on the 10th anniversary of black women rock

first thing we saw in the theater of the charles wright museum was nina simone on a screen speaking about that blackness, grounding us in the assumption of our beauty, power, greatness. the sold-out 10th anniversary of black women rock was officially beginning with a powerhouse concert, the first event of a two day exchange of love and brilliance amongst black women, curated by jessica care moore.

my sweetheart and i got cute and went.


the artists were brilliant, starting with a series of short intimate performances saturday night.

jessica, the force behind this event, shifted between emceeing and performing her own rock jazz poetic offerings throughout the night, with about seven original outfits in the rotation. i honor her for the work of creating such a space, a container for legacy building.

the people she invited were a mix of the brand new and the delightfully familiar.

kimberly nichole was up first, very young and feisty in her tutu, ‘rock ballerina’ her signature style. her voice is compelling. i got her cds, and i am excited to see how she grows.

on either side of the stage artists were painting. i ended up buying a piece created during the evening, detroit artist/teacher/fashionista sabrina nelson’s take on betty davis’s nasty gal cover.

tamar-kali creates a solid wall of afro punk rock black classical music sound – really unparalleled because she is creating something new, rough and somehow tender and gorgeous. i own all of her music and merch, but was excited to see her perform after recently contributing to her campaign to take her work on her first solo tour. i need this tour, and so do you, so donate to support it.

imani uzuri makes me feel like i am in the fifth element. she unleashes a futuristic operatic experience, pouring forth from a bright light of black global womanhood. her album gypsy diaries was one of my favorites from last year.

steffanie christi’an performed music from her new cd, which i also had to get. i love her tina-turner-demanding-full
-audience-attention kind of stage presence, and her full body commitment to rock.

joi was next and there really is very little i can say to do justice to the effect she has on me as a woman with southern roots, as a pleasure activist, as an artist. i have listened to her for years but had never seen her on a stage. she is a legend and a perfection. leather latex tank and pencil skirt, locks down to her thighs, fishnets which you can see end mid thigh up a back slit. everything fitting like a breath on a bone. red heels roughly ten inches high. i was fanning myself before she opened her mouth…and then she opened her mouth and sang these growling emotive notes. the things she does and sings all feel true, and important for us to hear, sing, scream along with her.


wunmi closed out the night, a british nigerian dancer and singer. she brought the rest of the world to the stage. her music was a comfort, a home sound in a way that is ancestral, not logical. the way she moves is breathtaking and she opened a situation on that stage where ferocious spirit was pulling everyone up and through their bodies.

on sunday they followed up the show with a panel, and i had to share with you a taste of the wisdom these artists dropped (culled from twitter and memory)

jessica care moore:

i taught my son, king.

who does mommy work for? mommy.

what is mommy’s job? poet.

how does mommy pay the bills and make sure we have this house? poetry.

and who are you going to work for? king.


The spirit gives you what you’re going to do & you let it form you, wherever you are. A rose will blossom in dogshit, but I know I’m still a rose.

Back in Africa you don’t think about anything, you just live it. I didn’t learn I was black until I traveled to the US. It is deep to have to think about your color every day.

With children you nurture them by letting them seeing you for who you are. I never ask the children I teach to do what I can’t do.

I made myself belong to me.


I can only be true to myself. When I go against that, it brings me nothing but pain.

It’s really important not to prescribe for others, that’s the white supremacist model. I don’t want to flip that, to be in reaction, to just do the same behavior to others. Not everyone wants to approach life like I do. I am embracing the differences.

I’m thinking (about how we turn) accolades into action. Technology has us less connected. We think that to ‘like’ something is to take an action.

Don’t say you love me & then never purchase my music. Art is an exchange, it’s our energy, we pour our whole selves into it. And we’ve all worked through pain, grief, death through the work of others.

Also, make something. (she was wearing wool socks and a cowl that she’d crocheted – which are available as perks if you invest in her tour!) We don’t create anymore!

To change who I am based on other’s expectations is to lie. I refuse to lie on stage. I’m embracing my whole humanity.

I am working now on embracing my humanity, and getting other people of color to see ourselves as an integral part of human history. I don’t want to ask, to be an afterthought, a token, or tolerated – I am understanding that I, that all of us, are an essential part of the history of humankind.

imani uzuri:

I’d been socialized to diminish what it meant to be an artist, so I became an activist, and said ‘I’m a revolutionary!’ Then I remembered who I was, and I could not deny that my work was as an artist. And I was going to make my living as an artist.

The revelation (of being an artist) is not linear. It’s ongoing, it’s a series of choices…as I unveil myself to myself.

Media & entertainment is used as distraction. Propaganda is real. We have to keep decolonizing ourselves.

Imani also had a beautiful moment of speaking about being a bisexual artist and how important it is to hold that space as a black woman. She was moved to tears, and moved many of us right along with her, as she spoke of the tension of being both privileged and marginalized in the same life.


you can’t see the way forward if you don’t know what to honor from the past. I’m a preservationist, musically.

I don’t strategize necessarily, but I can inspire others to awaken in themselves. I can see that something.

If we are fortunate enough we all become masters of something. I’m embracing my mastery, bringing mastery of others together.

revolution comes from baring your complete self, can’t nobody fade that.


live blogging 50 for 5E

what is up beloved readers!

so i am at the 50 for 5E event [our last night in this venue] – a fundraiser for our Detroit community-owned hip-hop venue. the funds will go to the restoration/construction of the new venue.

the event will run from 5pm tonight till 5am tomorrow morning and i am gonna be liveblogging it for as long as i can hang! i just drank a big old iced coffee drink which should keep me poppin for at least the first 5 hours 🙂

i got dressed up for the event:

one of the freshest aspects of the event is the ticket package – tonight you can buy a $50 package [designed by Wes, 1/3 of the Emergence team] which includes 10 entries into the future 5E Gallery location [just down Michigan Ave from the venue we’re in tonight] and 5 drink tickets.

the first act i saw was karanji featuring the soul water band. the singer in the band has one of the loveliest voices i have ever heard come out of a man. there are 50 artists performing tonight – i hope this dude sings with all of them.

i have my computer so that i can get several hours of work done for ruckus and us social forum. i bring the movement to the club.

to balance that, i have not 1 but 2 flasks here tonight because people always get generous with my stash and it’s 12 hours after all. #don’tjudge.


mz jonz is hosting right now. that enough is reason to stay all night – she is the funniest person i know who isn’t a paid comedian.

detroit has so much talent – aztec is rockin the stage right now. they took all the tables and chairs out to accommodate how packed it’s gonna get in here tonight. right now there’s a half-moon of folks trynna bop their heads as hard as his flow.

the most exciting thing to me so far is that Fowl is in the building. i worked with Fowl through Detroit Summer when he was a baby. Now he towers over me, and easily holds the title of “Person who is gonna be unbelievably famous real soon”.

self says has the whole room chanting ” i love myself – i like myself – i love myself – i like myself.” yes i do. you can chant from afar 🙂

Big A is on the microphone. this dude is so angry and political on the mic and then get him on the side and he is the sweetest person ever. he’s heading to lebanon for while – i really appreciate the content of his lyrics, he talks about the hardships of life and how love comes through it all.

fowl just rocked the mic – 3 songs but it coulda been 20 – he is such a star already 🙂

oh my goodness. a little baby just got up and rocked her abcs over the beat. that is what’s up.


ok we been in it for a minute now. i am still going strong. if you check my twitter feed we’re posting occasional photos of folks who got the ticket package. you can donate online at 5egallery.org.

ok, finale just arrived. he took a pause from patiently waiting for his baby to arrive to come through and perform tonight. my girl dream just arrived looking lovely.

its beautiful to see all the familiar faces here tonight – this really has become a family event – folks roll through with their babies, folks come to support each other. there are folks in here who had their first performance ever in this spot. its a beautiful thing.


ok we got 5 hours left…i can’t lie i am a little sleepy already. but i love 5E, and i love the folks who are here who haven’t performed yet. finale, invincible, miz korona, monica blaire, mz jonz…quest mccody? mu? big tone? yeah the night has barely begun. so i am hangin tough.

it helps that Jessica Care Moore has been hostin and performing. She is wearing the smallest purple thing that’s allowed outdoors – every time she walks outside it’s 5th avenue. this is the sound: “i’d fuck you but then i’d have to kill you – with interest, for your interest.” ok?

and the money is rolling in. you can give, no matter where you are! just go to 5e Gallery to donate from afar.

community venues are so important – 5E has hosted an all women’s hip-hop night which has revitalized the city. piper carter and sicari ware have put in hours of time, along with dozens of other members of the community, to create a truly beautiful space for folks to come together and create.


wow an artist named dumani just got up and did a gorgeous rendition of lift every voice on electric guitar. that song is one of the most perfect things of all time, in my opinion. here’s the lyrics:

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

in my research i just discovered [remembered?] that this song has many verses. some are very religious. this is on the list of stuff i have to learn for my repertoire of black music. being in this space tonight makes me remember that we have always come together and supported each other, created together, and made each other’s dreams possible. that’s all that is happening tonight – piper and sicari and invincible and others have organized a space to uplift the community and now the community is giving back.



finale is on the stage. in my humble opinion, he is an unparalleled artist when it comes to speed and complexity, and he’s kind of the quiet storm. off-stage he’s quiet, humble, sweet. then he gets on and it’s just the most raw in your face flow you ever heard. he’s my favorite rapper in detroit after invincible. matter of fact – i’ll be right back.


i have returned. 3 hours left. i went to check out finale and invincible performin together. these are two artists who are amazing on their own, but my first experiences always involved them performing together and i love the impeccable respectful energy present when they share a stage. it always feels a little dangerous, like they could push each other over some edge of quality into a new form of music. every time i see finale i feel an upswell of love that is reserved for my chosen brothers, which includes finale and sam, my sister’s husband, who i literally, instinctually call brother when i see him.

i wonder how clearly i am communicating at this point.

i wonder who the deep detroit readers are who are reading this 2:19 part of the blog 🙂

miz korona is now on the stage. she is slept on in a way that makes me wanna shake people. she was in 8 mile. in real life she is an incredibly raw, incredibly charismatic rhyme artist with a bullet proof delivery. “i’m from the zoo where the lions, tigers, and wolverines live…it’s a zoo i go ape/spit banana clips/ill monkey bars…”


just went running like a screaming michael jackson fan to faint on the floor while monica blaire delivered, as she always does, the performance of the night. part of me wants her to be famous, and a smaller more selfish part wants to keep her here in detroit as the pearl in our oyster. i can’t even quite explain what happens when she sings. she dances. and she throws her head back in ecstacy. and then she opens her mouth and this thrilling, sensual, spiritual wall of sound comes out. she plays with you and then she delivers. on my very first trip to detroit, on my ride to the airport, my ride jenny lee passed me her cd. and i kind of fell out. i was a superfan before i ever got to see her live.

and then i saw her live.

i think she could save the world if her full power was unleashed on the masses. because she makes everyone feel better about themselves, and about being alive. she has two songs right now that are restorative: “i’m not scared any more of bein something great.” and then – “you’re a rocket/you’re on fire/you’re gonna take us/so much higher”. blast off.

really longing for skittles and m&ms at this point in the evening.


ok now i am freaked out excited because diana nucera and i just made a date to make music with sterling on monday.

i honestly have no idea who is on stage – music is playing. i am asleep but still got my eyes open interacting with folks and writing this.


it’s 4:18am. this is one of my favorite times to be asleep. being awake right now seems a little like an insult to my soul. or my body. i never used to do this without help.

i just met mike “agent x” clark – one of the best house djs ever. i didnt get to hear him but he’s on podomatic.com so go check him out.

wow – i had to correct my spelling like 18 times in that sentence alone. i am focusing and bringing myself into present. the desire to sleep is just because i am normalized to think i should be sleeping now. but i remember a time when i would always be up at this time on a saturday. and i would see the sunrise. wait for it.

ok y’all. the event is done, we are breaking it down. i could say a lot of things right now and the majority of them would be unacceptable for public consumption. i don’t know tho, this might be private writing at this point. i am literally writing just to move my fingers and thus be doing something and thus not sleep. drums still goin, music still goin, so we can bop while we clean. but that was quite the event and i am so excited to climb in my bed and stay there indefinitely.

thanks for reading!

from a renaissance

coming to you live from the heart of a renaissance, renaissance meaning a rebirth, detroit being a city that has been born again over and over. when i first started coming around the D, i knew that a movement was afoot in hip-hop. i saw invincible, finale, guilty, black milk, buff 1, miz korona, mz jonz, slum village, and so many others coming together in a way that was unprecedented and unapologetic. what i heard over and over was: this is the home of j dilla and big proof and we won’t deny anymore the unique and raw creations that come out of this place.

i first heard monica blaire on a cd, which blew me away AND didn’t even come close to the joie de vivre she injects in an audience in a live performance. she is the best live performer of her generation anywhere in the world based on my experiences, and she is right here, close enough to touch, humble enough to hug and big up all those around her. [here’s a trio of short videos from my phone shot last night when she jammed impromptu with the marvelous and adorable and allaroundgreat chilean hip-hop star anita tijoux: one, two, three.]

so for a while i know it has been happening, absolutely, but then i moved here, and my immersion in what is happening every night and day all around this city…it is so exciting to be here at this moment in detroit, where the energy of new things emerging out of an old soul city is present and palpable.

just four days ago detroit brought us jessica care moore‘s black women rock, a concert in tribute of the delicious and edge-slicing betty davis, brief wife of miles davis, sex-flinging artiste who still elicits a frenzy today when her words and images and fashions reach us.

the artists who slipped through, including brooklyn rock divas imani uzuri and tamar-kali and internationally renowned artist marcia jones, were thrilled to be in motor city, and kept talking about the creative energy alive here. steffanie christian was my discovery of the weekend…she got up and rocked 5 songs that moved me outside myself in 5 different ways.

the next day jessica hosted a brunch for the women who performed, and there was an impromptu song session where folks shared what they had to offer, what was in their souls at that moment. what i felt in that room was the miracle-worthy experience that can happen when creative people realizing their potential share space. it was historic, and healing, and so easy to take in.

attendees included the incomparable piper carter, who has envisioned and uplifted The Foundation as a weekly Tuesday night fertile space for the growth of women artists in the D, featuring DJ’s Mel Wonder, Sticky Niki, & La Jedi with B-Girls Mama (Hardcore Detroit), Ri$ Money, & Teena Marie & Graffiti Artist Riku. the night often lends itself to the kind of inspired spontaneous moments only possible when great talent smashes into a liberated open welcoming zone and can expand to its full size. miz korona and mz jonz, who i call comedianne-rappers, regularly play here.

and of course i have to say that my partner invincible is a key player in every aspect of this moment, and in my own life. only a few weeks ago, invincible took two showcases to SXSW – a Detroit showcase, and a Women in Hip Hop showcase. she has seen the groundbreaking transformative potential of this city for as long as i have known her.

there is a hip-hop renaissance here, but there is simultaneously and intersectionally a thrilling movement of female artistry and creativity happening in Detroit which aligns with the shift to the feminine that is happening in every arena, internationally, philosophically, politically, in families, in structures. everyone is welcome to visit, and co-create, and bring it all to visit, and showcase it, and let it seed and scatter and grow within you.