BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

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by Nicole Kali (4/09/2021)

40 Black Rock-Hers Who Are Shaking It Up!

This list is dedicated to 40 rock-hers who are shaking things up worldwide across genres! The first page featured 10 incredible artists: Backxwash, Big Joanie, Starr Cullars and more.

Get ready for round two: GhettoSongBird, Amythyst Kiah, Denitra Isler+!

   

 

Audrey Ebrotié is the French metalcore vocalist for IANWILL. She ruled in melodic metal band Diary of Destruction before that (2008-2015)!


'Elements Collide' video (2019)

Audrey joined her first band at only 15, and expertly incorporates a brutal, operatic style: a huge contender among an ever-evolving scene.

"And I’ve always been a Metalcore and Hardcore lover but with a background in Opera singing before learning to scream, so naturally I listened a lot of Symphonic Metal when I was younger." (Femmetal)

IANWILL is a clever, meaningful acronym for I Am Not What I Look Like. Audrey told us in an interview last year that support has sustained her from the very beginning.

"It's really exciting to share something we created, a piece of ourselves, and it's a bit scaring [sic] at the same time because we don't know if our work will be appreciated...

But for us, it was all good because we always had a lot of support from the beginning."

IANWILL's debut album One Credit Left rocked the world, reminded us that dreams are still attainable despite massive obstacles. Metal tends to translate that way.

"To compose, we often share new ideas and suggestions virtually first, and then we meet to work on it together and hear how it sounds live. We are always in contact.

The guys live in Paris and it's region, and I live at two hours and a half drive from them, so we meet all the time, but we're used to talking a lot virtually." (Nicokali)

COVID-19 delayed Audrey Ebrotie's plans to tour, but never altered her enduring vision or impact. They cannot wait till shows are back! Trust us, IANWILL is worth the patience. Keep up with Audrey!

"It would be a dream coming true if we become a bigger band, tour all over the world with our favorite bands, and live from our music." (2020 interview)

    

"Afro-Groove Queen" Manou N'Guessan Gallo originally lived in central-West Côte d'Ivoire. She is Djiboi (a culturally musically community) from Divo.

Manou performed by 12 under her grandmother's feminist wing and learned the tambour, which is male-only. Strict misogynist attitudes did not deter them from trying.

"My grandmother taught me traditions, respect, and values." (Bio)

So Manou freely traveled to Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo. Zap Mama (Marie Daulne) and she linked paths in the late 1990's when they toured six years together.

A Ma Zone is a timeless tapestry of Afro-diaspora. The Roots, saxophonist Manu Dibango and other pioneers were featured on the 1999 album.

Soon Manou had her own band, Le Djiboi and a masterpiece Dida in 2005. She perfects a mixture of homeland groove and Western funk, soul. Zap Mama became a long-time colleague who is on Manou Gallo's third album, Lowlin as well.

"La scène est comme sa deuxième maison. Il y a une puissance (the stage is like my second home, there is a power there)." (Facebook)

Manou Gallo won MTV Africa's "Best Artist of the Ivory Coast" in 2009. There's a reason she is called the African queen of bass by Bootsy Collins! He produced her 2018 album, Afro Groove.

Manou Gallo is a rock-her, bonafide and here to stay.

    

Philadelphia rock-her/"Electric LadyBird" Samantha Hollins has cultivated a soulful sound and Culture Rock. She is on a mission to "roll out the black-studded carpet and illuminate the smoke-eyed spotlight on African Diaspora Rockers’ past, present and future"!

 

GhettoSongBird started her rock her-story as a 70's child who loved guitar. Samantha Hollins is third in a long line. Mom had a natural knack for the arts.

Grandma's basement was the after-show chill scene for Jimi Hendrix, Mandrill and Parliament. (#BRUTalk)

"My mom was HUGE with following all the bands in the '60's and '70s, going to all the shows. She saw Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Mandrill!

And there was a famous theater up the street from where she lived, called the Uptown Theater in North Philly. So she used to go there, to all the shows...

It was more freedom, the things they were saying, the LOUDNESS, the aggression, the feeling. And even the fact that they had smoke and all the lights and all that mood/vibe!"

Samantha knew this atmospheric space was her second home. Talent shows turned to open mics. Eventually GhettoSongBird took flight to find her chosen crew. Samantha has graced New York's 106 & Park, CBGB's, Philadelphia's World Cafe Live, Hollywood's Whisky-A-Go-Go, been an opening act for Sonia Sanchez.

GhettoSongBird had her own rock 'n roll benefit Wingdom Fest! Special guests George Clinton, Mandrill and Lloyd Smith were special guests (bio) there. Samantha Hollins has produced a horror-rock opera (Alley of the Earth) with her partner-in-rhyme Ronin Ali! Wow.

Their children Clave, Ikembe, Lihlo and Jembe have already grown to love artistic life.

"It feels natural. It was something that they watched us do since day one."

Samantha has been reaching out to Africa's rock scene since the mid-2010's. So we were overjoyed when she joined Botswana's Winter Metal Mania 2019, which Overthrust curated!

GhettoSongBird truly struck a power chord with the Tswana audience.

GhettoSongBird has been researching her connection to Sister Rosetta Tharpe too, one we will always share.

"Rosetta’s presence is embedded in my hometown Philadelphia. Her sound is still echoing here and I believe I caught the tail end of the wave of it as a Rock singer/songwriter/guitarist." (The Culture Rock Griot)

"For some reason, it just doesn't work for me in the USA...I have to travel very far to find community. I found that [community] in Botswana. And there they treated us like royalty!

I've never known that type of treatment during a show and people actually cared about you. Nobody's trying to sabotage you, everyone's enjoying you. And you can cheer for each other." (Rock-Her Roundtable #2) Talk about Afro-diasporic power!

 

 

Houston, TX's own metal force of nature Cammie Gilbert joined Oceans of Slumber in 2014, and has steadily become a household name. The five-member outfit is drummer Dobber Beverly, Cammie Gilbert (vocalist), bassist Semir Ozerkan, guitarists Alexander Lucian and Jessie Santos.

Cammie's own sound is a sonic combination: gospel, metal, rock, soul tones. Alice In Chains, Billie Holiday and Type O Negative are among Cammie's favorites.

Blue (2015) introduced this seamless evolution for the first time: Oceans of Slumber's second album. We are amazed by their innovative songwriting and gorgeous voice. 'Kashmir' has never sounded the same.

Five years zoomed by us, and suddenly a brand-new record arrived. 2020 had some highlights. One was 100% Oceans of Slumber's breathtaking, eponymous album on Century Media Records.

Rock-her swag points for the promotional release with ESP Guitars and Revolver Magazine too.

Cammie Gilbert said "we’re dark southern souls. We’re passionate and emotive, violent and starkly beautiful. We’re trying to conjure those feelings and to have an impact on the lives around us with it.

Music is literally the bond, for me and the world. I think it’s incredibly healing." (Official Site) We could not say it any better. Hear Oceans of Slumber's full discography here!

Fun fact: BRU Founder Nate and Cammie Gilbert have known each other since the 2010's!

   

GuitarGabby, 'Mama Txlip', is a Black rock-her who breaks down barriers internationally and trailblazes a revolutionary road in life. Gabby Logan's upbringing: Atlanta, Georgia. Her family supported the journey.

GuitarGabby's closest role model was Mom, a compassionate community leader and Black superwoman in Gabby's eyes (Rock-Her Roundtable).

"When you don't see a blueprint in your sight, make your own." So she set out to do that without fail.

"Whatever path I go down, I need to understand the industry that I'm gonna be in...so I'm able to protect my stuff and I'm able to not only do that, but inspire other people to learn what they need to learn." (#BRUTalk)

GuitarGabby attended Spelman College and Vermont Law School. She fell in love with guitar, played for Diamond (Crime Mob) then formed an internationally touring femme grunge rock group The Txlips!

"TxLips started off as a backing band (Gurl Code) for Diamond (former Crime Mob member). I was asked to step in as a guitarist for a music video she was looking to shoot, and I saw an opportunity for something bigger.

I saw an avenue that I could fill that wasn’t currently being filled as well as it should have been." (Guitar Girl Magazine)

Queens of the New Age was our initial glimpse at GuitarGabby's catchy, riff-tastic tracks. Have you heard GuitarGabby's hit solo album, Musicology? 'The Dead Pool' and 'The Lost One' reappear with new songs like 'COVID-19 Interlude to 2020', 'Sick of Love' and 'Appled Wine'.

GuitarGabby is contributing Guitar World Magazine writer, Guitar Girl Magazine diversity editor and just landed a PRS endorsement!

"I'm really excited to be joining a family and a business that's really, actively pushing for diversity AND inclusion..."

She also is in Guitar World's commemorative Van Halen edition! Look at GuitarGabby outchea.

"In the end, you land on your feet because you push through the mess and arrive at the light at the end of the tunnel." Her website has just officially launched! And don't miss GuitarGabby's introduction of Angelo Moore (Fishbone) at her alma mater Spelman!

     

Brittany Howard is the blues bard, queen of our rock-her world who honestly brings it on home to Black women from America's Southern Delta. Her incredible career includes SO much.

We can start with four-time Grammy winners Alabama Shakes.

 

They were once The Shakes when guitarist-vocalist Brittany Howard, bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson were alternating covers with written material. Heath Fogg was the missing element to Alabama Shakes.

Boys & Girls was their first beautiful vinyl as a band. Sound & Color rolled down the road a few years apart. No one knew what to make of it, a well-orchestrated and heartwrenching symphony.

 Was it shoegaze, rock, trip-hop? Was Brittany alluding to all other projects at once? Yes!

"Instead of saying this record is really, really different, I would just say it's more evolved...and of course our tastes are always growing. So this record was half looking forward and half looking back..." (Grammy)

Thunderbitch occasionally performed in public but mainly worked outside our curious eye. Bermuda Triangle formed in Nashville, 2017 before Brittany chose a solo career. 2019 is when her intimate solo album, Jaime (late sister) dropped. Brittany keeps the momentum for rock alive.

We tip our hats to Brittany's exclusive NIVA Save Our Stages fundraiser set, #SOSFest! Brittany Howard champions the importance of art whenever possible. We have to have each other's backs.

 'Stay High' won the Best Rock Song for 2021's Grammys not long after that! Deserved. Every time she plays? We listen. Brittany Howard was the perfect person to induct Sister Rosetta Tharpe to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

     

Atlanta rock-her Denitra Isler and Conkrete God (Denitra, Auslander, Kewl, Lindsey, Prof. Steamboi) have been out here! Denitra is an accomplished actress in crime dramas (Hulu's The Act, Nurse Hundley, Fox's The Resident), powerhouse for Conkrete God since 2017. They are our top five adored acts right now.

"It is out of silence that Conkrete God brings love to drive away the silence and darkness...In the face of computer-programmed, disposable music, rock music still has a lot to say."

They cite influences that vary from 24-7 Spyz to Bad Brains, Mother's Finest, Stone Temple Pilots. We also detect funk (SICK 'Maggot Brain' cover), glam rock and heavy metal. Denitra handles it all.

'Drive' captured our attention first. "I got Aretha playin' loudly, I got my lipstick and my stilettos on!" she sang over an infectious rock rhythm. It felt like a golden-era classic.

'Black Phoenix' is their tribute to fallen Black lives, our promise to rock above racism's ashes.

And new Conkrete God is finally here in 2021. Treat yo'self to their video 'Gold'! We see you shining. Denitra defines rock. We recommend their entire EP with no skipping. Love CG!

     

Valerie June (Hockett) is an uprising incarnate, artivist all her making. She has lived music with no signs of true hiatus. Humboldt, Tennessee is her home. Gospel and R&B surrounded Valerie as a girl.

Memphis called her in 2000; she was performing as duo Bella Sun. Countless blues musicians traversed this multicultural city on the Blues Trail. , gospel, jazz, ragtime, all came with Black pre-rockers there like "guitar king" Memphis Minnie. Generations have come and gone in 100 years.

Now Valerie June knows sound inside and out. The folk, rock, soul, blues genres are lovingly honored and almost deconstructed by her.

Valerie recorded her premiere EP, Valerie June & The Tennessee Express on the same year (2009) that $5 Dollars (a Memphis music scene docu-series) won a regional Emmy!

She shared an unshakable desire for freer days while performing 'No Draws Blues'. We still remember Valerie June's debut like today.

Valerie June seems to reemerge in four-year waves: Pushin' Against A Stone (2013), the country fusion album The Order of Time (2017), The Moon And Stars. No complaints from us. Valerie poured her soul into the 2020 fourteen-song saga, The Moon And Stars.

"It’s kind of my way of sharing a little positivity after such a chaotic year," she revealed on her blog. You can find Valerie June on all streaming platforms (and our Roots Session Rock Her-Story Playlist). Her first book will be out soon!

      

Amythyst Kiah is folk-country, Southern gothic greatness from Chattanooga, Tennessee. 1990's rock-hers Tori Amos, Alanis Morrissette and Tracy Chapman were ruling the radio.

Why couldn't she have her moment someday? Amythyst adopted guitar for her own at 13 but didn't perform till junior year in college where she joined Old Time Pride Band.

Amythyst Kiah earned a degree in Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies and passionately continued music.

There would be misconceptions and obstacles because a narrative needed to be unearthed, others put to rest. Amythyst has already shared stages with The Indigo Girls, Yola and more in her fruitful career. So folk music must have faced a reckoning.

"Since I am a person who has, more often than not, listened to and played music that was considered ‘white,’ at times, my authenticity as a black person was questioned." (NC Music Magazine)

Not everyone doubted Amythyst Kiah's power to rock. Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) invited her to Cambridge Folk Festival as guest curator.

"Old-time and blues are like that (fingers crossed), there's not that much difference when you think about that in historical context. My picks are really coming from an artist of color in folk music.

Amythyst Kiah, I think what she's doing is really beautiful...she's got this deep soul, I heard her sing 'Trouble So Hard', it was like there was somebody, herself but this other voice coming out." (x)

These intersections all made sense with banjo/bluegrass quartet, Our Native Daughters: fellow Black rock-hers Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell. They pull from 17-, 18th-, 19th-century diasporic life, enslaved Africans' stories and onward.

Grammy-nominated Songs of Our Native Daughters was released in 2019, and Amythyst Kiah's heroic 'Black Myself' is the first reclamation—almost like a new amendment.

"Everybody is here to serve the purpose of telling the stories of these unsung heroes of our past, you know, within slavery, within segregation...but to just put this record out, 'Here it is, this is it! We've got to work through this together'." (Smithsonian Folkways)

"I'm drawn to songs that kind of talk about that struggle and the will to try and overcome that adversity. When a person writes a song, it's never in a vacuum." (Smithsonian Folkways)

  

Meet indie punk/rock band Lesibu Grand and the enchanting rock-her Tyler-Simone Molton.

 

Lesibu Grand rocks out of Atlanta and they formed in 2017 when vocalist Tyler-Simone met bassist John Renaud. A Pains of Being Pure at Heart show brought them into a creative consensus. Lesibu is the lead rock-her's middle name, plus homage to her South African grandfather (bio).

Tyler-Simone casts her alternative magic in 'Hush Hush' (their debut single "drawing on the musical stylings of The Motels, Blondie, and Berlin"), 'Hot Glue Gun', 'WFS' and 'Not Sweet Enough'.

'We Fucking Suck' scorched the catastrophic MAGA effect, and has been called the "new American national anthem" by Afropunk: Bikini Kill, Green Day and L7 influences throughout it.

"We started writing ‘WFS’ about gun control, but the other issues just popped up, and so we eventually decided to address a bunch of them in one song," Tyler-Simone shared to Culture Collide.

'Hot Glue Gun' kept our lives from becoming undone! The original version featured her fight against fascism as the Pink Power Ranger. We had never seen such a cool crossover.

'Not Sweet Enough' denounces "the attack on women's rights" and pulls no punches.

Play their '80's-arcade-era FPS on Instagram to 'Hot Glue Gun' which Aura Studios described as an "80's vaporwave game filter." Goals!

"After we shot the video for ‘Hot Glue Gun,’ which is set almost entirely within a videogame, we thought it would be really cool to develop an actual mobile game to capture the same vibe and spirit." (Paste Magazine)

Enjoy the radical soundscape. Lesibu Grand rocks! "They're here to leave this world better than they found it"! (x)

Here's their latest jam "Friends with My Friends"! You go, BRU crew. We love you.