Starr Cullars: Nobody Funks With The Amazon Rock Queendom
When I started interviewing Starr Cullars for an exhibition I was curating (in our hometown Philadelphia last year), she was in motion to attend the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony with Parliament-Funkadelic on May 11, 2019.
Somewhere in Philly, when I first started out on the music scene (it had to be between 2000-2004), I was invited to witness magic. With the allure of a dungeon-deep bass line accompanied by a hardcore vocal roar, I was like “Wow who is this”? Someone said “you don’t know about Starr”? Right away I thought “well I know now”! She WAS the show and she dominated her male counterparts with grace and grit. At the time I didn’t know how much I needed to see that. She rendered me with inspiration as a Black Woman in Rock! Starr Cullars has kicked down many enormous doors and has pulled down a legacy of glass ceilings; creating windows of opportunity for women in Rock.
Samantha Hollins: When was the 1st time you fell in love with Rock’n’Roll? and what ignited your interest in playing bass (guitar)?
Starr CulIars: I asked for a guitar when I was 5 years old. My Dad brought back a little Roy Rodgers’ plastic guitar. I strummed it, looked at it, and gave it back saying “Dad, I want a REAL guitar!” So my Father brought me a little Yamaha nylon stringed guitar. I strummed it, smiled and kept going. While I was singled out of music classes to solo acoustic guitar instructional, I started hearing and playing bass notes and parts on the guitar. Then my Dad brought me a Jazz copy heavy-thick Bass. And I started playing in the better neighborhood R&B/Funk bands. By college I had gone on to PRINCE and became his disciple; a few years before I was hired by The P-Funk.
Samantha Hollins: Please tell the Culture Rock Griot readers about your connection with Prince?
Starr Cullars: This is my full Prince encounter, and mentorship into the professional industry:
Samantha Hollins: What year was your band established?
Starr Cullars: My band, The Starr Cullars Crew (The SCC), was established in 2001. I am the only female-musician-member from George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic; and I began opening for the P-Funk with my band in 2001.
Samantha Hollins: Were you signed to any record labels, management deals or agencies?
Starr Cullars: I was under a production deal with George Clinton. And I had 2 different deals under that production; recordings owned by Clinton.
Samantha Hollins: What was your debut song, hit song or the song that your core fans will identify you with?
Starr Cullars: Among some of them: Red Alert, Femme Fatale, I’ll Kick Your Muthafunkin Ass!
Samantha Hollins: I love that you are taking charge of your own career. What drove you to start Cosmic Nation Productions?
Starr CulIars: So many factors were involved with my starting Cosmic Nation Productions. Among them were: 1) Lack of ANY kind of company that endorses REAL Women Musicians 2) The complete misogynistic, macho abuse and sabotage 3) The complete ABSENCE of any endorsement and support for BLACK WOMEN in ROCK MUSIC. I wanted to be The Boss; the one who is completely in power and in charge of my career: the vision, the direction, the philosophy, the creativity. And only I would be capable to guide the company ship the best way. I also obtained my MBA (Masters of Business) degree to fortify my position.
Starr Cullars CD “Living Galaxy” on her Cosmic Nation Production Company.
Samantha Hollins: Name any prominent venues or events your band played?
Starr Cullars: The Robin Hood Dell East, The Mann Music Center, The Electric Factory (just in Philly). The BB Kings Club, The Wetlands, Tramps (in NYC). The House of Blues, The BB Kings Club, The Nokia (in Los Angeles).
Samantha Hollins: What is the game changing role your band impacted in the Rock genre/sub Rock genre?
Starr Cullars: Without question the game-changing role has been and is: The Bass-Player/Lead-Singer/Songwriter! Who happens to be a Black-Native-Indian-WOMAN; who is the only female-musician-member from P-Funk…Who is a TRUE-Hard-Progressive-Rocker!
Samantha Hollins: You are like a super Shero powerhouse bassist. Who and what inspires you?
Starr CulIars: Thank you, Duchess Samantha! There are a few male influences, but they have all gotten far too much exposure throughout the centuries! So I am reserving this to the WOMEN who have inspired me. From being a child and teenager, I always was directly inspired by Wonder Woman and The Amazons! I knew I was the Wonder Woman in every part of my life. More specifically I was and am Wonder Woman’s Black Twin Sister, Nubia: the 1st & true Wonder Woman! Then although we are in different music genres; I was majorly influenced by Janice Marie Johnson, lead-singer/bass-player of Taste of Honey. By the way Janice and I are friends now (mentor & disiciple). She has interviewed me on her cable-tv show, “Women Behind The Beat”. And finally I would have to say as a business mogul inspiration: Oprah Winfrey. And let’s give a shout-out notice to YOU, Duchess Samantha, for being Music Goddess and MAMA of your little ones!
Samantha Hollins: Inject your sage wisdom into the new generation of Rockers?
Starr Cullars: For any aspiring musicians or singers; I would say first, be authentic to your true self. Explore and discover, first, to see if being a serious contender in this business is for you. And for any women who might be interested in this…PLEASE, for yourself and my sanity…ESTABLISH IF YOU ARE REALLY A TRUE MUSICIAN, PLAYER OR SINGER. Then truly…seriously learn, practice, play hard…and continue to do that throughout your life! Then you will establishing a true path for yourself in this business of music.
Samantha Hollins: Your career is what longevity is all about. What’s next for you?
- Powerfully and gracefully moving forward!
- I will be further establishing and growing my company to thriving progress.
- Performing tours and events that Cosmic Nation is commanding and/or working in collaboration with Live Nation.
- Producing the documentary films and videos that produce successful profits and establish respect in the industry
- …and being a parental Auntie to my nephews and nieces
- …and expanding my whole Goddess-Priestess-Self for my most positive world.
Thank you, Goddess Samantha!
Samantha Hollins: Thank you for your world famous Star that shines so humbly, while kicking hardcore legendary ass!
Go here to take flight upon Starr Cullars Cosmic Nation Productions:
Purchase Starr’s Cullars Living Galaxy CD here:
If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.