Black Women Rock
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
On March 15, jessica Care moore’s 10th Annual Black Women Rock will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The sold-out show will be one of Detroit’s most talked about concerts of the year. Featuring several internationally celebrated stars, the event spotlights the dynamic talents of Black women, with their fierce, sensual and courageous stage presence in front of a live band.
jessica Care moore will be joined by Joi, Steffanie Christi’an, Kimberly Nichole, Wunmi, Imani Uzuri, Tamar-kali and DJ Stacey Hotwaxx Hale, for an official after party at Bert’s Warehouse in Eastern Market.
On March 16 at 1:30 p.m., the women will return to the museum for a free panel discussion where the community can hear their stories and ask questions about their experiences.
There will be a second performance by the artists Sunday evening at 5e Gallery/D Blair Stage of the Cass Corridor Commons that will feature another dynamic lineup of Black Women Rock with Mama Sol, Gwenation, Ideeyah, Chanda Long, LaShaun “Phoenix” Moore, Atoms & Ease, D.S. Sense, Cleo, Cherisse Bradley, Miz Korona and more. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door beginning 7 p.m.
The following is reprinted from Common Breath Media, reviewing the 6th Annual Black Women Rock, a Tribute to Betty Davis, in March 2010.
Betty Davis was a rock star. As a legendary funk singer and muse to jazz great Miles Davis, she was a strong Black woman who took the music to her own level, expressing her feminine essence while challenging standards that kept many women performers within certain bounds. Betty Davis broke artistic shackles and made her voice an inspiration for generations to come.
jessica Care moore, Detroit’s celebrated poet, presented Black Women Rock, a Tribute to Betty Davis March 27, 2010 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The show was presented to provide a different narrative of Black women’s role in society, to move beyond stereotypes and help heal the wounds made by damaging judgments.
moore is a the hip hop generation poet and a Detroit music scholar. Her performance on Saturday represented the funk, going hard at the microphone wearing a small black one-piece and a long white train that began at her waist and flowed across the stage. Her verses were long and strong and she graced the audience with her world-renowned lyrical ability and hometown pride.
“I came up in the hip hop scene in Detroit, and I used to wear baggy jeans and cover up my body with Maurice Malone clothes, and guys didn’t know I had a nice body, but I had one. It was just hiding under t-shirts,” said moore. “And at some point, I said, ‘You know what? I’m tired of this, I got to cover it up so they’ll listen to me. You know what? I’m going to put on my short skirt and my high boots, and you pay attention still. You find a way deep down inside and focus.’ I should be able to celebrate my sexuality and who I am, that’s why we did the thing for Betty Davis.”
Steffanie Christi’an tore up the auditorium with her band, ripping across the stage with a ferocity seldom seen in stiletto heels and fishnets. Her blues band held down the jam while she controlled the audience with a voice that screamed from her soul, stomping across the stage with attitude and an unabashed pride in her sexuality.
Imani Uzuri’s performance was highly anticipated, given that this was her first performance in Detroit, despite having considerable notoriety with local listeners. The highlight of her performance came during a song that was performed as a tonal meditation, a dedication to indigenous people whose stories are told in forgotten languages, and more broadly a dedication to people displaced from their homelands.
Tamar-kali finished the tribute with her commanding stage presence backed by a hardcore rock band. A celebrated rocker from Brooklyn, she showed these Detroit women the spirit of hard rock is within them and can be made without living up to the expectations of the genre.
The following afternoon, a panel discussion was organized for the women to relax after the power of the previous evening, and it became a place where the women joined together to discuss their art and inspirations.
“I know these women on this show, and they are women of purpose and integrity,” said moore. “It’s not just about who can sing the best, it’s about what they do when they’re not singing. All of them are scholars, and so it’s important that we deconstruct our work and that our work is put in proper context.”
Uzuri continued to receive great love from the audience after her performance, and responded to the question of how being a woman impacts the creation of her music.
“When I was younger, growing up Black in America, and even though most of us are multi-cultural just by virtue of the middle passage and the slave trade, I identified as Black,” said Uzuri. “And that’s what I identified as for most of my life until I got to college, I didn’t think about the woman part.”
“How gender impacts my work is that I am woman, I believe in womanness,” she continued. “I believe in the power of woman, and this heals everyone. This empowers everyone.”
To read jessica Care moore’s work, visit www.mooreblackpress.com, where her book “God Is Not An American” is for sale. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located at 315 East Warren, Detroit, 48201. For more information call 313.494.5800.
Cass Corridor Commons is located at 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, 48201. For more information about Black Women Rock, call 313.556.1702.