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Funk can be described in many ways: Some call it “black rock,” describing a genre which allowed black artists to experiment with rock n’ roll without upsetting the racialized categories of the music industry. Some describe funk as a way of life, a philosophy where sonic rawness allows for performers to freely express the aggression and liberation of chronicling their hard, fast and complicated lives. Funk songstresses like Chaka Khan and Grace Jones are household names, while others, such as Betty Davis and Gwen McRae, should have been more commercially successful than they were. Early pioneers like Candi Staton, Esther Phillips, and Jean Knight might be unwittingly considered as funk performers, but the backup band provides a fitting narrative to their tales.
Free of the respectability politics that often proved burdensome for women artists, the ability to sing often provocative lyrics that matched the energetic and electric instrumentation offered a narrative about womanhood that belied the shiny veneer of their era’s pop music. Funk can be served hot and raw, or it can be offered as a delicious side to soul, but the signifiers of prominent electric guitars and rock ’n roll aggression are always high in the mix.
“New World Order” - The Family Stand
“Bang it Back” - Saidah Baba Talibah
“Humpin’ to Please Him” - Jean Knight
“Too Hurt to Cry” - Candi Staton
“Livin’ In, Lovin’ Out” - Ann Peebles
“Black B_tch Crazy” - Millie Jackson
“All This Love That I’m Givin” - Gwen McRae
“Chain” - Mothers Finest
“Pull Up To The Bumper” - Grace Jones
“If I’m In Luck, I Might Get Picked Up” - Betty Davis
“Tell Me Something Good” - Rufus
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