and was of mixed race. She was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female”.

In 1977 X-Ray Spex released their debut single ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours!’ which would become their most well known song. It begins with the shouted line “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard” which sets the tone for their loud, brash musical style. X-ray Spex appeared at key events in the punk era including he Front Row festival at the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, north London, and the huge Rock Against Racism concert at Victoria Park in Hackney, east London. In 1978 they released their debut album, Germ Free Adolescents which is now thought of as a punk classic. The album was a violent criticism of consumerist, braindead society.

In 1979 Styrene left the band, exhausted by their touring schedule. She had also been wrong diagnosed with schizophrenia, sectioned, and told she would never work again. She would later be diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. A year later, Styrene recorded a solo album called Translucence. The album showcased a different side of her musically, with a mellower more jazz orientated sound. In 1991 X-Ray Spex reformed to play a sold-out gig at Brixton Academy in London. Four years later they released a second studio album, Conscious Consumer. In 2008 they reformed once more to play the Roundhouse in London.

Styrene continued to work as a solo artist, releasing Flower Aeroplane in 2004 and the well received Generation Indigo which was far more commercial than any of her previous work. Styrene has inspired many other female performers including Kathleen Hanna who said that Styrene had lit the way for me as a female singer who wanted to sing about ideas.” Styrene died at the age of 53 in 2011.

Sources here, here, and here.

Poly Styrene/Pauline Black



Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Pauline Black of The Selecter, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Viv Albertine of The Slits, Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie And The Banshees and Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. London, August 1st 1980.

Photo by Chris Stein.


Poly Styrene

Yeah I know it’s September. But enjoy this fun Valentine’s Day card from fuckyeahpolystyrene.

wicked-pissahh – Really Awesome Female Fronted Bands Part That I Heavily Fucks With Part 3


Really Awesome Female Fronted Bands Part  That I Heavily Fucks With Part 3

Bleed The Pigs


Lydia Lunch

Amy Miret (Nausea)

Poly Styrene (X Ray Spex)

Beki Bondage (Vice Squad,Ligotage)

Tairrie B Murphy (My Ruin, Tura Satana)


Alice Bag (The Bags. Tons of greatness.)