First Row: Toni Young (photo by Jim Saah), Santi White (photo by Jonathan Wood), Fefe Dobson (photo by Bill King) 2nd Row: Libby Hodges, Yvonne Ducksworth (photo by Denis Barthel)
Toni Young: Toni Young was the bassist for 80s hardcore punk band Red C. The band was part of the 80s Washington DC punk scene, and was featured on the pivotal hardcore compilation Flex Your Head. Tragedy befell the bend in 1985, when Toni died of complications from pneumonia. Suggested Song: Assassin
Santi White: Before Santi White burst onto the indie scene as Santigold, she was in a punk band based out of Pennsylvania called Stiffed. Formed in the early 2000s, the band released two albums – Sex Sells (2003), and Burned Again (2005). Santi also had ties to another black woman rocker Res, helping to co-write and co-produce Res’ debut album How I Do. Santi started her solo career as Santigold in 2007, with the release of her solo debut Santogold. She still releases music as Santigold, with her latest album 99¢ having been released in 2015. More Information: Wikipedia. Suggested Song: What You Gone Do
Fefe Dobson: Fefe Dobson entered the music scene as an 18 year old in 2003, riding the pop punk wave that was in fashion at the time. Her early sound was comparable to other acts out during this period, such as Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne. She’s had a stable career since, having released her last album Joy in 2010. Originally destined by Jive recording executives to be a pop artist, Fefe wanted to take her music in a different direction and left the label as a result. This led to Fefe releasing her debut self-titled album on Island Records instead. More Information: Wikipedia. Suggested Song: Take Me Away
Libby Hodges: Libby Hodges formed the punk band Girl Trash in 1983. The band was all women, and featured Libby as lead singer along with her sister Doni on Guitar, and Julie and Robin Kerry on keyboards and guitar respectively. Libby was influenced by punk bands such as Dead Kennedys, Plasmatics, and black punk band Pure Hell. The band tragically and abruptly ended after the Kerry sisters were attacked and murdered. More Information: Livejournal post, slashmeup post Instagram: vampirelibby
Yvonne Ducksworth: Yvonne is the lead singer for punk/metal German band Jingo De Lunch. The band was formed in 1987, and released several albums in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in addition to live albums in the late 200s. Jingo De Lunch broke up in 2012. Yvonne was also a singer for other punk bands in the early 1980s, including Combat Not Conform and Manson Youth. She is also an actress and TV presenter, appearing on the 1994 show Metalla (which focused on the hardcore and metal scenes) on the German TV channel VIVA. More Information: on Jingo De Lunch – on Yvonne Ducksworth. Suggested Song: Seen and Done
Black women have always been at the forefront of any type of resistance, so it should come as no surprise that there are a number of punk bands (both past and present) who have featured black women in their ranks. As with black women in metal, black women in punk hold down group roles as singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, and more.
Britain is the birthplace of the music genre now known as punk. As such, I wanted to first focus on a few British ladies who rock punk music, including quite a few who are (or were) foremothers in the field.
Pauline Black (The Selecter, top left): Pauline Black (born Belinda Magnus on October 23, 1953 in Romford, London, England) is the founding member of ska band The Selecter. The band was brought to fruition in 1979, a few years after the peak of the initial punk wave. Along with other ska bands such as the Specials and Madness, Black’s The Selecter have been credited with creating the ska revival movement. Black has also appeared on TV as an actress, and wrote her own autobiography entitled Black By Design, which was released in 2011. Suggested Song: On My Radio. Website: http://theselecter.net/. More information: Pauline Black (Wikipedia)
Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex, top middle): Poly Styrene (born Marianne Joan Elliot-Said on July 3, 1957 in Bromley, Kent, England) was the lead singer of the short-lived but highly influential punk band known as X-Ray Spex. Poly got the idea to form the band after seeing the Sex Pistols at a Hastings Pier performance on her birthday in 1976. The band launched their debut single in 1977, but dissolved in 1978 after Poly began having hallucinations. She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Poly released her own solo project in 1980, and continued to put out music and perform until her death from breast cancer on April 25, 2011. Suggested Song: Oh Bondage Up Yours! More information: Poly Styrene (Wikipedia)
Rhoda Dakar (The Bodysnatchers, top right): Rhoda Dakar was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1959. She is best known as the lead singer for the band The Bodysnatchers. The band released their first single in 1979, a double A-side with “Let’s Do Rocksteady” on one side and “Ruder Than You” on the other. The band toured with The Selecter, and collaborated with many other ska bands such as The Specials. Rhoda continues to perform and put out music, with her last album having been released in August 2015 (Rhoda Dakar Sings The Bodysnatchers). Suggested Song: Let’s Do Rocksteady Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhodadakarofficial More information: Rhoda Dakar (Wikipedia)
Kalia Whyte (Youth Man, bottom left): Kalia Whyte is the explosive front woman and guitarist of Birmingham, London based punk band Youth Man. Highly recommended for fans of hardcore punk that makes you want to mosh and scream, and one of my personal favorite bands. Check them out on Bandcamp or on Facebook. Suggested song: Pigs Photo credit: andyhphoto
Beverley Ishmael (The Tuts, bottom right): And last, but certainly not least, there’s punk pop powerhouse The Tuts, featuring Beverley Ishmael on drums. Another one of my personal favorite bands, who I love for their empowering lyrics. Listening to this band will make you want to get out there and emphatically smash the patriarchy, whether you’re male, female, or anything in between. You can find them on Bandcamp and on Facebook, among many other social media outlets. Suggested song: 1982
This is the first part of a dedicated series exploring black women who make punk music. Am I missing anyone here? Let me know in the comments. And stay tuned!