When I first agreed to run a blog on our website, I had all of these ideas for posts and intended to write a new one every week...but obviously I really let things fall through the cracks and didn’t write a new post for weeks. I was even planning on posting some fun things starting at the beginning of June to celebrate Pride, but then the world erupted in outrage over the death of George Floyd and other Black folks at the hands of the police. After that, my time and energy was expended elsewhere, as I spent hours online keeping up with protests and other #BlackLivesMatter news, and even more hours afterwards recovering mentally, emotionally, and physically. Part of that recovery has been listening to music that brings me joy.
Just a few days ago, as I listened to one of my favorite playlists, I realized how much of my current music taste is influenced and created by amazing Black musical artists, especially Black womxn*, some of whom I already knew identified as LGBTQ+. It was those thoughts that lead me to writing this post.
So, in celebration of Pride and because Black lives, music, and art matter, here is a list of some of my favorite Black LGBTQ+ musical artists right now, plus a tiny blurb from their Spotify profile about each artist, and songs that I recommend.
*by replacing the “a/e” in “woman/women” with an “x” I am intentionally being inclusive of womxn of color, trans womxn, non-binary/agender/gender-queer folks who identify with the term, and any other person who would identify as womxn.
Black queer singer, songwriter, poet, and activist.
"Tempering sharp and powerful lyrics with a sweetly melodic voice, Jamila Woods is an activist, award-winning poet, and singer/songwriter whose inspirations include Gwendolyn Brooks and Toni Morrison, as well as Erykah Badu and Kendrick Lamar."
Recommended songs: pretty much any of her songs, especially from the album HEAVN
Black non-binary pansexual singer, songwriter, rapper, and actress.
"Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and actor Janelle Monáe...developed into one of the most dynamic artists of her time, fusing soul, funk, hip-hop, and new wave--among other genres--with a spirited approach that seemed to treat entertainment and art as indivisible."
Recommended songs: Make Me Feel (E), Pynk (E), I Got the Juice (E)
Afro-Indigenous gender-nonconforming rapper, singer, and actress.
"The New York-born Puerto Rican MC, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, style icon, actress, and activist amplifies her own voice across music, fashion, film and society...Quietly rising up as a voice the game needs, Princess Nokia continues to rap for all the right reasons."
Recommended songs: Sugar Honey Iced Tea (E), Green Eggs & Ham (E), Balenciaga (E), Mine (E)
Nitty Scott, MC
Afro-latina and Indigenous queer bisexual singer, rapper, and poet.
"Nitty Scott is an Afro-Latina recording artist and poet via New York City...Whether she's release her music solely independent, touring internationally or engaged in community outreach, Nitty's work continues to evolve and expand as a promising lyricist, performer, and social justice advocate."
Recommended songs: the entire Creature! album, but specifically Mango Nectar (E), La Diaspora (E), Pelo
Black queer rapper and singer.
"Ivy Sole is a rapper-singer from Charlotte, NC living in the one & only Philadelphia, PA. She loves jazz chords in trap and indie samples in boom bap."
Recommended songs: Dream Girl, Rollercoaster, All Mine, How High
Black trans woman singer, songwriter, and trans rights activist.
"Singer/Songwriter, Human rights activist...She wrote LGBTQ anthems such as I Am Her, American Pie, and I Am America."
Recommended songs: American Pie, Don’t shoot
Black and Cherokee agender pansexual rapper and singer.
"Angel Haze is a poetry-turned-rap act based out of New York...the artist uses deep knowledge of self to channel various personality aspects, being vulnerable and emotional one minute and suddenly brash and aggressive the next."
Recommended songs: Battle Cry, A Tribe Called Red, Werkin Girls (E)
Honorable Mention aka Fave Black LGBTQ+ Ally artist
Black cis-woman LGBTQ+ ally, singer and songwriter
"A forthright lyricist and understated vocalist who as singled out the likes of Minnie Riperton and Mya as two of her many inspirations..."
Recommended songs: Shea Butter Baby (E), Whipped Cream, New Apartment (E), Night Drive
As I said in my little profile there on the right, I really love Bollywood movies. I love the cheesy and sometimes ridiculous plot lines, I love the dumbly long songs about love and heartbreak, I love the unrealistic love at first sight moments, and dramatic hero moments....I love it all!
For anyone who doesn't know, Bollywood is the nickname for the Hindi-language film industry based out of the city of Mumbai, previously called Bombay—hence the nickname Bollywood (Bombay + Hollywood = Bollywood). Though not the only film industry in India, it is by far the largest and most popular worldwide.
Now, Bollywood movies definitely aren't for everyone. They can be very long (Bunty Aur Babli is nearly 3 hours long!), there are countless (and long) musical numbers and highly exaggerated dramatic moments, and the plots are sometimes repetitive. BUT many of them are also amazing works of art; the poetry and choreography of the songs and dances are incredible, the plots don't limit themselves to a single genre, the stories are often bold and unique, and the color and culture are truly beautiful!!
My interest in Indian culture started when I was growing up in Albuquerque and had two different babysitters from India, but my love for Bollywood began after my cousin told me about a Bollywood movie she watched and showed me her favorite Bollywood song clip . The song Kajra Re, from the film Bunty Aur Babli, is a silly love song featuring 3 of Bollywood's most well-known actors of the time: Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, and Amitabh Bachchan.
Yá'át'ééh shik'ei dóó wóshdéé',
Shí éí Sarena Gray yinishye. Adóone'e nishłinigii éí Bilagáana nishłí, Táchii'nii bashishchiin. Bilagáana dashicheii, Honágháahnii dashinalí. Lukachukai, Arizonadee' naashá. Los Alamos Teen Centerdi naashnish. Ák'ót'éego Diné asdzáán nishłí.
Hello my relatives and welcome,
My name is Sarena Gray. I am of the White People clan, born for Red Running Into Water People clan. My maternal grandfathers are of the White People clan, and my paternal grandfathers are of the People Who Walk Around clan. I am from Lukachukai, AZ and work at the Los Alamos Teen Center. In this way, I am a Navajo woman.
In Navajo culture, introducing myself in this way is very important because it is my way of telling you all who I am and allows us to recognize kinship ties that might exist between. This is the way I want to start my blog.
In the following posts, I will be sharing with ya'll some of things I've been doing to fill my free time while the Rona is on the loose. This might include tutorial videos of things I am trying out, reviews of movies I am watching, pics of crafting projects I am working on, or one-sided conversations about things I think are important. If you have questions or have anything in particular you'd like to see me post about, let me know.
Looking forward to sharing this space with you all!!
Love, Health, and Peace to you all,
Sarena Gray (she/her)
Sarena is a Diné (Navajo) woman with a passion for good food, natural curly hair, cheesy Bollywood movies, and Indigenous and LGBTQIA2S+ issues. You will usually find her crafting, scrolling through Instagram, and watching the same movie/TV show for the 100th time.