I love the month of June. It’s not only the start of summer, but it’s a celebration of Blackness. This tends to be mostly due to the honoring of Juneteenth. There are so many events now hosted in cities across the nation, for Juneteenth. A holiday that was mostly ignored up until 10 years ago. There are parades, festivals, BBQs…and a Becky better not call 911 on not a one 😉 June is also a fun month because it’s a time to pay homage to the musical contributions Black folks have made in this country.
I think this year, Black Music Month, is even more exciting with the recent success of Lil Nas X. A rapper who throwed everyone off with his country hit, Old Town Road. When Billboard and people tried to dismiss the song as not country enough, and that Lil Nas X had no place in country music, folks started dropping facts left and right about the fact that country music was created by Black folks. Lil Nas X has a right to be in the space more than any white country singer living or dead (yeah, I said it!)
Besides the triumph of Lil Nas X, June highlights the return of three OG r&b goddesses in the game: Ciara, Kelly Rowland, and Mary J Blige. The singers combined total over 60 years in the music industry(!) All three ladies have dropped new songs within the last month or so. And they show, they still got it going on.
Ciara: At 33, CiCi, is the youngest of the trio. CiCi is also my girl crush. She exudes a natural sexiness. It must be that Scorpio vibe. I’ve liked Ciara since Goodies. She picked up where sadly, Aaliyah, was not able to complete. Ciara brought the eclectic dance movies, fun uptempo songs, and sleek style. Since then, Ciara’s albums have been hit or miss to me, mostly miss. I did think her album Ciara was pretty good. It had the cut “Body Party,” once again showing the sensual side of Ciara. But the album got bogged down in the Future nonsense. Y’all already know that gossip 🙂 Ciara didn’t really promote the album and it was quickly forgotten.
I think CiCi has bounced back with another solid album. Beauty Marks marks Ciara’s point in her career of transitioning into adulthood (married w/two children), self- reflection, and taking it to the next level. Although, ironically, her song “Level Up” is the song I liked least on the album. It worked my nerves, but I got the gist of what she was going for. My favorite tune (and the best on the whole album imo) is “Greatest Love.” I think because, yet again, CiCi knows how to do sexy. That is her strength.
I definitely recommend Beauty Marks to bump in your ride this sizzling summer.
Kelly Rowland: The underrated star of Destiny’s Child (yeah, I said it!), released an EP of three songs. Yep, three songs. But they all jam. The Kelly Rowland Edition features “Don’t You Worry,” “Diamonds,“ and “See Me.” “Don’t You Worry” is the highlight of the EP. If Rowland doesn’t come out with a video for this song. I don’t know what to say. It’s a perfect summer tune. These songs are just a teaser for a full album that will be released later this year. I can’t wait to see what Rowland brings this time around. If these songs are any indication, it’s going to be a hot album!
Mary J Blige: And last, but never least, the Queen of all things…Mary Jane Blige. Yes, I am a MJB groupie (that’s why she has the biggest picture 😉 Mary has had it on lock for over THIRTY YEARS. I’ll never forget Mary’s debut on Video Soul (Gen-Xers know what I’m talking about), with “You Remind Me.” I liked her right away. No, Mary isn’t the greatest technical singer, but she has that thang that makes you want to hear more. She connects to her music and knows her audience. She takes neither for granted, for the most part. Now Mary is back with her umpteenth hit with a little help from Nas (I can take him or leave him). She’s gearing up for her 16th studio album. I know she is going to bring the heat. She’s Mary J Blige. Duh!
“All those sad songs don’t break me/just gave me a record year/Ooh, ooh. Ooh, ooh”
and yes, I know I’m late as hell. But, things get hectic sometimes. I’ve been busy with work and other projects. I also attended two amazing conferences. I shared before about getting a scholarship to go to the AWP Conference & Bookfair. The AWP is a literary event featuring well known and up and coming writers. As someone who deems herself a writer, it was nice being in a space with other nerdy folks. Hey, most writers tend to be quirky people, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The highlights of the conference: “Come Celebrate With Me” : Women of Color Writers and Literary Lineage, and Safe Writing Spaces: Building Community Through Literary Advocacy workshops. The Come Celebrate With Me… women of color authors offered great advice for new writers. In particular, to “be vulnerable, be honest, and take risks.” The Safe Writing Space…session featured Renee Watson. Watson is originally from my city, and has written a best selling young adult novel. She is also the founder of I, Too Arts Collective. The non-profit encourages people from marginalized communities to write/be creative.
Watson and other great writers, talked about the importance of not just creating a safe space, but a “brave space” for writers of color. The need to make sure participants feel seen/heard, providing community norms/agreements, and empowerment. I also attended the wonderful workshop “We Are Our Own Gods: Writing for Black Women’s Liberation.” The speakers consisted of writers from the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. I talk about their book in this video.
The members from the collective uplifted Black women writers. They stated that “vulnerability can be a path to liberation,” don’t be afraid of the early draft,” and “think about who is shaming us?” The last comment speaks to how mainstream society seeks to oppress Black women by making us feel bad about ourselves, while at the same time exploiting/commodifying our bodies/beauty/talents. The members also noted that Black women should be open to writing about a variety of things, exploring beyond the binary/whiteness. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the conversation.