Detroiter jessica Care moore has been proving that Black Women Rock for over 10 years, and she’s not done yet. In March, moore produced her 12th sold-out installment of Black Women Rock!, a tribute to Betty “Nasty Gal” Davis, an American funk queen who rose to fame during the late ’60s, early ’70s, and who was also briefly married to legendary jazz musician Miles Davis.
Not to be confused with BET’s Black Girls Rock!, Black Women Rock! is a movement spearheaded by moore in 2004 during the National Black Arts Festival. “It’s about showcasing the music and stories of Black women who build institutions around their craft,” said moore. “It’s about paying homage to those who came before us to empower women who play bass, guitar, cello, drums, sing or write poetry on their own terms.”
The event is extraordinary as it features a wide variety of Black female artists from around the country who convene in Detroit for one night to rock out, in their own Black woman style. This year the lineup was super dope, as Nik West (famous bass guitarist and vocalist), Divinity Roxx (Beyoncé’s former bass guitarist), Mama Sol (spoken word artist), Kimberly Nichole (former contestant on “The Voice”) and newcomer K. Valentine (Chicago-born hip-hop lyricist), and several others shared the same stage. Also on stage were artists creating live paintings during the performances. Sabrina Nelson, a Detroit-based artist, curated a visual art exhibition as part of BWR!’s opening reception and was also one of the live artists giving life to her creations on stage.
Rolling out talked exclusively with moore after the concert about her experience with BWR! and how it felt to be experiencing her 12th anniversary. She gave us some insight on why she chose Betty Davis as her inspiration and told us what Davis thinks about the concert. Check out the details below. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
You just wrapped your 12th annual Black Women Rock! concert. How does that make you feel?
I’m overwhelmed, I’m humbled, I’m excited. This one was a really beautiful show and I’ve really been wanting Nik West and Divinity Roxx on the same stage. They had not ever done that before, ever. To have Tracy Wormworth, Divinity Roxx and Nik West on stage at the same time was pretty killer. Kimberly Nichole’s voice is just off the Richter, it’s off the charts. Everybody just came with their “A-game” tonight. I always feel so exhausted even when I’m in it. It’s a real surreal out-of-body experience for me. Just trying to stay in it and be supportive and good for the artists that I’m bringing on and say the right thing, but it’s never scripted. We just go by energy, you know. I always do my thing. It’s cool and I have a good time.
Tell us about your son being in the show. How did that come about?
King. His book just came out a few weeks ago, “A Peace of a Poem” [see photos of King in the picture gallery below]. So, I just asked him [if] he wanted to read a poem, because he’s been at every Black Women Rock!, the only one he missed was the one that happened when he wasn’t born yet. He was born a few years later and I’ve just been encouraging him to get his work out there because he’s really a strong poet at 9 years old. So, I’m proud of him.
What’s next for Black Women Rock?
This is a labor of love. I’m so honored these women come. It’s a big undertaking we are not done yet. Tomorrow, we have the artists’ talk from 12:00 to 3:00. So, we are not done yet. We’re working on a college tour, it’s coming. It’s just been waiting for corporate sponsors. I have a couple of promoters that are interested in spot days, but we’re looking to get on a bus and drive around for a couple of months. Sponsorship is difficult, it’s not easy. People think it’s easy. It’s easy when you’re corporate. But we are independent and grass roots and we are about something, so that has to be interesting to a corporate entity. It has to actually be about something. So, we’re going to set up the tour ourselves. We’re are going to find a way to make the tour happen and I think it will. But we have dates, we have L.A. set up and Pittsburgh is coming up. Pittsburgh is where Betty Davis lives.
Speaking of Betty Davis, what does she think about the show?
She sent a beautiful note saying “thank you for keeping my music alive,” and she sent that in 2015 after the Apollo Theater. So, you know, she loves it. I’m really happy that she knows that we are honoring her in a respectful way and just wanted her to know we are doing it. I’ve been trying to get her to hear it since 2004. She knew we were doing it in 2004 though. Her people reached out to me in Atlanta at the National Black Arts Festival and said tell jessica Care moore that Betty Davis is alive. And I said tell her, “I know! I just want her to get on the plane.” But she doesn’t come out, she’s a recluse and so for all her right reasons I’m sure. Her story in Nasty Gal is being told in documentary film so somebody has gotten her to talk and that film is in the making. I’m excited to see that. I was hoping to see a featured film and I would like to be a part of something like that. She’s like many women who are overlooked in the industry that are trailblazers who made it. If not for her, we would not be here. So, we should celebrate her while she is alive and give her flowers while she’s here.
Photo gallery credit: Porsha Monique for Steed Media Service