BLACK ROCKERS UNITED ARTICLES

#BRU's 2nd Black Rock-Her Roundtable:

Rocking Your Way, East Coast Scene and Solidarity

by Nicole Kali (5/07/2021)

ROCK-HER ROUNDTABLE #2

 

April 30th, Black Rockers United had our incredible second Rock-Her Roundtable with these special guests! What did we discuss? Rocking your way, living freely of supremacy and community are big topics in Black Rock-Her Roundtable #2! #BRU highlights are in our article.

HOSTS

Kim Gill (Kimetal) is our Media Director and a rock-her veteran. Kim creates amazing work with Black Rockers United!

"#BRU, which is a new publication that focuses on the Black fans of rock, metal and punk...and we built a newer community online! On Facebook we have a big group, Black Rockers United and our philosophy is to educate everyone and cultivate the community." (#BRUTalk with GuitarGabby)

She has coordinated with Metal Blade, Otep Shamaya, Relapse Records and other famous names in metal. Her #BRUTalks with GuitarGabby, Militia Vox+ are stellar! Kim helped to lay the foundation for our Rock-Her Roundtables!

I'm Nicole Kali, fellow roundtable host, #BRU coordinator and Media Associate! The D.C. area is my home as long as I can remember. The very first inspirations to rock were other Black musicians and pioneers: Tina Turner, my percussionist dad, Mom, Grandma and more. Nate invited me to be admin in 2018.

I coordinated initial #BRUTalks and BlackRockersUnited.com so the team can reach you internationally. We are proud to be a Rock-her OG! Find African diasporic content here and Nicokali.com. So are you ready to meet our 2nd Rock-Her Roundtable guests? Yes!

GUEST PANELISTS

Meredith Bell is originally a rock-her queen of Richmond (RVA). She's currently lead vocalist for Palaceburn, a Philadelphia metal band since 2013! They have rocked stages at AfroPunk NYC alongside Candiria, letlive., RAAA, and Philly's South Street Spring Festival.

Meredith has sung prolifically from childhood and performed excellently in theater as well. She is a vocal advocate for Black lives, our well-being. Palaceburn's music merges the personal with political beautifully. 'And You Wonder Why They Kneel' addresses American racism and Philando Castile.

You may have heard her recently on All Elite Wrestling (Fozzy's 'Judas'). Plus another rock-her's post (MADONNA)! We love to see it!

"So to be able to set that standard and be like yes, I'm a Black woman! Yes, I enjoy rock and metal. Yes, I enjoy playing rock and metal as a musician. Yes, it is possible for you to do this and really getting over that stereotype and being fit in this certain box!" (#BRU Rock-Her Roundtable)

Laina Dawes is a legendary Black rock-her documentarian and ethnomusicologist! She grew up in Toronto among an eclectic family who leaned toward classical music. KISS, grunge, Slipknot and Witch Mountain are all formative influences for her.

Laina's anthology, What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal is necessary reading! Her impactful collection of anecdotes included Skin Anansie, Alexis Brown (Straight Line Stitch), Tamar-kali, Militia Vox.

Laina Dawes created an updated 2020 version too that touches base with many Black rock-hers in their careers today! Their enlightening, witty work has appeared in Bitch Media, Black Rock Coalition, #Blkgrlswurld Punk Fest, Is Black Music, Knotfest Electric Theater, Metal Hammer and SXSW!

GhettoSongBird AKA Samantha Hollins is a Philadelphia born-and-raised rock-her that paves an inspiring trail. Samantha decided to pursue guitar after a filmmaking career.

"I went to school, studied film/video and the business of music. I wanted to be a songwriter as well, and a writer. But I never thought of being a rock artist!" Until she learned more about Sister Rosetta! Samantha Hollins solidified her place since the 2000's! GhettoSongBird is a multimedia griot who directs her own videos, has traveled to Africa on Culture Rock tours and more!

"Soon after my Roxsploitation Band, I started touring and found a space in the world in places I could only dream of. I truly looked forward to traveling to wherever my Her-Story continues to take flight!" (x)

The Culture Rock Griot "rolls out the black-studded carpet and illuminate the smoke-eyed spotlight on African Diaspora Rockers’ past, present and future".

Madame St. Beatrice is a Brooklyn, NYC rock-her: solo songwriter, video producer and concept curator, stunning vocalist. She weaves together a fascinating sound-scape to make great rock.

Madame's band includes previous Dust Angel bandmates Paul Cripple and Tibbie Skye West! They were a "rock duo that indulges in various styles and genres", definitely worth your time to listen.

"In 2017 I decided to take on a different challenge and went on to record and perform as a solo artist with a backing band with new music." (x) Have you checked her single 'Ever Should She Speak'? It's a spine-tingling bop for death-rock fans out there. Madame St. Beatrice is shoegaze glory.

ROCK-HER TOPICS

INTROS

We all broke the ice and introduced ourselves to the world.

Kim Gill: "Hey, everyone! Welcome to the second edition of the Black Rockers United Black Rock-Her Roundtable. My name is Kim Gill, I also go as Kimetal. And I am joined by my co-host Nicole Kali. We're both part of the media team of Black Rockers United and we started last year."

Nicole Kali: "Hi! Good to hear from you, Kim, thank you for that lovely introduction. Every one of us is an amazing rock-her and I'm doing well, myself. I'm going through some personal stuff but I'm delighted to see you all...I'm definitely overjoyed because this is a monumental moment!"

Laina Dawes: "I wanted to take the opportunity to thank Kim. I teach a class on writing about pop music criticism to high-school students, and Kim was a guest lecturer a couple of weeks ago for me. And I was talking to my students and they all loved you, Kim! The representation of having a young Black woman talk about social media..."

@blackrockersunited

#BRU wishes you a wonderful rest of the weekend w/ our roundtable intro! Hope you enjoy this rock-her magic!🤘🏾 #music

♬ original sound - Black Rockers United

Madame St. Beatrice: "What I've been up to? I've been working on new music. I'm like, so excited about this new project. I feel like yes, I've done some previous work that I'm very proud of but this new stuff...there's more growth...it's more soulful. That's pretty much it, just me recording new music."

Samantha Hollins (GhettoSongBird): "So I'm actually a rock 'n roll mom...so most of my time is spent between my little ones and trying to get some writing in. So my week has pretty much been home-schooling four little ones... writing songs and just keeping my head above water [laughs]!"

Kim Gill: "Yes, is it tough being a musician and a mom or do you have a balance for it all?"

Samantha Hollins: "You know, it was tough at first but then I realized they had a interest in music. So when I include them, it's less work to do. If I don't include them, they make it very difficult. I even like taking them to shows whenever I can as well before the pandemic! Keeping 'em busy!"

Meredith Bell (Palaceburn): "I just had a Zoom meeting as you know, we all do with the pandemic [laughs] with the Palaceburn guys earlier on this week. And we're just talking about umm, trying to get things together because people are getting vaccinated and shows are starting up again, and just really coming up with a plan of action in regards to the new music that we're working on!"

PART ONE

#BRU Rock-Her Roundtable discusses the excitement about current projects, being Mid-Atlantic/East Coast musicians and highlights/pitfalls in our careers!

Meredith Bell: "It's really exciting to come up with and hone into what we actually want Palaceburn's sound to be! So very, very excited about this project and coming up with some new shit!"

Kim Gill: "Awesome! And I wanted to give a quick shout-out to Diamond Rowe because she just released her new album today, Tetrarch! Unstable just dropped today and it is fire!Congrats to them. They're doing great things and they're accomplishing a great deal in the industry."

Nicole Kali: "For me, it's...their career is like, ten years plus. We've been charting their rise as a rock-her. It's not just her technical skill, it's that she's been adamant about being a great Black guitarist."

Kim Gill: "She might be in one of the big fours of this generation and we've never seen anything like this before. I'm just proud of her!"

Nicole Kali: "That leads into my next question/the first question: what is it like being a [Black] woman of color in the East Coast, the Mid-Atlantic rock and metal scene? And how have you been able to navigate that? What has been your journey thus far?"

PERSONAL ROCK-HER JOURNEY

Meredith Bell: "I think for me personally, it's really been navigating your own path because there hasn't really been anybody—well, I can't say there hasn't been anybody but specifically in the Philly scene, myself? There really weren't a lot of Black, like rock people as a whole coming from that particular scene...

When you think about Philly, you think about The Roots, you think about Jill Scott, you think about Musiq Soulchild. So a lot of these artists that are coming up are within that R&B, you know, soul sort of thing. And so me, I got to Philly when I just graduated college.

But really just trying to navigate and weave my way through the scene, and see how people were going to react to someone like me and to really figure out what worked and what didn't. That, I have to say, was the biggest challenge but actually ended up being very rewarding because when people start to see something new like that and they can relate to it? They'll let you know."

Nicole Kali: "To see someone like yourself is so validating, it's empowering. Like to see you onstage is like 'I can do it too!'...thank you, and thank you for sharing that that's something that happens to you regularly."

Madame St. Beatrice: "I started this thing thanks to my guitar player, Paul [Cripple] from Reagan Youth. Umm, because of him, I'm doing what I'm doing! I started off doing Dust Angel...we toured all over the U.S. and before you know it, that was over with.

And I was like 'You know what? I want to do my own thing. I wanna do this Madame St. Beatrice thing. I wanna touch all genres, I don't wanna do the whole just punk/metal thing. I got to see America [laughs] and boy, oh boy, was it a trip.

Being a Black woman in a rock band and the reaction that you get from these people. There were shows I would perform and I would be like, the ONLY Black girl there! The only one."

Laina Dawes: "I'm a journalist, moving to New York almost eight years ago was almost a bit of a culture shock...I think that the scene here was pretty good before COVID! What I've been doing right now is basically I'm finishing my dissertation and finishing up my degree. So that involved a lot more interviewing metal bands.

I'm really interested in talking to a lot of young Black men and women who are into underground/extreme metal. Umm, I'm pretty much into extreme music so the scene here has been really good!

It's been interesting because I've been talking to a lot of people in Europe, the U.K. in terms of like, a theoretical framework of heavy metal...the experiences between what's been going on in Europe, what's been going on here.

...I worked with Kim in the past in terms of creating spaces for women of color who are in the alternative arts and trying to get more events going in New York! I'm trying to get more going this summer. But it just depends on what's going on."

@blackrockersunited

##BRU’s second Rock-Her Roundtable was enlightening, real from the heart! This clip features great insight about rockin’ your way! ✊🏾🤘🏾 ##music ##rock

♬ original sound - Black Rockers United

EAST COAST SCENE

Kim Gill: "Is there anything you guys find cool about the rock scene and has it allowed you to create freely whether or not you're a musician or a non-musician?"

Meredith Bell: "How familial it is, at least from again as far as Philly! It's very small as far as just the rock scene as a whole—not even just Black people in it, just like rock...it's just quite small: especially alternative rock, especially, especially metal (Palaceburn). So when it comes to playing shows and that sort of thing, you get to know people.

You get to know bands very quickly, you guys hop on each other's shows, you'll promote each other's shows and people have singles, stuff like that coming out then people will post and tell their friends!

...It feels like a bit of a family, like it just seems like it's very, very supportive. I really can't talk about a lot of like, negative experiences I've had. I mean, outside of Philly, sure but inside Philly, as a whole our scene is very, very close-knit."

Laina Dawes: "This must have been seven or eight years ago, anyway, Philadelphians know how to party! They know how to throw shows. Like, I saw Neurosis one night!...

Meredith Bell: "You goddamn right we do! [Laughs]

Laina Dawes: "And then the next night, it was like this great Decibel, the show that Decibel Magazine did and so yeah! It seems like there is a community of...it's good to have a community of like-minded people. Umm, I feel like since I started graduate school, I feel like I'm a bit out of the social game sometimes. So you know, I'm not socializing really at all right now?

But I do think there's nothing better than having, for me, a support network of journalists or people that I know at publications who will hit me up and say 'Will you write this for me?' Instead of the years and years it took for me, especially when I lived in Toronto, to constantly hustle to get freelance gigs. So it's nice to be at a place in my life personally where I don't have to work so hard!

But yeah, the community is really important. And it's really awesome for me because there's a lot of journalists I know that write for Decibel, or write for The Quietus or Pitchfork or whatever that I can say 'Can you read over something I've just written?'"

Watch the remaining roundtable:

Thank you for tuning into #BRU!