Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Mother Of Rock-n-RollPhiladelphia Her-Story Up Above My Head
Photo By: Samantha Hollins
I’m remembering Sister Rosetta Tharpe 47 years after she passed away in my hometown Philadelphia (born March 20, 1915 in Cotton Plain, Ak-October 9, 1973). In 1957 the prominent Gospel scene in Philadelphia was buzzing with the likes of the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Ward Singers. That is what allured Rosetta and her husband, Russell Morrison, to move to the City of Brotherly Love. They ended up residing in the Yorktown area on 11th and Master St.. The fifteen years of her creative life behind that door intrigues me whenever I am near. A historical maker is now standing outside of their modest brick home.
Photo By: Samantha Hollins
I grew up merely five blocks away on 16th and Master St., so I knew her footsteps in the neighborhood very well when I visited the locality. A quick stroll from her home to N. 12th St. would lead you to the Bright Hope Baptist Church, where she was a faithful member.
Photo By: Samantha Hollins
Rosetta recorded some of her most notable music while in Philadelphia, including “Sister On Tour” and “The Gospel Truth” on Verve Records. She toured extensively overseas with the likes of Blues greats Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. When she returned to Philly after falling ill, things changed when she had her leg amputated (in 1971) due to diabetic complications. It may have slowed her down, but it did not stop her spirit. Rosetta continued to perform in 1971 and in 1972.
The year when Rosetta Tharpe was scheduled to record a new album with Savoy Records, she passed away at Temple University Hospital. October 9, 1973 Rock Royalty ascended to another plain, leaving her flame of Rock-n-Roll flickering on the North Philly streets. Her celebration of life was sung by her dynamic partner in song, Marie Knight and Gospel Star Marion Williams at her Bright Hope Baptist Church home.
Photo By: Samantha Hollins
When Rosetta was buried at Northwood Cemetery her grave was unmarked. On January 11, 2008 a fundraiser that was held at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA (on the outskirts of Philadelphia) ignited an overflow of support. Full circle friendship prevailed through the Dixie Hummingbirds and Marie Knight who were performing at the fundraiser. With the help of the Memphis Blues Foundation, the Philadelphia Rhyme & Blues foundation and a good friend, enough funds were gathered to bestow a beautiful rose-shaded headstone for the Mother of Rock-n-Roll. That day was also declared Sister Rosetta Tharpe day in Pennsylvania. Time shifting in to 2017, she was inducted in the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame.
Photo By: Samantha Hollins
Rosetta’s presence is embedded in my hometown Philadelphia. Her sound is still echoing here and I believe I caught the tail end of the wave of it as a Rock singer/songwriter/guitarist. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will forever be a monumental Rock-Shero that melodically thrived in and lived in my neighborhood. I hereby induct Sister Rosetta Tharpe in The Culture Rock Hall Of Fame. Rise In Power Ancestral energy! RISE “Up Above My Head”!
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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:
Malina Moye: The Diamonds And Guitars Of A World Renowned Rock Star!
Photo By: Isaiah Mays
With a powerhouse name globally etched into the culture of Funk-Rock, Malina Moye has been engraving her-storical changes in a masculine driven genre. Her presence shines like a rare jewel worth all the accolades. I met Malina in Philadelphia as she inducted Sister Rosetta Tharpe on the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk Of Fame. Her humble spirit was just as extraordinary as her artistry. When Malina Moye’s album Bad as I Wanna Be landed #1 on the Billboard charts I felt the shift of a new portal widening for Black women in Rock.
Samantha Hollins: Where are you from and how did that atmosphere shape your sound that is now world renowned?
Malina Moye: I was born in Ohio and raised in Minneapolis. I think having the Funk side from Ohio and marrying it to Minneapolis, which is the Rock side, definitely had a lot to do with my palate. My parents are musicians and music was always an education to me…learning about artists, breaking down songs. The best way to describe it would be like a teacher giving a student an assignment and discussing what you learned. That was everyday conversation in my household.
Samantha Hollins: I first learned about you when your “K-yotic” music video featuring Bootsy Collins was circulating online. How did that collaboration come to life?
Malina Moye: I wrote the song based on life getting a little crazy at the time. And then while touring around Europe, running in some of the same circles, I ran into Bootsy several times and we all became friends. I then approached him about the record and voila: you have K-YOTIC!
Samantha Hollins: When you learned that you were going to be the first female to join the Jimi Hendrix“Experience Hendrix Tour” what went through you mind? What was is like the moment you stepped on the stage and began to rock out?
Malina Moye: I didn’t know that at first. I was just excited to play with a lot of my guitar heroes and I had a ball! I learned so much from each of those players. The first night I was so nervous. All the guys came to the side of the stage to watch me. I think that was the initiation (lol). It was exciting and I am so grateful to Janie Hendrix for the experience.
Samantha Hollins: The second time I saw you was on the Arsenio Hall Show rockin’ with the house band. It was so profound to witness a melanated woman on T.V. playing the electric guitar (something a lot of us didn’t get to see growing up). What type of response did you get after that moment?
Malina Moye: Thank you, I appreciate that. It was great. It also reminded me how much we still need to evolve and continue to see ourselves in different spaces. I always say representation allows us to see what’s possible. It’s so important. I’m sure there have been many others trying but society makes it difficult to attain certain levels of exposure. In the light of 2020, I’m starting to feel hope. I think a lot more people of color will occupy spaces they’ve been fighting for.
Photo By: Josh Schultz
Samantha Hollins: When did the guitar call you? As a lefty guitarist did you ever get flack for playing in an unorthodox manner?
Malina Moye: I started playing the guitar at nine. My dad handed me a right-handed guitar like a right-handed person would play it. I didn’t like it, so when he left the room, I took the guitar, flipped it upside down and started playing it that way. I loved it ever since. Yes, other guitarists are totally confused or just in shock that someone plays that way…& then I help them discover Albert King, Eric Gales, and some guy called Paul McCartney—all playing the same way. I’m blessed that it works for me, so I just keep trying to get better than I was yesterday.
Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock’n’Roll?
Malina Moye: I’d say early in my life. Probably witnessing my parents play in their band. I love the energy of it! I love any artist who needs no permission to be themselves and to me that’s at the heart of true Rock & Roll. My mom has that energy, so I was exposed to it and in love with it at around five years old. My mom recalls that I would go to the mic and sing with the band.
Samantha Hollins: Tell my Culture Rock Griot readers about your family band and what made you go solo?
Malina Moye: That was my education as an artist. We explored all types of music. It was a family band with my two brothers and my parents. We played all over the country and then ventured internationally. It definitely made me who I am today as an artist. Going solo…I just wanted to discover Malina Moye as an individual artist.
Samantha Hollins: Who or what inspires you? Did meeting Prince early in life shift anything for your pursuit of music?
Malina Moye: I’m so inspired by everything. Life inspires me. I like to look at myself as a vessel that’s always open. Meeting Prince early in my life definitely made me think I could make something happen in music. I remember thinking, ‘hey if Prince thinks I’m cool, then I know I can make something happen’. I remember saying, ‘Mr. Prince after all this I think I can go out and be somebody. Thank you’. He said very shyly as he shook my hand, “I look forward to watching it Malina”.
Photo By: Smooch 1 RT
Samantha Hollins: You are often named as the best female or one of the best female guitarists on many lists. I love seeing your name on the “best of” lists regardless of gender. How do those labels make you feel?
Malina Moye: Thank you for celebrating me, as I celebrate you as well. You’re amazing! I’m glad to simply be thought of, first off. I guess it’s human nature that people like to label things. I’m just happy to be on any list (lol). I for one will be glad when we are all on one list because there are a lot of us out here raising the bar and bringing different things to the instrument. As a female who’s doing something that doesn’t showcase a lot of women represented in the media that way, that becomes a talking point but, a lot of us are finally breaking through to that next level and it helps us all. The good news is there are more women now than ever before playing the guitar, which is cool, But regardless of gender and race the goal is to be a good guitarist; period. I only hope I can represent myself in a way that makes it better for the next woman or player coming in.
Samantha Hollins: What is a day in the life of Malina Moye outside of the spotlight?
Malina Moye: I’m pretty simple. It depends on the day, as I also started venturing in films now as well. I’m up then I answer emails, have breakfast, go for a run, and see what’s on the agenda for the day. No matter what, I always take an hour to walk around the neighborhood to just think and marvel in the wonders of life. And say ‘hi’ to my neighbors.
Samantha Hollins: What was the key moment that motivated you to start your own record label?
Malina Moye: Realizing that I am a different artist. I don’t fit into a specific mold or genre. I’m a Black woman who plays electric guitar and my music is a gumbo of Funk, Rock and Soul.
Samantha Hollins: As an ARTivist I love that you are using your super Shero powers to uplift others. Can you tell me about your foundation?
Malina Moye: Thank you! I can say the same about you! The foundation is called Drive Hope and our mission is to fuel the passion of underserved youth and empower those who possess the desire, yet lack the resources or access, to discover life and career opportunities in their community and throughout the world.
Samantha Hollins: Any new projects that we can start getting excited about?
Malina Moye: I’m excited about my new album which will have a 2021 release. Also, I have a few movie projects and a TV series in development. The future is looking good. Thank you for sharing my story and doing such thorough research. Stay safe! Xo
Samantha Hollins: You are very welcome. You have a very important story that will inspire generations of girls with guitars, heels and business.
A Diary Of Rosa Lee Brooks: Alignment with Jimi Hendrix
In 2001, when I met a Blues artist named Rosa Lee Brooks on Blackplanet.com, I had no idea what an enormous legacy I had encountered. We were all in a music forum that supported Black Rockers. She was always the sage-voice that kept us educated and informed. In 2002 she personally inboxed me (what they now call DM) to simply give support to the birth of my Rock career. I went to her page to read her bio and witnessed an eye full of narrations that changed my perception of what I thought I knew about Jimi Hendrix and it left me pondering: who is this Rosa Lee Brooks?
When she invited me to perform at The Gaslight in Santana Monica, CA I went to Los Angeles ready to learn. “Let’s go to the way back machine”, as Rosa would say.
Rosa’s story captivated me. She blossomed creatively as a child planted in music, with the overflow of musicians in her household then and now. Some how she was always aligned with guitar energy that started with her dad and brother. Rosa was a child prodigy. She played piano and took to the guitar as well. Being amidst the best musicians in her community introduced her to the legendary Johnny “Guitar” Watson at the age of 15. He heard the gift of her voice and she instantly became his protégé. He took Rosa to her first Blues gig, which helped to set the stage for her intriguing future.
In the early 60’s Rosa was a dancer and recording artist; igniting her career with chart climbing songs. She sung with Los Angeles girl group The Ribbons and worked/co-wrote with the Legendary Willie Hutch (Soul City Records). As I connect the timeline, Jimi Hendrix was playing with bands like the Isley Brothers and soon Little Richard around that time. I’m starting to see how the Universe planned this meeting that would shift both of their journey’s. They were state lines apart sparkling flames of musical passion.
The alignment prevailed New Years Eve going into 1964. Little Richard was in town with his show featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar. That fate driven night led Rosa Lee Brooks to the Ike and Tina Tuner show in Los Angeles, CA and destiny allured Jimi Hendrix there as well. Once their paths crossed, an instant connection was made and they rode off into the Sunset Blvd.
Yet again the guitar drew in the captivating bliss of Rosa’s voice. This time it was transformed into butterflies and heart shaped emotions (at the Wilcox hotel where Jimi was staying) that gave birth to “My Diary” and “Utee” (that displayed Jimi Hendrix first Rock solo) by Rosa Lee Brooks and Jimi Hendrix. She goes down in history as the only woman he ever had a relationship with and recorded music with. They wanted to be the next Ike and Tina. It was a brief, yet potent meeting of souls and music that lives in Rosa to this day. You can see it at her shows. She still performs in Los Angeles, CA, doing her famous jam session with notable musicians worldwide. You can feel that vibe on West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology (released November 16, 2010), where her songs with Jimi Hendrix now live, but most of all it’s under the turquoise stone over her heart.
Rosa went on manifesting her-story by starting her first band in 1966. She has been in a working band ever since. She also pays it forward by mentoring artist worldwide (including myself). Jimi Hendrix went on to New York City, started his legendary career in London with the Experience and Band Of Gypsys down the line. An abundance of life happened between them and separately. November 18, 1970 Jimi (James Marshall) Hendrix passed on (may he continue to Rest In Power). The majestic connection Rosa Lee Brooks had with Jimi Hendrix motivates her to uplift his legacy, while continuing to live in her historic truth.
Here is my interview with Rosa Lee Brooks. I captured this priceless footage while I was in Los Angeles, CA January 2019 (for NAMM).
Follow Rosa Lee Brooks on her social media channels. Get in formation with all the “Jiminess”, as she calls it. Next time she has a show in L.A. you have to have to check her out. Her long-running band The Brooks Project is phenomenal!
As an ARTivist I am inspired to share inspirational stories. I created this village for community builders as a support center. What can we do to help, uplift and motivate each other? If we move together, we grow together. Check out the narrative of Titus Augustine Omaojo of Kogi State, Nigeria. I am working with Titus to raise funds for a young student by the name of Angela Eleojo Austin. She is a student of Holy Ghost College Okura Saw-Mill and is in need of $1000 to finish school. Feel free to check out Titus story and go to the SuSu Connection right here to contribute. https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/blog-community-builder-fund/
Titus Augustine Omaojo
Samantha Hollins: What is the sole mission of your organization?
Titus Augustine Omaojo: Students for Liberty is an international libertarian non-profit organization whose stated mission is to educate, develop, and empower the next Leaders in Africa.
Samantha Hollins: What role do you conduct?
Titus Augustine Omaojo: A Local Coordinator of Africa Students for Liberty (ASFL).
Samantha Hollins: Tell me a little about your background? Where were you born and how a program like this could benefit the children of your environment?
Titus Augustine Omaojo: I am a graduate of Kogi State University (Anyigba, Kogi State Nigeria), Second Class Upper Division from Sociology Department. Having grown from a poor family and suffered injustice, my passion is to help build a humane society where every child’s destiny will be determined by his or her competency.
Samantha Hollins: How does your job reflect the outcome of the youth in furthering their chosen career path?
Titus Augustine Omaojo: Africa as a continent has overtime endured bad leadership. This has vast consequences on the development of the continent at large. With the right leadership and a freer society, Africa will achieve her full potential.An African society where a Son of Nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody. I have dedicated my knowledge and skills to fight for the liberty of all in Africa.
Samantha Hollins: What can everyday people do to assist in these current times of financial uncertainty?
Titus Augustine Omaojo: Your small financial contribution would help me to actualize this dream of a freer African society.
If you are enjoying the content here feel free to contribute. A huge portion of the funding will go towards supporting our “Hardcore Community Builders” segment (that will be featured). There are many organizations that are dear to me globally. There are just as many struggling artist in the Rock music world that need support. We will focus on bringing attention to them. We are immensely grateful for your support and contributions. We strive to give you content that will entertain, educate and culturally move your soul. For everything that is given, we will pay it forward.
Introducing São Paulo, Brazil’s Punk Warriors Punho De Mahin
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
I love discovering new bands in the world that are keeping the roots of Rock pervading. On July 23, 2019 I reached out to a sister by the name of Juliana Aparecida of Metaleiras Negras (about Black women/Black people in Rock’n’Roll and Heavy Metal) in São Paulo, Brazil. I told her I was interested in putting together a show in São Paulo with other Black women in Rock and she pointed me in the direction of Punho De Mahin. After checking them out, I was amped AF! The power of their Punk Rock is unapologetically raw and conscious. I needed to know more about this band I would be rockin’ with once this “new normal” allowed us to tour again. Thanks to technology Portuguese and English translated into the language of Rock-n-Roll!
Samantha Hollins: Welcome to the Culture Rock Griot. Please introduce the band lineup, each position they play and the gear they use.
Punho De Mahin: First of all thanks for the invitation and know that we follow and admire your work. You are without a doubt an excellent musician.
The band consists of:
Camila Araújo-guitarist-Eagle Stratocaster
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Dú Costa-Bassist-Cort B5
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Samantha Hollins: I love the name of your band and what it represents. Please explain why you chose Punho De Mahin?
Punho De Mahin: The first time we met, we all received the same idea of referring to a name. It had to be something that made reference to a woman, a quilombola revolt or some revolution. We began to study several revolts that took place during the slavery period and to discover the powerful figure of Luiza Mahin, a Muslim woman who would have been a princess of the Ivory Coast, of the Mahi tribe in Africa. Brought as a slave to Bahia (State of northeastern Brazil), with her intelligence and articulation she was one of the main leaders of the Malês Revolt – one of the most emblematic revolts of the period. In Brazil and in the world, a dominant White elite has always acted to erase Black history, its victories and achievements, so there is information about this fascinating character in our history.
Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock’n’Roll?
Natália Matos: I believe that around the age of 14 or 15, I started listening to radio specific to the genre.
Camila Araújo: Around 12 years old when I bought my first Nirvana CD.
Dú Costa: It was the influence of the older brother who woke me to the sound of Black Sabbath in 1986.
Samantha Hollins: Is there a mainstream market for Rock’n’Roll in São Paulo? If so tell me more about the representation of Melanated Rockers? If not tell me your thoughts on why not?
Punho De Mahin: There is no specific music market for Black Rockers. There are spaces in São Paulo for Black people with different cultural activities, and that may include Rock or not. There is no commercial interest for the Rock in Brazil. There was a golden period in the 80s and 90s and it gradually disappeared. The music industry is fully focused on the popular styles. But it does not affect us. We have an appreciation for the Underground that has proved to be a space of resistance with the appearance of several bands with Black members, with Black women, bands composed of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and all with strong political and social content.
The Rock Houses are mostly open to Rock bands that do tributes and covers by established bands. There are not many places for the Underground. The mainstream of Rock is just another means of entertainment, while the Rock made in the underground scene, for the most part, has political and social appeal in its lyrics and posture.
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Samantha Hollins: Your sound is so raw and very authentic. What influenced you to create your style of Punk Rock?
Punho De Mahin: We have Punk Rock as a school within Rock; varying among other aspects. The four have other distinct musical influences and all together is what forms the style of Punho.
Samantha Hollins: Please finish this sentence? Punho De Mahin’s lyrical content will make you:
Punho De Mahin: Our ancestors, that due to a condition called slavery were reduced to nothing, must have their values, memories and great deeds somehow restored. Therefore, in order to do so, PUNHO DE MAHIN recalls this history and transmutes the ancestry presented nowadays
Samantha Hollins: What is the energy like at a Rock show in São Paulo?
Punho De Mahin: São Paulo is a megalopolis with more than 12 million people from various backgrounds and this is reflected in the shows. There are several audiences in the same style. The public tends to be more critical, observant and attentive to the lyrics and performance artists. There is an audience that likes to watch shows only from established bands or bands that play covers (the vast majority) and there is an audience that honors new bands that are on the Underground circuit. Both of them transmit a lot of energy to both the player and the audience.
Samantha Hollins: I am interested in learning about a typical meal you would eat before or after a show?
Punho De Mahin: There is actually no specific meal before the show, but junk food for sure (lol) before and after the shows.
I happened to play hungry due to lack of time, lack of places to eat or even from taking food from home, but in general it will depend on the region we play. Our guitarist Camila is a chef and has worked in famous restaurants in São Paulo and we will propose a pre and post show menu (lol).
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Samantha Hollins: Tell me about the vibe at band rehearsal?
Punho De Mahin: As well as the shows being energizing our rehearsals are too, and it is always guaranteed fun!
Ideas flow naturally.
We like to talk about our experiences, as this also helps in the creative process of the band.
Samantha Hollins: Describe the process leading up to a show?
Punho De Mahin: The shows are often organized by collectives, some producer in partnership with the concert halls or houses of culture. We also organized some events, so we encountered some difficulties, but the result is always satisfactory.
Samantha Hollins: With so much creative activism in your music, what is Punho De Mahin’s mission?
Punho De Mahin: Awareness and confront “AFROntar” the structurally racist, sexist and fascist society in which we live. We want to highlight our ancestry and make evident the stories of conquests and struggles of Black men and women who gave their lives for freedom and equal rights.
Samantha Hollins: Being that your band formed in 2019 where do you see yourselves 5 years from now?
Punho De Mahin: We hope to have reached as many people as possible with our message, playing in various regions of Brazil and with at least two recorded albums. Who knows? Maybe play in other countries?
Photo By: @Sigarciasi (Simony)
Samantha Hollins: Are there any cultural rituals deep rooted in your music or live performances that is totally a Brazilian thing?
Punho De Mahin: The predominant style is Punk, with all its variables. However, the band is not limited to traditionalisms, so that in some songs we introduced some rhythmic elements typical of northeastern Brazil and it was really cool. These rhythmic possibilities can and will be further explored when we rehearse.
Samantha Hollins: Thank you so much for your time. Do you have anything coming up that you would like to share with the Culture Rock Griot audience?
Punho De Mahin: I would like to thank the public and you for the space for the interview. We expect you here in Brazil soon to play on the same stage.
Samantha Hollins: What lessons have you learned that you would share with young Rockers of African descent coming up in Brazil?
Punho De Mahin: We would like to tell these young people that they should not in any way let someone say what they should be, what they should do or question their ability. And say that the Rock is theirs. Rock is Black. PUNK WAS BORN BLACK. The subversive music is Black and they should occupy all possible spaces so that everyone can hear your voice!
Samantha Hollins: You are very welcome Punho De Mahin. I will be counting down to the moment I get to feel your revitalizing sound live. Your interview is confirmation, that no matter where people of African descent dwell in the world, the struggle is the same. Punk Rock is merely one of your weapons of choice. Your creative ARTivism is much needed and appreciated. I am practicing my Portuguese, so Obrigado para você Punho De Mahin!
Check out Punho De Mahin on their social media channels:
August 30, 1969 Santana’s self titled album released a cultural ambiance of traditional African rhythms fused with a Classic Rock edge. As I hold this album that is older than me (given by my mother), I’ve grown to appreciate the vibration even higher.
The sound of timeless music will pervade over bridges of eternity, reminding us of a definitive moment in time. I remember my mother playing “Evil Ways” over and over again when I was just a child. When “Soul Sacrifice” came on I felt an subconscious ancient connection. This majestic masterpiece “Santana” is more than an album, it’s a huge part of my musical DNA.
Discovering the personification of true art can be like digging in the crates at the record store. Once we find that rare artist that is mint condition it is imperative that we take care of them and give them their flowers. The mainstream is not the only stream that is overflowing with creative genius.
Honeychild Coleman is an underground Rock Queen that sprinkles majestic guitar energy, visual words and ancient vocal charms worldwide. She encompasses a sterling punk, yet abstract genre blending musical experience like nothing you’ve ever heard. This sister’s career is what legends are made of.
Samantha Hollins: I first learned about you in James Spooner’sAfro-Punk. When it was released how did it impact you and your career?
Honeychild Coleman: First of all it was life-affirming to hear how similar the path to being Black and loving Rock-n-Roll was for many of us; how we had all felt so alone for so long. Even though many of us in the Black Rock and Punk scenes here in New York had found each other long before James’ film, it was wonderful to feel recognized as legitimate in my lifestyle and choices. I did receive a bit of press and some interviews as the film gained momentum with awards and film festivals…and thanks to the iconic portrait taken by my then roommate, stylist Karen LeVitt, my image was featured in nearly every interview and review of the film.
Photo By: Ed Marshall
Samantha Hollins: You are the epitome of a true artist. I would like know what is the core of your inspiration?
Honeychild Coleman: I stand on the shoulders of some strong creative forces in my family. My mother, Doris Martin Coleman was a writer. My father, Alfis Coleman SR, managed bands, including the band of my cousin Doug Miller (Third World Edition). My grandfather, Joe Coleman, played banjo and mandolin. My grandmother, Henrietta Bell, painted. My cousin, Michael Morrow, exposed me to his amazing music collection and singing at an early age…and my uncle William Martin was a bit of a psychedelic artist. I grew up taking it for granted that people had multiple creative outlets and interests….and I gravitated towards making a life on that path.
Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock ‘n’ Roll?
Honeychild Coleman: I was definitely young…before I was even old enough to attend grade school…the first rock I remember hearing was the Beatles, Jan and Dean, The Kinks, The Animals, Jimi Hendrix, and The Monkees, which I watched DAILY. My mom and my aunt were serving you Mod and Supremes (who i was obsessed with) vibes in their musical tastes and fashions so there was plenty of Motown in rotation on the record player. Then I saw Chuck Berry, Tina Turner and my hero Bo Diddley on television and that sealed the deal.
Photo By: C. P. Krenkler
Samantha Hollins: How did the guitar land in your hands? And do you play any other instruments?
Honeychild Coleman: I think my dad really wanted us to be a family band like The Jackson 5. He came home one day with amplifiers and guitars for my brothers. My brother Don was already playing upright bass in jazz band but otherwise I was playing clarinet and my brother Al was playing trumpet. Al and Antonio both picked up the electric guitar and when they were out with their friends down the block I would shyly ask if they minded if I played them (they never did!). I thought nothing of it, plucking away at The Go-Go’s and Devo tunes and carried on with my life as a visual artist. I went off to art school and many years later started to seriously consider guitar.
Samantha Hollins: When you moved to New York what was your cultural transformation? Did you bring a piece of Kentucky amidst your creative offering?
Honeychild Coleman: It was a BIG change! I moved to Manhattan from an all White (at that time) suburb in Louisville, KY called Okolona that had no public transportation or even sidewalks outside of the neighborhood. I already loved walking but here everything was faster; walking…talking…creative ideas. By Christmas break I was beginning to lose a bit of my Southern accent because folks in New York couldn’t understand my fast-mumble, ha ha! I thought I would move here and just blend into the shadows because the city is just full of cool and fabulous people. One day on the way to Parsons I was standing on 14th street with my hair spiked and gelled to the high heavens and someone yelled at me from a passing car that I looked like Nona Hendryx. That’s when I knew I was in the right city.
Samantha Hollins: You are extremely diverse with the projects you’re evolved with. Can you please tell the Culture Rock audience about the bands you are in?
BACHSLIDER (Feminist and Women’s Issues focused heavy post Punk/Psych-Rock trio ) with Annu Lilja(Lionel Rocks) and Ramsey Jones (Funkface/RZA/MAAFA/Rebelmatic) – Independent
DEM (solo Electronic/Dub project) – 8RM Brooklyn USA
GKA (politically driven Electro-Punk duo) with my partner Crito Thornton (Crit3rion/2MAD/Brooklyn Beats)
HEAVENSBEE (Spooky Reggae/2-tone project) by Marco Wasserman and Roger Apollon (Bigger Thomas/Rude Boy George), with Dunia Best (Agent 99/Dubistry), Olivier Rhee (The Boilers), and various guest vocalists – Independent
HONEYCHILD COLEMAN (solo Dream-Pop and Punk) Invisiblegirl Records (UK) and Matteite Records (Italy)
THE 1865 (Blues-Punk quartet) with Musician/Filmmaker Sacha Jenkins (Fresh Dressed /Of Mics and Men), Flora Lucini (MAAFA) and Jason “Biz” Lucas (Dragonz of Zynth)-Mass Appeal Records
Photo By: Thomas Appel
Samantha Hollins: Out of all the stages you’ve performed on, what venues intrigued you the most sonically?
CBGB’s for the legendary history AND sound, hands down
The Cooler NYC (also, sadly, no longer open) – too many great shows to list – wonderful sound
Meow MIx NYC – it was our LES paradise, all women run, great sound – recorded my 1st solo CD there
Coney Island High – had everything from Punk and Glam Rock to Drum and Bass nights
Arlene’s Grocery – impeccable sound and local feeling – easy to pack the room
Max Fish – The 1865 has a monthly there called The Rock House (with MAAFA, Rebelmatic and a special guest band) – Super Punk, great staff and fun walk in crowd
The Wetlands – I did a weekly open mic there run by Christo “Gonzo” Gonzales (R.I.P.) first saw Toshi Reagon among many other great talents -Koncrete Jungle was also there for a spell
Samantha Hollins: When you take flights how do you prefer your guitar to be handled?
Honeychild Coleman: FRAGILE! Carry on and gate-check only. Ideally stored in front of plane if not overhead. If I fly with a soft case I stuff it with clothing to cushion my guitar (usually merch shirts ). I am a bit of an instrument packing novice. On my last solo tour in Europe I picked up an amplifier in Ireland which I had bubble wrapped then shrink wrapped to my suitcase to save on the baggage fees.
Photo By: C. P. Krenkler
Samantha Hollins:DJ Sugar Free is another side of your artistry that I think is so awesome. What made you start spinning? What genres do you play?
Honeychild Coleman: I began spinning as DJ SugarfreeBK because aside from my fellow Sistagrrl Maya, AKA Mother Goddess, at that time no one else was really spinning Rock-n-Roll in the East Village. I also wanted to spin the music of my friends to turn people onto it. I had the good fortune of falling in with a women-run DJ crew called Table Manners lead by my friend Petal. They were spinning strictly Drum and Bass and got tired of always being the special guest or treated like a novelty. So at this party the men would be the guest DJs. I was singing with their sets doing freestyle vocals and asked if they would let me spin during happy hour to warm up so I could learn how to use the mixer and turntables. It worked in my favor because if anyone was running late I had extra time to hone my craft. And so it began. Soon I was introduced to SupaJen by our mutual friend Joshua Lorr, who had been designing these awesome DJ bags for us all at Yak Pak. He and Jen had a party going on St. Mark’s Place at Open Air Bar. Once we met and talked about records they invited me to do a guest tag team set. Jen and I hit it off and started our own party. Then DJ Shakey heard we were looking for a permanent spot and invited us to try a few nights at Botanica Bar. We spun everything from Metal to Electro to Grunge to New Wave and Punk. So much fun! I mainly focus on Rock and Ska now and Indie Rock but still have a soft spot for Electro Funk and Freestyle.
Photo By: The late great Mike Brodie aka Laidback Mike Photography
Samantha Hollins: What’s a day in the life of your writing process? What instrument do you create with? Do you write sheet music?
Honeychild Coleman: I played clarinet from 5th to 7th grade, then eventually I stopped reading music. My varied approaches to writing include keeping several lyric books going at all times, rough recordings of ideas on the fly, free flow writing and playing. I write basic guitar and bass tabs, which helped immensely when I picked up the Baritone guitar, but mainly still play by ear. Sometimes I sit down with a concept in mind and write from there, as was the case with writing the album with Sacha and The 1865, and also our process in my band GKA.
Samantha Hollins: Since you have such a brilliant way of making a song sound visual, it seems that it was such a natural progression for your music to transcend to film. What is the story behind your song “Echelon” featured in the Sundance award winning film “Pariah”?
Honeychild Coleman: Perhaps coming from a visual background helps in my writing. I dream songs as well so having music in film has been thrilling. “Echelon” was written before “Pariah”, and in the scene where the song plays out, I was overcome at how well it fit. I wrote that song about feeling out of social class access to someone…entering uncharted territory emotionally and understanding what those barriers are. I had a similar reaction in the scene featuring another song I wrote, “Parallel”, with my old band Audio Dyslexia. To witness the protagonist go through the emotions on screen gave the music a new life and energy. This soundtrack was the only real release of any music Audio Dyslexia had ever recorded.
Samantha Hollins: How does an acoustic set conduct your energy versus an electric set? What’s the difference? What’s similar?
Honeychild Coleman: Acoustic sets for me are more emotionally bare. You can really tug at the audience dynamically as they can hear and process the lyrics as well as direct all of the focus towards you. Playing acoustically can feel more personal and sometimes fragile. The rawness of emoting sound alone can be powerful. When I was on tour with Apollo Heights and we had a residency in Paris, we played at this wine bar called Les Rendezvous des Amis. We sat around on wine barrels as there was no real stage…no microphones…no amps. It was very intimate and relaxed. Otherwise I tend to play semi-unplugged; guitar is electric but no other sounds – and some effects, but rarely fully clean or acoustic. Even stripped down I like the guitar or mountain dulcimer to have a little growl – a little twang.
Samantha Hollins: What is the overall mission you would like to set in stone as an artist?
Honeychild Coleman: My parents not-so-secretly raised me to be an activist and involved in my community. I like the idea of utilizing art and creative expression as a way to reach people and connect while also sharing information; having a message. My creative mentor Hank Shocklee gave me a valuable piece of advice. He said people need to feel hope. So I try to do all of these things while also having fun. To be authentic, fearless and yet also allow myself to be human because the standards often put on us as Black women can feel impossibly inescapable. Music and art help rise above it.
Samantha Hollins: Are there any projects that we should check out past, present or future that will let us dig more into the legacy of Honeychild Coleman?
All hail this flaming hot new song entitled Demon Grave by Botswana’s hardcore lords Overthrust! The static of fury steadily rises from the dead, possessing a wrath of wicked intonation tangled in the web of this mosh pit anthem! Demon Grave digs up a heavier seed of brutal sanctuary for the undertaking of Overthrust fans. The volume of my energy is on extreme overload as I rock out to this massive banger!
All Music W&P by Overthrust
Lyrics written by Vulture Thrust
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Jethro Harris at Milestone Studio, Cape Town, South Africa.
Artwork courtesy of Luke Stroebel Designs
Rhythm guitar – Dawg Thrust
Lead Guitar – Spencer Thrust
Bass/ Lead Vocals – Vulture Thrust
Drums – Beast Thrust
Go here to purchase one of the hardest songs to thrash on my ear drums in 2020 so far: