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started off as a music blog hence the name. but, it is now my any and everything blog.
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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Black Female Rock Singers

I hesitate to call this the top or best anything. This is just a couple of black female rock stars that I think deserve some recognition. While this isn't strictly a race blog, I'll occasionally address the issue of race in the hipster, alternative, rock and even folk scene because not doing so would be tantamount to ignoring the elephant in the room. I've gone to enough concerts and been to a couple of hipster/rock bars and I know what the scene is like racially. I enjoy observing the few minorities (if there are any) in this situation because it makes me examine myself, and my friend and I often play "spot the black person" , I discovered the American equivalent is "spot the negro".

A while ago I watched "Medicine for Melancholy", a black indie film and it left me with a bit of a mind fuck that stuck with me months after I watched it. It got me thinking about how exclusively white the alternative scene is and how the scene and the people in it consciously or& subconsciously ;"other"/separate the minorities. An example of this would be calling black hipsters "blipsters".

Basic stuff like dating and how you wear your hair becomes twice as hard because we live in a world where people need visual cues to know where we fit in and how to relate with us. If you wear a afro, you have to wear it in the messiest/rockest way possible, else you get mistaken for a 'soul sista' and if you are wearing a weave you don't want something from the Beyonce collection, you are thinking more along the lines of Zooey Deschanel.

It worries me that people are so eager to be stereotypical and they want to tick all the boxes of what it means to be part of the 'alternative culture'. And I find myself wondering, what's the 'Alternative' when the alternative itself has become extremely mainstream?! Maybe it goes back the the visual cues and it might be easier to be welcomed into the fold if you look like part of it. Whatever the case maybe, I would love to see the hipsters, blipsters, scenters and all the other "sters" a few years from now, I would love to see if they've drifted to the next trendy style or if they've found their own way. Hopefully they will find their way, but I won't hold my breath.

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Back to the topic at hand -  Black Female Rock Singers. Hopefully, when I start to do this more often there'll be less diversions. This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are many more out there that I didn't mention.

In no particular order:

Meshell Ndegeocello

She is such an awesome bassist.

Tina Turner

^Previously unreleased, he went with the Michelle Branch version for the album. Nothing against Michelle Branch, but I think Tina's voice compliments Carlos Santana's guitar style more.

Grace Jones

Anytime someone talks about Gaga's originality, I point out good old Ms. Jones.

Shingai Shoniwa

The current album is a bit of a let down. So, I'm going with an oldie.

FeFe Dobson

I know many, many people don't rate Fefe as a rock artist, but my teenage self  *hearts* this song. Someone has to be there for the teenagers and prepare them for the likes of Shingai and Grace.

Skin (Skunk Anansie)

I'm not a big fan of Skin/Skunk Anansie, but I can't deny the awesomeness of this song. She conveys the angst and the sexiness so well.

Angelique Kidjo

I really wanted to post her version of Malvina Reynolds' Little boxes because it goes with the rant accompanying this post. But embedding is disabled on the video, so I'm posting the next best thing.