I recently got to chat with Sheila Jackson, the brains behind the Nice and Rough: Black Women In Rock documentary and website. We talked about my blog and about the history behind blackwomeninrock.info. You can check out the interview on the Nice and Rough website: https://niceandrough.com/2017/08/01/jaleesa-leslie-cataloging-black-women-in-rock/
“What held us back more than anything was making the record, taking what we did onstage and getting people to embrace it on record,” Kennedy said. “The bureaucracy was harder on us than on the people who wanted to invest in the band. We had some good managers, but I don’t think they could see past the interracial element.”
When the integrated lineup of Sly and the Family Stone is mentioned, Kennedy points out that the San Francisco soulsters were primarily an R&B group, while Mother’s Finest reveled in its jagged edges, which was a harder sell to radio. Besides, she said, Sly’s West Coast roots offered “a somewhat different mentality” than the South in the ’70s.
But the band remained steadfast and today, Kennedy, who lives with Murdock in Stone Mountain, is reflective and grateful.
“The music business is a machine and sometimes if you don’t fit the machine, it makes your life hell,” she said. “But your spirit and fortitude, you have to rely on that. That’s why I’m excited about the induction because it says regardless of what happened during the journey, we weren’t overlooked. What we did had a focus, an effect.
“Destiny plays such a huge part in any artist’s career. Sometimes you’re not supposed to open the door. Sometimes you just have to create a path and let other people know it’s possible.”
“We all know that racism and sexism are prevalent throughout the entertainment world, and can be found in any music scene. Further, there’s a significant amount of aggression brought into spaces where black women are making efforts to be seen and heard; this becomes more pronounced if any degree of weirdness or otherness is perceived. Contextually speaking, in situations where black male musicians have been championed for their weirdness (George Clinton, Jimi Hendrix, Bad Brains), black women have been dismissed out of hand as merely being strange (Grace Jones, Betty Davis)—no matter if our respective creative outputs hold the same weight, and no matter that we too bring the totality of who we are to the work that we do.
Today, women are having conversations with audiences that we haven’t been privy to before. Artists are lyrically and visually seeking inroads toward independence, agency, and their need to address current issues. We’re seeing greater numbers of female artists producing their own beats, writing their own songs, leading their own bands, and even pursuing new directions in terms of performing. Most importantly, these women are directly involved in processes that dictate how they and their work are consumed on a mass scale. Increasingly, the artists at the forefront of these changes are black women—and I’m here for it.”
— Joycelyn Michelle Brown, “Weird For a Black Girl”
“SATE has expressed her frustration at being expected to sing soul, R&B, or jazz instead of rock music. Other Black female rockers have also been told they don’t fit the bill because they “aren’t marketable” or because it was “too inappropriate.”
Yet Black women have been a part of the genre since the beginning, and many talented musicians have continued rocking out to this day.”
— Latonya Pennington, “7 reasons why Black women can’t rock”
Felony Melony: I’m here to start a revolution—a whole new rock revolution. I feel like Tina Turner, she did her thing and she’s still doing her thing and I look up to her a lot. I love her. She’s not punk, but she is rock n’ roll and rock n’ roll is forever. She’s been an inspiration to me my whole life, so I want to be the person to come out and break the mold. [Read More]