Black Women Rock
By C. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — “We are Black women and we play rock ‘n’ roll. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time,” says jessica Care moore, founder of Black Women Rock (BWR).
BWR will perform Feb. 8 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Black Women Rock is a living tribute to Betty Davis — one rocking Black woman.
Davis, at one point married to legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, influenced his music and went on to create a sound and imagery all her own. An icon to pioneering Black rock figures ever since, Davis is still largely unknown. BWR is a reminder.
Moore says BWR is a tribute to the “amazing lights, so many Amazon women” who are not in the mainstream.
Brooklyn-based punk artist Tamar-kali, a BWR vocalist and guitar player, says the “ground breaking and self-defining music” of Davis parallels the lives of many of the BWR artists.
“I hope to continue the legacy of Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Betty Davis,” Kali told the Michigan Citizen. “So we can (understand) that iconography or imagery is in line with true artistry.”
BWR reminds us that though the path for Black women, artists and otherwise, can be daunting, it’s not crippling.
“Despite what some say, I believe Black women always have to fight a little bit harder. Have to love a little bit deeper. Have to stand a little bit stronger. We know how to make the best out of any bad situation. There is a collective experience that deep down we understand,” says Steffanie Christi’an of BWR, who attended the African-centered Aisha Shule/W.E.B. Dubois Prepatory Academy and Wayne State University.
BWR is a collaboration of visual and performing artists. Visual artist Sabrina Nelson as well as DJ Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale will participate in this iteration of BWR.
Kali says BWR creates new images and Black women are not just seen as singers or pop princesses, but creators and innovators.
“A lot of time there is a formula,” she adds. “This is when you see a variation, the absence of artistry in music culture. It is a profit and loss situation.”
“Black Women Rock represents everything I stand for as a woman and as an artist. It has been such a pleasure to see what Black Women Rock has grown into. We are a movement and it only gets bigger and stronger everyday,” says Christian.
Moore says Detroit is a “great base” for the event because Detroit-based artists “know the grind.” And Christi’an points out Detroit’s long musical legacy: Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, MC5, the Winans, Norma Jean Bell, Big Proof, Madonna, Aaliyah, Alice Cooper, The White Stripes, Kid Rock, Eminem and J. Dilla.
BWR will appear at the DIA Feb. 8 at 7 and 8:30 p.m. They will also perform with Martha Redbone March 16 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
For more information, visit www.blackwomenrock.com