November 20, 2009

Category: Grooves

Tamar-kali: Afro-Punk’s Pink Side



Tamar-kali describes her music as “Hardcore Geechee Goddess Warrior Soul.” I simply think it’s bad-ass. Featured in Afro-Punk, James Spooner’s marvelous documentary about Black folk who punk-rock and up jumped the boogie to another level via Fishbone, Betty Davis and Bad Brains, Tamar-kali quickly became a face of a movement she’d fronted locally in NYC for over 15 years in bands like Song of Seven and Funkface.

What I love so much about T is that no matter how unruly her performance may be or how unhinged her lyrics, this Brooklyn banshee never lets you forget she is a woman. That she is the pink side of Afro-Punk and is committed to all that it means to be a GRRRL. She embraces her femininity, pierces it with non-conformist buckshot, dips it in ancestral blood, kisses it with Oshun’s honey and then hurls it into the atmosphere, gyrating as she watches it sprinkle down like nuclear fallout on her audience members. Mesmerized. Seduced.

Don’t believe me? Check out the lyrics to “Boot” off of her EP 5Piece: “Her hair is short/ Her legs are brown/ Her lips are full/Her head hangs down/Her eyes ain’t blue/ Her ass is round/ She is sweet tasting fruit whose juice is bitter tears/ She is love’s worn out boot, tattered and torn you wear.” Or watch this snippet of “Ruint”and see how she begins to mangle the hell outta this ballad leaving nothing but bloodied bits of aorta on the microphone stand:

Tomorrow Tamar-kali is taking her all-female Psychochamber string ensemble uptown to Harlem to headline “Cabaret Chocolat.” Tamar says she developed this show because “artists of color have largely been missing from the revival of cabaret performance” at venues like Spiegeltent and The Box. With all the talk around Black women and body image ala Precious, Serena Williams, and Michelle Obama this show is more than right on time as an expression of the beauty and sensuality of Black women in dance and song. T seconds that emotion stating: “Regarding body image the Psychochamber Ensemble would be the platform. As an all female ensemble composed primarily of women of color it provides a representation of a range of different body types. Personally I have never felt subjectively limited. However, I feel like Michelle Obama has broken the 2-sided mammy/whore model to bits.”

In August, when I saw TK perform last she ripped the roof off of Joe’s Pub. She also just happened to be wearing this mad sexy hot pink vintage dress and I remember thinking ain’t no one in punk (and very few outside the genre), are dropping Sexy as hot, as gully and as empowering as this geechee!

Check out her show tomorrow night and see for yourself!

Event info:
Tamar-kali’s CABARET CHOCOLAT: An Autumn Night’s Soiree

Saturday, November 21, 2009 — $15

— Harlem Stage Gatehouse: 150 Convent Avenue at West 135th Street
6 pm – pre-performance dialogue with Tamar-kali, Kandia Crazy Horse & Daphne Brooks
7:30 pm  – Cocktail Mixer

8:30 pm – Performance

Just leave a comment below naming your theme song if you could headline your own bawdy, sexy Cabaret. Mine would be “Darling Nikki” of course! I’ll randomly pick a winner tomorrow morning and announce it on the site and via email. Good luck!


Photos by Fanon Che Wilkins

Photos by Fanon Che Wilkins

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One Response to “Tamar-kali: Afro-Punk’s Pink SideComment RSS feed

  • anika niambi
    November 21st, 2009 10:40 am