Summer Thangs #3

There have been so many fabulous things happening this month like LGBTQIA Pride and Juneteenth. It’s easy to forget that June is also Black Music Month. This is a great time to upload your playlist with tunes from iconic Black singers or listen to fresh Black talent.

If you are looking for suggestions for summer jams…check out these Black women singers who dropped new music this month.

joimacy

Joi: Props to Janelle MonáeKelela, and SZA. But before these ladies there was Joi. Joi was doing the quirky/alternative/Afrofuturistic music and imagery back in the early 90’s. She was before her time, so she struggled with mainstream acceptance. However, she has been able to cultivate a strong underground fanbase. Recently, an amazing article detailed her brilliant career. Personally, my favorite album from Joi is Star Kitty’s Revenge (“I’m missin’ you/ wishing you were here baby”). She’s back with the album SIR Rebekkah HolyloveA wonderful opportunity to support a trailblazer in Black music.

Macy Gray: It took me a minute to catch on to Macy’s new video. I kept thinking why is Evan Ross in this? Then it clicked. The video is a take on Diana Ross’s movie “Lady Sings the Blues.” Of course, Evan is her son. He is playing Billie Dee Williams’s role. (If you are a Millennial…Google all this 😉 Gray’s song “Sugar Daddy” is pretty catchy. I raised an eyebrow when I read it was co-written with Megan Trainor.  It explains why it sounds bubble gum poppish. But Gray can pull off any song with her textured vocals. And at 50, I know she’s probably trying to catch the attention of new fans. So, a diva has to do what she has to do. I ain’t mad at her and look forward to the album.

Nao: I came across Nao’s music a few years ago. It’s shocking she isn’t more popular.  Like Ms. Gray, she has a unique and tantalizing sound. I love her voice. I was excited when she posted snippets of new music on her website. Then she released “Another Lifetime.” This is my current theme song. I like to randomly pick theme songs for some reason. In any case, this is a nice summer cut.

“I swear I won’t run/In another life, I’ll keep us bounded”

Advertisements

Black Music Month (BMM) #1

June is Black Music Month (BMM).  I am dedicating the blog this week to all things black music.

“African-American Music Appreciation Month is a celebration for African-American Music every year in the month of June in the United States. It was originally started as Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter, who on June 7, 1979, decreed that June would be the month of black music. Since then, presidents have announced to Americans to celebrate Black Music Month. For each year of his term, President Barack Obama has announced the observance under a new title, African-American Music Appreciation Month.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_Music_Appreciation_Month

Since the early 2000’s, I have been side-eying contemporary r&b. I am a 70’s/80’s baby, so I grew up with amazing black female soul singers like Chaka Khan Aretha (she’s been around every decade 😉 Patti Labelle, Anita Baker, Angela Winbush, etc. There has been an agenda to destroy the black female soul singer. We have a few holding on in mainstream r&b (e.g. Fantasia), but overall the black female soul singer has been weeded out.

Sadly, for black women singers today, they are encouraged to assimilate to white standards of beauty and sell sex/their bodies. I have younger women of color feminists friends who talk to me about “respectability politics” when I lament about how oversexualized black female singers are today. I hear them. I think it’s a thin line of these women genuinely being empowered in their sexuality vs. being forced to by record companies/to stay popular.

So, I don’t buy much mainstream r&b music, these days. However, I am loving African female artists. They are bringing the soul, funk, and creativity that is being denied to American black female singers.

I recently found out about the music of Iyeoka Okoawo.

“Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is a Poet and Recording Artist, a 2010 TED Global Fellow, the 2nd place 2009 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, and a spokesperson for the Amenawon Foundation. Daughter of Nigerian-born parents who both hold Doctorate degrees from Boston University, Iyeoka was a practicing pharmacist before launching her career as a poet, singer, activist and educator. In her native Esan language, Iyeoka means “I want to be respected.” By channeling her culture and ancestral influences, she delivers an authentic and inspiring message of healing through accessing the power of the moment.”http://www.iyeoka.com/bio/

Updated to say: Iyeoka is actually Nigerian-American, so there’s still hope for American black female singers. heh.

Check out my favorite cut from Iyeoka…