Black Women In Rock

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Black women have used rock as a means to  express their independence, their ideologies,  and their rage. It’s  a form of rebellion and activism - especially for the punk, grunge rockers of the 80’s. The Punk era was a turning point in the music industry with the emergence of indie record labels. The goal was to rebel against any and all things “mainstream.”

The punk and grunge rock scene  took that rebellion to the Nth degree, when it emerged on the West Coast, in Seattle. 


Tina Bell was one of the first African-American women to perform grunge, punk and hard rock, as the lead singer of Bam Bam.  The members of Bam Bam were considered musical pioneers “experimenting with sludge rhythms, chopped timings, odd scales, tunings and styles.” Shannon Funchez, of Light Asylum wasn’t far behind, as the first black woman to appear on the cover of The Rocket magazine.


The underground NY scene of the 1990’s, full of nose rings, mohawks and tattoos was set against the glamour of Envogue, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Loyal ‘afro-punks’ followed NY rockers like Tamar-Kali, who was raised a Catholic and grew up singing classical, choral music; MilitiA who ‘earned’ her name from a dominatrix; Maya Price Glick, a.k.a. ‘Mother-Goddess’ whose massive wings and body-glitter were her trademark; and Carolyn ‘Honeychild’ Coleman, with her unique looks and avant garde approach to punk. Rock scenes and new artists popped up in other cities - Atlanta, LA, Philadelphia, Detroit, even Knoxville TN with Straight Line Stitch; and Mobile, Athens, Alabama’s Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes and Thunderbitch).