All Articles Tagged "black female singers"
R&B/Dance music icon Jody Watley is so peeved about the images of Black women in the media that she felt compelled to pen an open letter on the topic. In the letter, which appeared on her website, Watley expressed her frustrations with various issues, from the portrayal of Black women in media to misconceptions and misinformation about her former group, Shalamar.
“It’s no secret that Black women are generally the most marginalized, disrespected, diminished, and dissected across social media and in society. It makes no difference if you’re the First Lady of the United States, an Olympic gymnast, the greatest women in tennis, pop stars, actresses like Leslie Jones attacked for taking a role some thought she shouldn’t be in, executives, journalists – who came to defend mega -star, my colleague and more than baby sister of King Of Pop Janet Jackson, after the Superbowl..or you could be working mothers or students who take heat for wearing cornrows or natural styles, welfare recipients, “baby mamas”, too loud, too spirited, too quiet, too reserved – and so on when so many of us are working our asses off to make things happen and hold things together,” wrote Watley.
“We get demeaned constantly – it’s our hair, our weight, our looks, never good enough for some – doesn’t matter the socioeconomic background or level of intelligence either. Often some of the negativity and hate sadly comes directly from other black women and men. In the midst of being an artist it was my duty to raise another intelligent, strong daughter knowing the challenges not just of being a human being, a woman – add to the mix a girl and woman of color.”
Watley first rose to fame as one of the original members of the R&B group Shalamar in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Before breaking up, they enjoyed several hits including “Dead Giveaway,” “The Second Time Around,” “For The Lover In You,” and “A Night To Remember.” Then as a solo artist Watley, a singer/songwriter/producer, continued her hit making streak with “Real Love,” “Looking For A New Love,” “Don’t You Want Me,” and “Friends.”
With a career like that, it’s no wonder Watley isn’t happy about how Black artists have come to be pigeonholed musically now.
“It was as if universal acceptance by way of music was somehow perverse and wrong, a betrayal of sort to a Black or ‘urban’ (a generic term at best) fanbase. There are those that don’t like me for what they think I represent..not being a true soul R&B artist in their eyes, not Black enough in their eyes, not gospel enough in their eyes..not ratchet enough in their eyes..not a woe is me hasn’t suffered enough from what you see or know in their eyes artist…So, when people set about to destroy you for what you’ve worked hard for all of your life and career, to tear that down, for being determined, tenacious, smart, strong, talented, determined, independent, classy on constantly on my music and business grind, it’s like – wow really? Even at your job, whatever you do there’s bound to be someone in the shadows – mad. Could even be family and those you may have considered a friend. It’s life,” wrote Watley before rehashing the breakdown of Shalamar and fans’ incessant request that they reunite.
While you can read that trilogy in its entirety here, tell us what you think about Watley’s comments on Black women and Black artists.
If you were to watch last night’s Emmys on mute, it would be hard to tell which Black actress was actually named Best Lead or one of two Best Supporting Actresses because whether the name called was Uzo Aduba, Regina King, or Viola Davis, there were five more Black women in the crowd cheering as though the name heard was their own. For many, that display of sisterhood was just as important as the wins themselves, particularly in an industry where we know roles for us are limited. And while that reality can easily give way to nasty competitiveness — much like what we see among women in the music business — there wasn’t a shred of ill will displayed among the stars at last night’s award show.
— Sevyn (@sevyn) September 21, 2015
I didn’t think about the stark contrast between Black actresses and Black singers until I came across Sevyn Streeter’s tweet this morning where she blatantly called out the crabs in a barrel mentality so rampant in her industry. No, I’m not rehashing the age-old sisterhood of Hip-Hop type of debate in which fans expect women in a genre based on bravado and ego to release rap duets to the beat of kumbaya. I’m talking about Black pop princesses and R&B singers who sing about love but have no love for one another. As soon as I read Sevyn’s tweet I tried to recall the last time I saw two singers share a stage when it wasn’t a BET honors type of performance or a publicity stunt to squash beef where there should have been none. The most recent pairing that came to mind was Monica and Brandy. No, not the “Boy is Mine” (things aren’t that bad), but their 2012 reunion duet “It All Belongs To Me.” I also thought about the Beyonce- Alicia Keys “Put it in a Love Song” track that was never actually put in a music video to be consumed by the masses and wondered, why is the music industry so different from film?
Surely, Black singers are more accepted than Black actresses I said in a conversation with a co-worker who retorted competition for dollars is much more steep in the recording biz. Thanks to Internet leaks, greedy record labels dealing out shady contracts, and the prominence of free music platforms, singers almost literally have to fight to make money off of their voice and if it’s between you getting a check and another woman who looks like you, you’re pretty much going to do whatever it is you have to do to survive. In a sense, the success of a musician is much more in their hands than possibly any other entertainment field, particularly if they use tools like social media to shape their image and create mass interest for their product. Conversely, Black actresses are, in a way, all fighting the same discriminatory demon. While a limited number of roles has potential to breed competition, and surely does among some, so much of Black stars’ ability to thrive is predicated on factors outside of their acting ability that being looked over for roles likely doesn’t feel as personal as someone playing another R&B singer’s song over yours. And there’s no arguing that the success of one woman on television truly does open the door for others — hello Mary Jane, Annalise Keating, Cookie Lyon, and Olivia Pope. The same simply cannot be said in R&B anymore. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. No longer is there room for Aaliyah, Ashanti, Beyonce, Ciara, and Rihanna, there has to be a queen — the designation of which depends on which fans are the most outspoken on any given day — and then performance scraps are left for the minions. As a fan it’s even taboo to not be competitive. If you’re in the Beyhive you cannot be in the Navy too. There can only be one musical ruler. The question is which came first, fans deciding there could only be one reigning music queen and singers buying into that or the entertainers forcing the masses to choose?
In 2015, “Feeling Myself” is likely as close as we’re going to get to seeing two Black women at the top of their music game actually collaborate on something successfully and, if we’re being honest, that’s only because Nicki and Beyonce are in two different lanes (though for some reason Nicki still refuses to stop singing on 90% of her tracks). As we saw from the recent MTV Music Awards, even rap artists can’t be happy for pop stars, and we all know the only reason Yonce cheers when Taylor Swift wins anything is because she’s still trying to make up for Kanye’s 2009 VMA blunder.
No one’s saying we need every talented woman in the industry to come together and release a “We Are the World” type of single, but it would be nice if Black female singers could acknowledge the talent of their professional peers sans diva-esque posturing. Perhaps part of the reason R&B music is practically dead by all accounts is because the few R&B singers who had it going on stifled the growth of others before leaving the genre behind to build pop princess palaces. But that’s another story altogether.
Powerhouse voices, big hair, smooth dance moves, glamorous dresses, beautiful songwriting, torch songs, female empowerment, fierceness, diva attitude and breaking down barriers in the music industry are what black women in the music industry represent.
Now many black female legends have touched the hearts of others and moved generations with their music and artistry — from the gospel of Mahalia Jackson; the lady blues of Billie Holiday; the soulful sounds that get you caught up in a rapture with Anita Baker; the bridging the gap of R&B, and Rock and Roll of Etta James; the soulful leadership of Gladys Knight; the powerful vocals of Patti Labelle; and the eclectic, political sounds of Nina Simone.
Many of today’s black female artists owe a debt of gratitude to their foremothers. Some of those foremothers made it on this lists and some of today’s artists made it on this list because of how these black women managed to overcome so many obstacles and reach the top.
In celebration of Black Music Month, MadameNoire compiled a list of 15 black women in music who managed to become some of the most popular solo acts in music ever! This list is based on record sells (albums and singles), longevity, legacy and overall popularity in both mainstream and urban-marketed music.
The YBF has put Alicia keys on pregnancy watch yet again after pics popped up showing the mother of 13-month-old Egypt with what appears to be the beginning of another baby bump at the 2011 Black Ball. Hubby Swizz Beatz holding his hand over her stomach in the classic proud papa-to-be pose doesn’t help rumors either. Looks pretty official to me. What do you think about Swizz and Alicia potentially welcoming baby number two so soon? That’s love… black love!
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Diana Ross came from very humble beginnings, and grew into one of the most celebrated superstars in the world. We all have our own special brand of star quality that we flaunt in different ways. Just like Diana, we can take those wonderful elements that make us uniquely us and parlay them into the fulfillment of our goals. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that we can make things happen for ourselves, but we always have the power to do so. We don’t have to wait for a helpful mentor, supportive friend, or doting spouse to come into our lives and help us achieve our dreams. While such influence is always good, we must believe that we have the power to achieve our dreams independently if we are to bring our highest thoughts into reality. We can do like Diana did and make it happen on our own. We have all the inner power we need. The time is now to start working.
Do you own independent thing today, Madame Noire lovelies!
News is just now spreading of a horrible event — “Miss Keri Baby” was attacked on stage by a lunging fan who was able to grab her before she could be protected by security. Our black celebrity news partner Necole Bitchie reports:
A few weeks ago, Miss Keri Baby got more than she bargained for while performing in Paris on her ‘No Boys Allowed’ tour. An overzealous fan rushed the stage during her last song of the night and snatched her right on up. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but security immediately rushed the stage and knocked the fans lights out. Keri received a blow to the head by security in the process.
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“With the ‘Pieces of Me’ album, I wanted to show the dimensional side of Ledisi… I can be sweet, Hot, a lover, and sometimes, a fighter. I also wanted to write and sing music that expresses the sides of women, and hopefully teach men how to love those complex women.” -Ledisi
Complexity is often used to describe women, and applies to black women in particular. We have so many sides to ourselves — spiritual, sensual, emotional, tough, decisive, soft — and it is important to make room for all parts of who we are. It can be tough sometimes. People may not get every aspect of your nature. You might even find that certain friends and relatives are better for playing out certain qualities. And that’s fine. As long as you are exploring and expressing all your most positive dynamics, you are on the positive road that Ledisi describes. And the more you love your many sparkling facets, the more the people in your life will appreciate your complexity.
Reflect on and enjoy all the different parts of who you are today! Enjoy yourselves Madames!
Loving and respecting yourself is critical to making it in this life. You can’t always control things like your employment or how certain people in your family are treating you, but you can always control how you treat yourself. This can be as simple as making time to do the things that make your heart sing, or making sure that the inner voice that you speak to yourself with is sweet and kind. Loving yourself does not have to be a big, complicated mystery learned by reading a ream of self-help books. Just think of the way you would treat the favorite little girl in your life, and be just as tender to your own inner being. Take a tip from T-Boz, and love and respect yourself first and foremost.
Have a wonderful day full of healthy self-love!
Have you ever felt left behind? Used and abused? Judged? Or simply unappreciated? We all have. This is nothing new, but you can take a better tactic for overcoming such treatment than you may have in the past. Rather than stewing over being overlooked or otherwise treated poorly, adopt Vanessa Williams’ attitude of: I’ll show ’em! For every lover who decided to move on. As a statement to that boss who didn’t recognize your shine. Move on to the next one and grab that spotlight. Mixing winning and revenge is a positive way to turn bitterness into the fuel you need to grow. If it worked for Vanessa Williams, who turned scandal into a sterling career, it can definitely work for you.
Here’s to making life’s dross into gold! You can do it Madame Noire lovlies!
Kelly Rowland has been on fire since she was a child to make her dreams come true. Since Destiny’s Child called it quits a few years ago, she has applied that same independent determination to her solo career. Racking up hits like “Motivation” and the new dance classic “When Love Takes Over,” Rowland has shown the benefits that come to those who stick with their goals no matter what the obstacles. Kelly has overcome a slow start to her solo endeavors, yet returned to the scene again and again with new ideas and fierce projects. The next time you hit a bump in your plans, think of Ms. Rowland and the focus she used to stay lit up and on course to achieve her desires. You can do it, too.
Be on fire for your dreams, Madames! And have a spectacular day!