sunny.png
Friday March 5th, 2021 12:14PM

Our Native Daughters bring Black women's voices to forefront

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Playing a banjo as a Black female artist is a form of activism for the four members of Our Native Daughters.

Their story, appearing in a new documentary called “Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters” airing Monday on the Smithsonian Channel, is both personal and ancestral, connecting the stories of Black enslaved women to their own experiences dealing with constructs of genre, race and class.

Documented on video, Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah wrote together in 2018 in a tiny Louisiana studio and recorded the music in just 12 days. All of them play the banjo and have worked primarily in acoustical, roots music.

“We wouldn’t be here doing this, having this talk if it wasn’t for the strength and the resilience and tremendous wealth of that lineage that’s carried forward in us,” said Russell. “It was a healing experience to make this music together.”

Giddens has won a Grammy Award and a McArthur Fellowship for her exploration of Black musical history that has largely been whitewashed. But all of them have experienced dismissals of their interest in acoustic and folk music.

“Why, if you pick up a banjo, does someone assume it’s a white Appalachian thing? Why does someone assume if you’re Black, you must be doing urban music, whatever that means?” said Russell. “I am an urban Black country woman playing the banjo.”

“There is stigma, and there’s a lot of pain and there’s a lot of reasons why that is,” said McCalla.

“Songs of Our Native Daughters” which came out on the Smithsonian Folkways record label in 2019, focused on the stories of women during the transatlantic slave trade, but also the triumphs of Black women. One song focuses on Polly Ann, the wife of the steel driving folk hero John Henry, while “Quasheba, Quasheba” is about Russell's African ancestor who was bought as a slave.

“People are ready to sit with this history and I think doing it with music, it’s like the best way to disarm a person,” said Kiah.

Kiah earned a Grammy nomination for her song “Black Myself” from this record, which she has re-recorded into a new version released on Friday. The song addresses the intra-racial discrimination that focuses on the darkness of a person’s skin, inspired by experiences she had seen in her own life as well as historical accounts.

“There’s this idea of the lighter that you can get, the more you’ll be respected by the white supremacist society that they were living in, that we are still living in,” said Kiah.

The documentary shows them on tour playing to largely white audiences, an issue that has prompted a lot internal discussions among the group. They aren’t responsible for how their music is marketed in a commercial music industry, but what does it mean if they aren’t reaching some Black audiences?

“We each have had frustrations with the way that American music is segregated,” said Giddens. “What we’re trying to do is dismantle the thing that is keeping the Black audiences from the show.”

Throughout the documentary, the artists explain the history of Black music and instruments that created the roots of so many different styles of modern American music. As Russell explains it, the music is global, mixing and traveling across continents through the African diaspora.

“As much as we need to face the pain of the past, we also have to bring forward the joy and the innovation. And I think that’s what we tried to do on this record,” said Russell.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fat Boys member, radio host Prince Markie Dee dies at 52
A member of the Fat Boys hip-hop trio who later formed his own band and became a well-known radio host, Prince Markie Dee has died at 52
12:14PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Our Native Daughters bring Black women's voices to forefront
A new documentary on the band Our Native Daughters tells the stories of Black enslaved women
12:13PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Belarus journalist on trial over report on protester's death
A court in Belarus has opened the trial of a journalist accused of revealing personal data in her report about the death of a protester
12:08PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
EXPLAINER: Why Spaniards are rioting over rapper's jailing
Riots broke out in many Spanish cities this week during freedom of speech protests over the jailing of a little-known rapper for insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorism
10:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
For Kelly Rowland, good things come in threes
Kelly Rowland is already having a busy 2021: The Grammy winner gave birth to her second child, celebrated her 40th birthday and has now dropped a new EP
8:58AM ( 3 hours ago )
It's final: Harry and Meghan won't return as working royals
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles
8:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Spain: Dozens arrested in fresh riots over rapper's jailing
Spanish police have arrested more than 50 people and dozens more were injured during a second night of street protests sparked by the imprisonment of a rap artist
11:14AM ( 1 day ago )
Luke Combs apologizes for Confederate flag imagery
Country star Luke Combs has apologized for appearing with Confederate flags in the past, saying he is now aware of how painful it is
7:54PM ( 1 day ago )
Demi Lovato reveals she has brain damage from 2018 overdose
Demi Lovato says her drug overdose in 2018 resulted in three strokes and a heart attack, leaving her with physical limitations that still affect her
5:25PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Fat Boys member, radio host Prince Markie Dee dies at 52
A member of the Fat Boys hip-hop trio who later formed his own band and became a well-known radio host, Prince Markie Dee has died at 52
12:14PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Belarus journalist on trial over report on protester's death
A court in Belarus has opened the trial of a journalist accused of revealing personal data in her report about the death of a protester
12:08PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Texas grid operators say electrical system back to normal
Texas’ grid operators say the electrical system has returned to normal for the first time since a winter storm knocked out power to more than 4 million customers
12:02PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Toomey, who once unified the GOP, now on the outs over Trump
Before he became the object of fury of Republicans for voting to convict Donald Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was once the insurgent from the right
11:49AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Britain's Prince Philip to stay in hospital through weekend
Britain’s Prince Philip is expected to remain in a London hospital for several more days after being admitted earlier this week in what Buckingham Palace described as “a precautionary measure.”
11:46AM ( 33 minutes ago )