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Discovering her past: Element uncovers her roots through African Ancestry DNA testing Tarik Moody
Some anniversaries are hard to celebrate. How should we greet the arrival of October, a year after the stories broke initiating the reckoning that soon became known as #MeToo? Since The New York Times and The New Yorker published their exposés — on Oct. 5 and Oct. 10 of last year, respectively — of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s long career as an alleged serial rapist, a new nationwide discussion has formed about sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Often, this ongoing reckoning feels like not a dialogue, but a war. It has upended lives — most of all, the lives of the women who’ve come forward with their stories for the first time. It’s brought to light the horrific misogyny that some men hold within their hearts, as they have smeared their hateful words all over the Internet. At the same time, it’s torn friends and families apart as part of the frightening process of dismantling fundamental ideas about what it even means to be a “man” or a “woman,” about what constitutes intimacy and violation and about who deserves protection when the ground of our assumptions is slipping out from under us. The process often feels exhausting, liberating, urgent, impossible — and impossible to ignore.
In what felt like an almost unbearably cruel case of cosmic timing, the spirit of #MeToo surged again as its one-year mark coincided with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings around Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Millions heard the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh described an attempt to sexually assault her when they were in high school, and we witnessed this singular women become a symbol right before our eyes – a hero and a pariah, a flag in a battle waged over mothers’ fears, watered by a man’s tears and obscured by the smoke of each witness’s own beliefs and illusions. It has been deeply disheartening to confront, yet again, the ways in which the same culture that engendered some of our most familiar and treasured ideals — of teen romance, or masculine authority, or feminine openness — serves the power of some at the expense of others. And it has been necessary, but so painful, to hear more and more women’s voices amplified, speaking about what they have endured so that those ideals can be maintained.
Anyone who calls herself a feminist knows, however, that this is just life –- the experience of going on, of even finding ways to be strong and kind and free, when the world is burning around you. (And, in your mind, might even deserve to burn.) It’s something women have been talking about in songs since the dawn of popular music.
This weekend, I needed some edification within what was starting to feel like an unbearable struggle. So I did what I always do: I turned to music. I made a playlist. I called it “fed up,” and started seeking out songs of women saying they’d had enough, that from this moment on things would be different. And if they couldn’t be different, then just listen to this.
I began at one of popular music’s beginnings: the women’s blues of the 1920s, in which, as Angela Y .Davis writes in her great study of the genre, “the problem of male violence is named, and varied patterns of implied or explicit criticism and resistance are woven into the artists’ performance of them.” Ma Rainey’s “Cell Bound Blues” starkly outlines one such encounters, which lands the woman, whose resistance involves a gun, in jail. Country music’s beginnings also highlight women’s resistance: in “Single Girl, Married Girl,” a folk song notably recorded without the presence of the family patriarch A.P. Carter, his bride Sara sings of the limits imposed by the ring on her finger. And then there’s vaudeville great Sophie Tucker, totally owning the lyrics written for her by Billy Rose in “I’m Not Taking Orders for No One.” Moving toward the mid-20th century, I discovered the beautifully cynical “This Will Make You Laugh,” written by Irene Higginbotham — one of Tin Pan Alley’s few African-American songwriters — and revisited Billie Holiday’s stark declaration of independence, “God Bless the Child.”
My search for women’s angry or stone cold self-assertion yielded even greater results as I moved forward in time. Some songs I found were hits, like “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” the firestorm of duet between Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer; others, like X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene’s scream of self-definition, “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” Then there are the forgotten gems, sometimes taking on not just individual men or even the strictures of romance, but the larger culture that continually puts women at risk. Dory Previn’s amazing “Obscene Phone Call” and “Conversation With a Cop,” by the all-woman band Fanny, exposed how the authorities can alternately ignore and harass women. Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” and Rosanne Cash’s “Rosie Strike Back” opened country fans’ eyes to domestic violence. By the time we get to the 21st century, Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff is calling out the American songbook itself, rewriting the soul-damaging script of the murder ballad in “The Body Electric.”
Some of the songs on this playlist use the language of failing romance to express the bigger need for personal agency and freedom. Others confront harassment or other ways women have been treated as less than human. Some are funny; others tap into anger so hot it’s hard to listen to them. Many were written or recorded by young women finding their power in the moment. Others come from weathered voices, sharing wisdom. At four hours, I stopped compiling, but I could have kept going indefinitely, I think. What would you add? We need this soundtrack: a way of saying “no way” that’s really inspiration to keep going on.
Written by: NPR
5 Points Art Gallery + Studios
Lupi & Iris
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
The Back Room at Colectivo
The Cactus Club
The Salt Shed
The Sugar Maple
Turner Hall Ballroom
14jun8:00 pmCupcakKe at Cactus ClubZed Kenzo • bdwthr • DJ DR!PSweat
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona and music although she has also made songs with themes supporting LGBTQ rights, female empowerment, and autism awareness.
(Wednesday) 8:00 pm
15jun7:00 pmMeshell Ndegeocello at Turner Hall Ballroom
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary and deeply jazz-influenced album that marks the start of a new chapter in her trailblazing career. Following her 2018 covers album Ventriloquism, Meshell returns with an album of new original material that taps into a broad spectrum of her musical roots. The Omnichord Real Book was produced by Josh Johnson and features a wide range of guest artists including Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Ross, Jeff Parker, Brandee Younger, Julius Rodriguez, Mark Guiliana, Cory Henry, Joan As Police Woman, Thandiswa, and others.
The Omnichord Real Book is introduced today by the expansive lead single “Virgo,” the mind-altering 8-minute centerpiece of the album which features Meshell on vocals, key bass, and keyboards, Younger on harp, Rodriguez on Farfisa organ, Chris Bruce on guitar, Jebin Bruni on keyboards, drums by Abe Rounds, Deantoni Parks, and Andrya Ambro, and additional vocals by Kenita Miller and Marsha DeBoe. The Omnichord Real Book is available for pre-order now on Blue Note Store exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.
“It’s a little bit of all of me, my travels, my life,” says Meshell. “My first record I made at 22, and it’s over 30 years from then, so I have a lot of stored information to share.” Reflecting on the impact that the forced stillness of the pandemic lockdown had on her, she says “I must admit it was a beautiful time for me. I got to really sit and reacquaint myself with music. Music is a gift.”
“This album is about the way we see old things in new ways,” Meshell explains. “Everything moved so quickly when my parents died. Changed my view of everything and myself in the blink of an eye. As I sifted through the remains of their life together, I found my first Real Book, the one my father gave me. I took their records, the ones I grew up hearing, learning, remembering. My mother gifted me with her ache, I carry the melancholy that defined her experience and, in turn, my experience of this thing called life calls me to disappear into my imagination and to hear the music.”
(Thursday) 7:00 pm
Turner Hall Ballroom
1040 Ve. R. Phillips Ave.
12:00 am - 6:00 am
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