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Published on Nov 10, 2007
"Soul Sisters triumphant!": From Psychedelia to Funk, 1967-1975.
The human race started from Africa. When drought hit, around 24 members of the Bushmen tribe set out into the unknown for food. The global journey of their generations seeded the entire planet over the next 50,000 years. These two dozen Africans created every one of us. We are all family, we've just forgotten it.
In the 1950's, sparked by Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights movement challenged segregation. The resulting 60's Counterculture meant to free the mind, body, and spirit from any shackles. They embraced the tribal and the communal, the future and each other. The late 60's-early 70's was a golden age of connection and exploration opening the possibilities that created the best in the world we now live in. This is a story of our shared jouney we shouldn't forget.
Here are many Soul Sisters who paved our path: LT. UHURA opened the future on "Star Trek"; the tribal Rock musical HAIR personified the re-evolution, which also gave us Melba Moore, Donna Summer, Leata Galloway, Marsha Hunt, Ben Vereen, Phillip Michael Thomas, and many more; all-inclusive music groups like BOOKER T & THE MG's, SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, ROTARY CONNECTION, JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE, The Loading Zone, Santana, and The Chambers Brothers; new world couples like Jimi Hendrix and Devon Wilson, Brian Jones and Donyale Luna; activist singers like NINA SIMONE; Native American and African clothes and hairstyles were reborn; this opened the door for MIRIAM MAKEBA and other World Musics into the mainstream; MARSHA "Brown Sugar" HUNT set the template for Betty Davis and the next decade of Funk Rock women; MILES and BETTY DAVIS stirred Funk and Psychedelia into the Fusion Jazz of "Bitches Brew"; by '69, the Fashion industry was opened by JOLIE JONES, NAOMI SIMS, DONYALE LUNA, Carole La Brie, Beverly Johnson, Jane Kennedy, and African ELIZABETH OF TORO; as Feminism dawned in the early 70's, ELAINE BROWN took command of the generally sexist Black Panther Party while ANGELA DAVIS fought The Man; modern poet/authors like NIKI GIOVANNI, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker inspired waves of new students; the new archetype of 'Soul Sister', with brains, class, style, and attitude, took its first proud strut; this modern amazon ruled the screens with actors like PAM GRIER, TAMARA DOBSON, CAROL SPEED (cutest eyes ever!), THERESA GRAVES, Vonetta McGhee, Jeane Belle, and Gloria Hendry; and in the comics with Wonder Woman's sister, NUBIA, and feiry STORM of the X-MEN.
These women created: bohemian musicians like Ruth Copeland, Funkadelic, Joyce Kennedy (Mothers Finest), Parlet and Brides Of Funkenstein, Grace Jones, Prince & the Revolution, Public Enemy, the Native Tongues rappers, Lenny Kravitz, Cree Summer, Nenah Cherry, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Dionne Farris, Skin (Skunk Anansie), Erykah Badu, The Roots, Joi, Kelis, India Arie, Joss Stone, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Nikka Costa; World musicians like Osibisa, Fela, King Sunny Ade, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mahotella Queens, Zap Mama, Cesaria Evora, Angelique Kidjo, and Antibalas; models like Naomi Campbell, Iman, Waris Dalie, and Alek Wek; activists like bell hooks, Sister Souljah, and Pam The Funkstress (The Coup); tough actors like Gina Torres (FIREFLY/ SERENITY), Halle Barry (CATWOMAN, X-MEN), and Jada Pinkett Smith (THE MATRIX); and superheroines like Vixen, Misty Knight, Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel), and Natasha Irons (Steel).
About ROTARY CONNECTION: The Chess label parlayed modern blues (Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf) and Rock'n'roll (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley) in the 50's. Young heir Marshall Chess stirred them into the psychedelic 60's with the RC. It combined a rock group with soul singers, all arranged by the radical Charles Stepney with jazz changes, operatic chorales, electronic dissonance, and sweeping strings. It also introduced Minnie Riperton, who went on to glory with "Loving You" later. Though Minnie has sadly passed, her daughter Maya Rudolph is a shining star on "Saturday Night Live". Stepney went on to arrange the great hits of Earth Wind & Fire. And Nuyorican Soul made "Black Gold" a modern standard with their 1997 remix hit.