Continuing our Black History Month coverage, I’d like to use this space to direct you to some of the most impactful resources I’ve found online. These are some of my favorites and well-deserving of your attention!
She Shreds’ 130 Historic Black Women Guitarists and Bassists You Need To Know
While doing some research for our BHM event guide, I came across this amazing article from She Shreds that lists and shares details about over 100 Black women guitarists and bassists. As someone who didn’t regularly see women play guitars on stage until I was 18, this piece was an incredible read, and one I wish I had come across much sooner. Representation is incredibly important when it comes to encouraging kids to dream big about what they can accomplish. By familiarizing ourselves with accomplished Black women musicians, we can help vanquish the false narrative that making music is and always has been a white man’s game.
She Shreds has created a fantastic resource to make it easy for us to educate ourselves about many of the important Black woman guitarists from the past century. They’ve included both well-known artists such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, as well as many other artists that most of us don’t know, but definitely should. Along with each artist, they’ve included a photo or video, and a detailed description of what you need to know about them. The She Shreds team has done an incredible job of bringing together all these stories. I highly recommend you read through them all when you have the time.
Keep in mind, that the artists mentioned in this article are ones who fit the specific category of Black women who play(ed) bass or guitar and were active before 2000. It doesn’t include those who played other instruments, vocalists, or anyone who started their career after 2000. If more recent artists were included, this list would be much, much (much!) longer.
Here’s the link again to She Shreds’ 130 Historic Black Women Guitarists and Bassists You Need To Know.
National Museum of African American Music Opening
The National Museum of African American Music opened to the public on January 30, 2021. “For non-African Americans,” says NMAAM President and CEO Henry Beecher Hicks, “I hope that they would realize that African Americans are at the center of American culture in a way that they maybe never considered.” The museum, located in Nashville, has been in the works for over 20 years. For those who aren’t able to check out the museum in person yet, the information about the exhibits is a great jumping-off point to research whichever genres or eras of music interest you most. CNN’s article about the museum has a lot of good info as well.
Emo Nite’s Racism in the Punk/Alternative Scene Panels
In June, Emo Nite hosted two panels with prominent Black figures in the punk/alternative scene about racism in the scene. The first panel featured Jason Aalon Butler (Fever 333), Hanif Abdurraqib (Writer), Sky Acord (Issues), Aaron Brown (Emo Nite), and Jordan Calhoun (Heart Like War). The second panel featured Melian Junius (Creator/Designer), Eternity Martis (Journalist), Amy Love and Georgia South (Nova Twins), and
Joi Purvy (Artist). Photographer and To The Front co-founder Courtney Cole moderated both discussions.
Yasmine Summan’s YouTube Videos
On their YouTube channel, journalist Yasmine Summan has hosted some great discussions of their own. In June, they posted the video “What Is It Like To Be Black In Rock Music?” with tons of guests. The video description also has a bunch of great links, such as anti-racism resources, relevant research, and media recommendations. In October, they posted “Is Being Alternative a “White People” Thing?” featuring Jhariah. Spoiler alert, it is not.
Awesome Twitter Threads
I spend a lot of my free time on Twitter and have found some great threads to share:
For Black History Month, Yasmin Summan (mentioned above) has been creating some informative Twitter threads. The first thread they created is one about how some artists, like Chase Atlantic and Machine Gun Kelly are welcomed into the alternative scene, whereas others, like Juice Wrld and Scarlxrd, are treated as “just rap.” They also created a thread discussing how white eurocentric beauty standards are built into the ‘alternative’ look, and why this is harmful.
To Discover New Artists
There’s also a ton of BHM threads to help you find new artists to listen to! Here’s some of them:
- Heavy/Alternative artists from Yasmine Summan
- Rock and Metal artists from We Wear Black Podcast
- 28 Days, 28 Alternative Bands from Kelly Lammerts
Cool Spotify Playlists:
- POC ALT – features tons of alternative and punk artists of color from 2010-present; curated by @scenefacts on Twitter
- Queer & POC is Punk Rock – curated by Yasmine Summan
- Rock & Roll isn’t White People Music – songs from all eras and various sub- and rock-adjacent genres; created by me 😁
What have you learned this month? Which new fav artists have you discovered? Let us know in the comments!