Guitar Gabby & TxLips

In January 2016, TxLips (Translation: two lips) was born. This band recently came on my radar, as “Black Women IN Rock to watch.” TxLips, founder, and guitarist, Gabriella Logan – a.k.a. “Guitar Gabby” – is on a mission to elevate Black female musicians in the world of rock. We are definitely on the same vibrational frequency! So here we go….5 questions and 5LBS. Of ROCK.

Courtney Gurlie, photographer


SHEILA: Atlanta has a strong hip-hop scene. What’s it like being a Black Woman IN Rock in Atlanta? Do you feel more challenged being in a southern city?

GABBY: So when I started this band I anticipated that I might receive a lot of the same kind of pushback that I did when I was in high school. I thought maybe they wouldn’t like it. But ironically most of our fan base is white women. With the Black community, at first we’d get that, “Why are you all playing white people’s music?” But the fact is that we’re Black women and we don’t take “no” for an answer. We know who we are and we’re very confident in our music, and will go forward no matter what.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people from The Rock Community and The Hip Hop Community are starting to cross-over and intertwine themselves. A lot of hip-hop artists who are coming up now kind of want to have a little bit of rock edge.  That’s actually how we got started – playing for a rapper. Now a lot of black rappers invite us to open their shows because we’re Black and we’re women. It gives them that edge that they want to be connected to.

SHEILA: So how did the vision for TxLips begin?

GABBY: I met my drummer, Monique Williams, a.k.a. Mo (pictured below), when the rapper, Diamond (Crime Mob) asked me to do her music video. I asked Mo to participate in the video as well, because they wanted an all girl band for her shoot. I took the opportunity to further that by creating Txlips. Mo is the most consistent and supportive member.

Courtney Gurlie, photographer

I have a vision to fulfill and a desire to push Black Women in rock n roll, playing instruments. I always prefer the same people for consistency and cohesiveness. However, I had to understand that people have their own musical endeavors. So instead of traditional “members,”  I have subcontracted musicians, with the stipulation being they must be Black Women.

Currently, Dara Carter (on keys) and Maria Montgomery (on bass) both came to Txlips because they wanted to engage and participate in empowering Women in rock n’ roll.

SHEILA: I want readers to know about your new EP, Queens of The New Age. It’s available on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and everywhere music is sold under “The Txlips Band”. . .and I love it!

SHEILA: What can audiences expect when they see TxLips perform?

GABBY: A Diverse Rock Experience. That’s one of the things I love about our band. We are very diverse in how we play our instruments. I’m rock-based, because that’s what I grew up listening to. But my bassist, she’s more into funk, that’s how she grew up. My drummer, she grew up playing jazz. But when we bring it all together you can hear the individual creativity coming through. The music has that rock consistency, but you can always hear the diversity.

SHEILA: So who writes the music?

GABBY: I write all of it. The music that I write is coming from experience. But I also try to make it a point that everyone, no matter who you are – whether you are part of the LGBTQIA community, whether you are coming from a white community, or wherever you’re coming from – it’s something that you can relate to and you can understand it.

SHEILA: So there’s obviously something about how you express yourself in this music that appeals to Black women. What do you think that is?

GABBY: I think a lot of the cool factor is that we represent different types of black women – from our individual styles, our attitudes, our hair, to the instruments were playing.

Courtney Gurlie, photographer

Actually we opened up for the Indigo Girls recently, and there were a couple of Black women in the audience. One of them came up to us after the show and said that she was almost in tears, because she was in another room, heard music, and she came out and saw someone that looks like her. She said that she didn’t know that ‘that’ was a thing. Those were her exact words. And that right there…it touched all of our hearts. To represent Black women and be in this capacity, to play in this world of Rock, to be in the forefront trying to lead and carry the torch, is something that is very important to me. We definitely represent the diversity that Black women are because none of us is the same.

For more, visit guitargabby.com and txlips.com

 

Sheila Dianne Jackson is an award-winning author, biographer and CEO of Eve’s Lime Productions. She is Director of  the upcoming documentary, “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”

Malina Moye

I first met Malina Moye four years ago, during a research interview for the documentary, Nice  & Rough: Black Women In Rock. Malina’s energy is infectious, and her determination is reflected in her resume. She is revered as one of the best guitarists in the land – and one of the only women invited to join the “Jimi Hendrix Experience.”  So here we go….5 questions and 5 Lbs. of ROCK!

SHEILA: Describe your brand of rock?

MALINA: I always say Funk-Rock. Rock is the base but the color tones are soul and funk. My goal is to take what influences me artistically from the iconic musical eras, and make it all contemporary. In my live performances, the fans can expect a lot of energy and who knows, maybe even a spiritual experience!

Mark Fusco, photographer

SHEILA: As a left-handed guitar player, you are often compared to Jimi Hendrix. Who are the women in rock who inspired you?

MALINA: Tina Turner, Heart! The Wilson sisters are incredible. I love Janis Joplin. I love the freedom she eludes on stage. I guess I was always interested in the women who were bringing it on stage like a man traditionally would – but as a woman.

SHEILA: What moment was been the highlight of your career – and why?

MALINA: There’s been so many good moments. I think one is playing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute concert for Chuck Berry with Chuck Berry in the audience…and then to rock with him onstage in the finale. It’s surreal when you actually see a person perform. Then suddenly you start running through other artists in your mind and realize, where/who Prince borrowed something from, or The Stones got something from – and it trickles down the line and somewhere, I interpret it into what I’m doing.

I felt so lucky to have my life intersect with his at that moment and to hear what he thought about me and my music. I made a lot friends that night and a few of those icons passed away shortly after. It really puts things in perspective. Treasure every moment.

SHEILA: You are about to release your new album, “Bad As I Wanna Be,” next month (March 23rd) What is the most powerful lyric from that album that makes you feel good, when you sing it?

MALINA: I love songwriting, it’s a part of me. I love telling stories – whether they are my truths or someone else’s. One of my favorite lyrics is from the song Enough. It’s says “when I was young, I thought the world owed me everything. Boy so much has changed. It seems to me, I cannot be what I need to be. The scar’s to deep oh.” I love this lyric. It’s about the scars of being American. I think it’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

SHEILA: Do you have a ritual – something special you do – before your performances?

MALINA: Yes, my dad tells me that I play with each one of my guitar pedals a few times a piece before a stage performance. Then, I generally walk around the venue before the show and say, “Please be good to me tonight.” I don’t know, it feels like I’m asking for permission to play there that night (lol).

You can keep up with Miss Moye at malinamoye.com

 

Sheila Dianne Jackson is an award-winning author, biographer and CEO of Eve’s Lime Productions. She is Director of  the upcoming documentary, “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”

Rosetta Tharpe To Be Inducted Into Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame

Rosetta Tharpe, “The God-Mother of Rock N’ Roll” and “Mother of Black Women In Rock” will be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame this Spring.  Sister Rosetta began singing and playing guitar in the ‘sanctified’ church – which frowned upon secular music, women wearing pants and anything other than heterosexuality. Despite  opposition, she persisted in both music worlds, and inspired the sound of early rock legends like Chuck Berry.

In the tradition of Nice & Rough, Sister Rosetta could only do it one way…. Unapologetic and powerful, like a parent to a child she passed down a legacy of  boldness, authenticity, sexual freedom, and an uncensored voice to new generations of Black Women In Rock! 

Starr Cullars

Starr Cullars is on the road again, with a new band, spreading her own brand of rock. It’s progressive and hard, with a funky, cosmic flow. Starr is from the P-Funk pedigree. She was introduced to George Clinton via Prince and Paisley Park. Starr may look familiar as a former Counselor on VH-I’s Fantasy Rock Camp or featured in posters for the upcoming documentary, Nice and Rough: Black Women IN Rock.

SHEILA: How did playing with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars influence you as a rock musician?

STARR: When I was hired by George Clinton, Archie Ivy (Manager), and Garry Shider in the fall of 1992; there had only been women who were background-singers in the group. After about 9 months of working as the Assistant Road-Manager, I was promoted to a performing member on stage. I was and I am the only true-female-musician-member of the hallowed Parliament-Funkadelic.

The Funkadelic side of the group is one of the original Black Rock bands. The founders of Funkadelic: Eddie Hazel and Billy Bass Nelson were hardcore Rockers. Eddie had jam sessions with Jimi Hendrix! So I would be called out at the show’s last hour/30 minutes, and I would play a section of Funkadelic Rock hits: Red Hot Mama (signature), Alice In My Fantasy, No Head, Free Your Mind, etc. Having to learn all these catalogs of music, learning and having the ability to appease all of the veteran Band Cats – many of whom played on the various hit-records and platinum albums. Having all that power, history and active bad-ass Band members teaching and playing with me, truly enabled me to develop the skill and power I function and create from now.

SHEILA: After playing in the 18-piece P-Funk All Stars, your current band is a trio. What were the considerations when you put together your band?

STARR: Definitely coming from that gigantic rotating orchestra, you immediately learn what it means to share the stage and song with a village. For some in certain genres, a large ensemble like that is great. But I am from the school of the power-Rockers. Those Cats that are 3-4 piece super-bands: Cream, Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys, Rush, my big brothers of Living Colour. I am a Musician’s musician. I must be physically involved in the making of the music, to feel it through my instrument, through my body. I can do that best with a 3-4 piece band. If we added anything, the musician would have to be in vibration with us, and have all the necessary skills.

SHEILA: Speaking of physicality. You exude a lot of physical power onstage. And the way you handle your Bass is incredible. How do you cultivate and maintain your stamina?

STARR: Thank you. I have always known that the Bass guitar requires serious strength – just to lift and handle the instrument. My Kung Fu training has 100% enhanced my entire stage/show performance, From my agility and power-control of my Bass, to the stamina, strength, and balance I have navigating the stage. I study Choy Li Fut Kung Fu and Tai Chi at the White Dragon Martial Arts school. These instructors are some of the best in the world (seriously), like real-life Jedi-Knights. Kung Fu is soooooo challenging and definitely hard to do. It’s mind-blowing when you see and feel yourself grow stronger, deeper, more agile, super-hero-like!

 

SHEILA: A lot of the imagery you use is about the cosmos. Is it simply a reference to your name “Starr” or is there a deeper message you want to convey to your audience?

STARR: I would say, my music is about cosmic-inspirations, fighting through life-battles, and empowerment. In one of my songs, “I’m Still Standing” some of the lyrics are:

Nothing has killed me yet

No matter how mad

Nothing has taken me out

No matter how bad

I always said I was like the

Highlander, an Immortal

Somehow destined to go

Through the light portal…


SHEILA
: At a recent show, the M.C. announced you were ‘the first woman-led rock band to perform’ there. You have been on this journey of rock for a while now. Do you see the path evolving for Black Women In Rock?

STARR: No – not without the serious fight into the Rock Industry. Not until more Black Women have more opportunity and exposure in the Industry. The Rock Legend Cats, from the VH1 show, told me directly to my face that, “There are NO women in Rock today – not since, Heart and Joan Jett” (from the 70s/80s). And because I have proven myself to them, that I was “the Queen of Rock today.” I can tell you, that the path is extremely challenging, and plays right into MY M.O. So I am claiming the throne, infiltrating the male-testosterone Industry, and being the “Queen of Rock” in their faces, whether they are ready or not…Because I AM!

Listen out Starr on SoundCloud

Follow Starr on Facebook.

Sheila Dianne Jackson is an award-winning author, biographer and CEO of Eve’s Lime Productions. She is Director of  the upcoming documentary, “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”

Eva Walker, The Black Tones

5 Lbs. of ROCK

Interview by Sheila Dianne Jackson

 

Eva Walker, lead singer of The Black Tones

A few years ago, I was invited to be a part of a new, oral history archive on Women Who Rock, established by the University of Washington. The archive holds powerful stories of how women have used music as a tool for activism – and I was there to talk about Black Women In Rock. Every time I have an opportunity to travel to Seattle, I am introduced to sisters in the punk-grunge scene. And it was on one of those occasions, a colleague introduced me to Eva Walker, lead singer of The Black Tones. As a filmmaker, I would describe Eva as Awkward Black Girl meets The Jimi Hendryx Experience and the Energizer Bunny. Her love and passion for this music, is as real as it gets.

SHEILA: Tell us about the evolution of your musical taste – and the band that turned you on to rock?

EVA: I love rock ‘n’ roll with everything in me. I love grooves, soul and the inspiration of blues that comes with rock ‘n’ roll.

My first real rock hero was Alanis Morrissett, I would listen to Jagged Little Pill every day for hours and hours. As I got into high school, I was introduced to more classic rock artists like, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, etc. At this time, I didn’t see very many black rock ‘n’ rollers. Sometimes it was discouraging to even think about being a rock ‘n’ roller. I was told things like, You’re so white; Black people don’t play guitar; You’re like the whitest black person I know; or Oreo – all because I liked rock music. Not seeing myself reflected in the rock world, I thought all of this was accurate. I thought I was a “wannabe white” person – which made me upset, and really socially awkward. I didn’t think there was a place for me in that world and I felt bad for liking rock. Then I discovered Jimi Hendrix and immediately I said out loud in a whisper “black people DO play guitar!”

From then on and as I left high school and went to college, and was introduced to old American blues folk artists – like Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and a lot more. I learned the Rolling Stones got their name from a Muddy Water’s song, “Catfish Blues” and that Led Zeppelin gave so much credit to their writing and style to Robert Johnson, and Jack White being a huge fan and heavily inspired by Son House.

It was unbelievable the amount of influence black people have on the rock world. You really wouldn’t have rock n roll without Blues, Gospel and Black People. I realized that I was not “white” for playing rock music, but in fact, me playing rock n’ roll was one of the blackest things there is.

SHEILA: What motivated you and your brother to come together and start a rock band?

Photography by Stacy Honda

EVA: I did a solo performance at a Seattle festival called Folklife. By that time I had been playing guitar and singing for maybe 2 years. It was Cedric’s (my twin brother) first time seeing me sing and play. He told me later, tears came down his face because he had no idea I could do that. He said, “Someone needs to back her up!” So that same summer he asked me to teach him drums. I had been drumming for about 2 years as well. So I was able to teach him some beginner stuff and get him started. We did a lesson as often as possible at the Seattle Drum School. The owner was so great about giving us a space free of charge, when no lessons were going on – since we didn’t have our own drums. We are forever thankful for that. At the end of that year, 2011, The Black Tones were born in my grandma’s basement.

SHEILA: What can audiences expect when they see you perform?

EVA: The Black Tones is all about rock ’n roll. We are a rock ’n’ roll band. That is because of the heavy influence Blues has on my writing. We tell stories, make points, protest etc. We do it through rocking out. Our sound, from what I’ve heard, is classic yet original. We aren’t trying to be anything we’re not. We are a pretty laid back group of folks, I have no problem rocking out to the same three chords for 4 minutes, and it’ll be one of the best songs you’ll hear all summer at a live show. I am sure about that (she laughs).

SHEILA: How does Seattle – as the birthplace of punk-grunge, influence your music?

EVA: My siblings and I are full blown Northwesterners. But being raised by full blown Southerners created this sort of half-breed of soul and rebellion. I associate my grandparents with soul, warmth, and tradition. And that definitely is reflected in our music. We don’t like to use a zillion chords in one song, we like to keep it simple and soulful – quite similar actually to my grandma’s kitchen. The northwest grunge gave me inspirations for songs I wrote like “Eddy and Cherry” which is about Cedric and me. Our sound and everything we are made up of – our childhood environment, from the cloudy northwest weather, the tan van full of tools and no seat belts my grandpa drove us to school in every morning, the quietness of Seattle before millions started moving here, to the wood paneling on the walls of my childhood home. These experiences and scenes are the inspiration behind our sound.

SHEILA: You write all of your own music. What is your fav, most empowering lyric?

Courtesy of Band in Seattle

EVA: Our songs are 100% originals. We rarely do covers. My favorite lyric, is probably from our song “Too Many Times.” The chorus starts with “You’re sitting on top of the world, while I’m lying on the universe.” You hear the term “the sky’s the limit, but how so when there’s astronauts?” There’s just about an infinite amount of things you can imagine, and the universe is freaking huge and possibly infinite. This phrase means there are no limitations to what I want to do with my life. There’s a lot I want to do, no matter the obstacles thrown at me.

and being a person of color, a woman, there are obstacles. However, I think the limit is at the edge of the universe, which is where you’ll find me lying down, waiting for it to expand to see what else I can do.

You can learn more about The Black Tones at theblacktones.com

Sheila Dianne Jackson is an award-winning author, biographer and CEO of Eve’s Lime Productions. She is Director of  the upcoming documentary, “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”

MilitiA

5 Lbs. of ROCK

Interview by Sheila Dianne Jackson

MILITIA on the micWe’re back…for 5 opportunities to delve a little deeper behind the scenes of Black Women IN Rock.  We are excited to feature solo artist and lead singer of Judas Priestess, MilitIA.

SHEILA: How did the name, MilitiA. come about?

MILITIA:  I earned it. A dominatrix gave me this name, many moons ago.  I had just moved to New York City and eventually joined a grindcore/shock rock band, playing bass and screaming death metal vocals.  This dom was the lead singer and she called me “Militia” because I took care of business.  Any issues the band had, I was the go-to.  In an emergency, I’m a damn good person to have around because I don’t freak out, I just handle it.

The spelling of it: “MilitiA.”  is to separate me from every other “militia” in existence.  It’s a popular word so I had to come up with a unique spelling of it to make it my own.  Interestingly enough, a male stripper turned American Gladiator tried to rip the name off me a few years ago.  I had met him in Las Vegas while doing Dee Snider’s Van Helsing’s Curse, next thing I know, he’s on the tele trying to rock my name… That show was cancelled and I think he’s back to exotic dancing and porn.  Thanks for the shout-out, dude.

SHEILA: How would you describe your brand of rock music?

MILITIA:  I’ve always had a problem with self-definitions…  If I had to come up with a hyphenated term to call my brand of rock music, I’d have to say: “Existential-Confessional Power Prog.”  HA!  And what that means is, it’s a swirl of concepts drawn from Existentialist themes, Confessional Poetry, Power Metal and Progressive Rock.  I’m an existentialist down to my core and my music and lyrics definitely reflect it- it’s raw, daring, triumphant and intense.  I always try to write from my most authentic, passionate, personal place; not necessarily saying things that most people would expect.  I strive to come up with new ideas that aren’t like anything else. It doesn’t make me the most popular artist but it keeps me real, goddamit.

mic stance

SHEILA:  Why did you choose rock?

MILITIA:  Rock chose me.  I’ve always been in love with it.  I love the raw power and intensity of rock and metal music.  I’m a junkie for it, for life.  My father is an avid record collector and he schooled me well.  He would send me to my room with a record- like Traffic, Iron Butterfly or King Crimson- and I would lay on the floor alone and listen to it and make movies in my mind that went along with each song.  Or if I really liked a song, I would play it over and over and act out the songs in front of posters on my bedroom wall as if they were watching me.  (What can I say? I’m an only child.)

SHEILA:  How have you been received by fans as a rock artist – both as lead singer of Judas Priestess and as a solo artist?

MILITIA:  Most people love Judas Priestess. And what’s not to love?? We’re the world’s only all girl trib to Priest.  People tend to dig girl bands in general but we definitely kick it up a few notches because of our musicianship and finesse.  Some people have told me that they didn’t even know Judas Priest’s music that well when they came to see us and they went home and bought some Priest albums.  That’s very cool.

I’ve sometimes wondered if my being black has ever been an issue with any of the fans of the music.  I’m sure it has to someone, somewhere… but I don’t give a fuck.  I’m a fan of the music too.  And I’m the lucky one onstage doin’ it.  If someone doesn’t like it, don’t watch me!

Original music these days is tough- between Swear On Your Life (which is on hiatus) and my solo stuff, it’s harder to get people to get what I’m givin because it’s unfamiliar.  Tribute has a built in audience.  However, those that get what I’m doing really dig it.  I have earned some stripes for slugging in out in the clubs doing original material for years, and the fans that I’ve gotten never cease to amaze me.  Some of them do really nice things to show their appreciation and it’s really somethin’- they ask for autographs, give gifts, bake treats, make artwork of me, they email me sweet messages, I’ve been asked to sing at people’s weddings, some do school reports and projects on me, etc- it’s astounding.

I guess some people are surprised to see me, this black female doing hard rock + metal music.  I frequently get asked if I learned to sing in church or if I sang gospel music and then switched to metal.  Ummm… no and NO.  But in all honesty, I’m not concerned.  I’m unapologetic about what I’m doing.  I’m a hard rock metal singer.  That’s who I am and what I do.MILITIA DYS shirt 1 yassir

SHEILA: What are you working on now?

MILITIA:  Currently, Judas Priestess is about to release our first recording!  People have been asking for music so we decided to make it happen.  The first single is due out March 13th.

My solo band MILITIA will make our return to the stage at the “What Are You Doing Here?” book launch party on April 15th at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn.  The book is written by Laina Dawes and it’s all about black women in metal.  I am featured in it along with a slew of some very cool grrrls, you can order it here: http://www.bazillionpoints.com/black-women-in-heavy-metal/   Come to the party, it’s FREE!

I also write, blog, “Rock Goddess Recap”, direct webisodes and host events for Afropunk- the #1 destination for alternative black culture.  I am a spokesmodel for Manic Panic and host an alternative beauty webseries/vlog called “Militious Makeup”, also in cahoots with Manic Panic.

Other than that, I am always writing and creating…

SHEILA:  Who is your favorite Black Woman IN Rock?

MILITIA:  It will always be Tina Turner.  I saw her in concert when I was a kid and she was rockin’ out with all that leather and sweat and hair and skin and mouth and I said… “Yep. I wanna do THAT.”

www.MILITIAISMYNAME.com

Sheila Dianne Jackson is an award-winning author, biographer and CEO of Eve’s Lime Productions. She is Director-Producer of  the upcoming documentary, “Nice & Rough: Black Women IN Rock.”