Black Girls Rock and Bondvision Media rocked Washington, D.C., on April 5 with their presentation of ROCK! Like A Girl. Held at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the show featured nationally and internationally renowned performing artists and emcees, including Jean Grae, Ana Tijoux, Rapsody, Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, and DJ Beverly Bond; and a special guest appearance by Lauryn Hill. D.C.’s own all-girl go-go group, Be’la Dona, served as house band for the evening.
Founder, mentor and cultural curator Beverly Bond humbly deejayed her own event and moved everyone from the floor to the balcony tiers with blends of hip-hop sprinkled with soul classics.
“It’s actually a new platform but it is an extension in a way [of Black Girls Rock],” Bond explained to rolling out. “It’s a program that focuses more on women in the arts from various genres. They asked me to curate a program for the One Mic Hip-Hop Festival and feature global women who have an impact on hip-hop and I [said] ‘Absolutely! I will do this!’ ”
This inaugural event is a part of the two-week festival “One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide” that celebrates masters in the field and spotlights international artists who move crowds both culturally and socially.
Paired in celebration of women in hip-hop, a group of Black Girls Rock mentees hailing from South Africa to Jersey City opened with a powerful spoken word and musical performance that metaphorically paid homage to the critical role women play in the continuation of life; as well as the struggles endured by survivors of rape, abuse and incest and the triumphs of our ancestors.
Hip-hop star MC Lyte encouraged young artists to discover who they are and what matters to them — beyond just their art. “Find your mission. Have a bigger purpose than just music. Mine was always [to] inspire other people,” shared Lyte.
“A lot of people told me that I should be doing it differently and I believed in my vision and what I wanted to do,” said violinist Ben-Ari in recalling her refusal to be dissuaded from her vision. “This was a real Rock Like A Girl [moment] for me.”
With a wide-ranging focus that included hip-hop, feminism and sociopolitical empowerment, Rock Like a Girl showcased new and seasoned talent for an audience that was equally diverse. –eeshe white