Representation matters, especially in the art world. While there are countless black woman fronted bands worth following, here are 10 great suggestions from KSLU’s own Dara Calmes to get you started.
1. Light Asylum
Front-woman Shannon Funchess has a voice that will make you swoon, deep and whiskey-coated melodies floating on cigarette smoke outside of a dive bar you’re not quite sure exists. She’s a talented vocalist and drummer, and the embodiment of goth Grace Jones. Crafting alongside Funchess is her bandmate, Bruno Coviello. Light Asylum makes synth-dark-wave electronic music and it’s the perfect remedy for a rainy night, home alone.
Elise Okusami is Oceanator, a force of nature swirling around buildings, pouring over streets, beckoning you to join her in the depths of the sea. Oceanator is post-grunge out of Brooklyn, New York. If you’re a nostalgia-junkie, I highly recommend Okusami’s music, it’s got the soft verse versus hard chorus and the distortion that made the 90s feel grimmy and fantastical.
3. Meet Me @ the Altar
Edith Johnson helps hold the bonds for the trio Meet Me @ the Altar, a Florida pop-punk that begs you to empathize, listen, and dance. The vines, the marsh, the heat… all pieces of Florida that grow independently, freely, and uncaring… that’s how Meet Me @ the Altar works. This woman of color three-piece discusses heavy themes all to Johnson’s catchy voice and their riffty guitars. That’s what makes punk what it is, political tunes for the dreamers, for the alternative, for the people.
4. Straight Line Stitch
Alexis Brown can croon as well as growl. Her voice is a mighty force that can be as soft as a gentle caress and as dangerous as a predator hiding in the distance. Straight Line Stitch is another Southern state band, hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee. They’re a metalcore band who can handle being melodic and heavy. Brown isn’t afraid to discuss her feelings, she’s an honest song-writer that wants to make you honest with yourself.
5. Bleed the Pigs
All love to Tennessee! Kayla Phillips goes hard, her voice lets you know she’s serious and she’s powerful. Grindcore band Bleed the Pigs is abrasive and brutal and loudly says “I’ll meet you in the pit, boy”. This is music to two-step and throw bows to with their dirty breakdowns and Phillips’ guttural roars.
6. Big Joanie
Let’s bring Riot Grrrl culture back and let’s put Big Joanie at the forefront of female punk. Composed of three awesome women, Big Joanie is a post-punk band that is firm in their politics and their affirmation of their fellow woman. Lead-singer Steph Phillips can howl and rift on her guitar while fellow bandmates Chardine-Taylor Stone and Estella Adeyeri help keep the rhythm.
7. Alabama Shakes
You gotta know Alabama Shakes and the distinctive voice of Brittany Howard. She edges on that old-timey folk and good ole rock’n’roll while jamming to blues-rock with her three other band members. They’ve won four Grammy Awards and have been on several movie soundtrack albums. This is dance in your underwear while alone music. This is main character in your own story music. This is driving in your car, screaming at the world music.
8. New Bloods
Spoiler Alert: New Bloods are no longer together. However, if you want 70’s-style punk then look no further than them. It’s probably a good time to add that New Bloods played with a fiddle and absolutely threw down at various DIY punk house shows. Band members included Osa Atoe, Adee Roberson, and Cassia Gammill, all talented individuals who breathed life into a project that worked well. RIP New Bloods.
9. Tank and The Bangas
Hello, NPR Tiny Desk? Tank and The Bangas rose to national fame with their NPR Tiny Desk submission of their song “Quick”. They are New Orleans natives that keep the sounds of the city alive in their music. Lead singer, Tank, has one of the craziest vocal ranges and loves to keep listeners on her toes. Her and the band never perform a song the same way. It proves their talent and chemistry together when you watch about six people on stage jam together, with no slip-ups.
10. Alabaster Stag
Let’s talk local. Alabaster Stag grooves and funks, and they’ve got a powerhouse lead singer to help. Chloé Marie Johnson is a solo-artist as well as the frontwoman of Alabaster Stag. She’s proven to be a charming writer and magnetic on the stage. When the virus finally goes back into a lull I definitely recommend taking time to catch Chloé Marie live.
Byline: Dara Calmes