In celebration of Black History Month, KEXP’s Alina Santillan interviewed numerous local and national African American artists about what Black History Month and Black Future mean to them. Local producer and songwriter SassyBlack talks about Quincy Jones, debunking the myth that there's a lack of women producers, and how vast blackness really is.
KEXP: What does black history and/or black future mean to you?
SassyBlack: It means everything to me because it is me and it will always be me and it's the ancestors' shoulders that I stand on. And it is the ways that have been crafted for me, the paths that have been crafted and opened up for me, and the paths that I open up for others – hopefully. And it means so much. It's deep and it's vast and it's wide and it grows and it encompasses more than anyone will ever know. Yes, that is a song that I'm working on. No, it's not [laughs]. But it works like that. There's so much more to come from blackness and so much that we as a society do not give credit to folks black folks and blackness. It is in every root of everything. Again, blackness is vast. It's not just American culture. It goes beyond and I think that's why black is beautiful, because it encompasses so much. It does so much and it has ability to do so much healing and provide so much knowledge. So that's why blackness is everything to me.
Has there been an artist that has been really influential to you in your life as a person, as a musician?
I would say Quincy Jones has been a huge influence on me. I mean even coming to Seattle and finding out later in life that he lived here is special because I did not know anything about Seattle except that there is a movie with Meg Ryan and I thought that was a made up place, swear to god, when I was a kid. I was like, "Oh Seattle was that made up fantasy world. It rains all time they got water nearby. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks hanging out." I love that movie, but it didn't make sense to me. So Quincy Jones, I'd say Michael Jackson, obviously. I have two Michael Jackson tattoos. I'd also say Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. I'm gonna say two more, I swear. This is so difficult. Missy Elliott because... freaking Missy Elliott. Super underestimated and I say underrated but, you know, like everybody listens to Missy so it's so silly that she is so underrated.
And I got to throw in some women producers so I might go on just a little bit longer and artists like say Queen Latifa. I like to say George Jamul Joe, ill producer worked with Erykah Badu. Especially when we're in this silly time where people are talking about "where are women producers?" It's like... everywhere, all the time. So silly. so "Where are women engineers?" So silly. Look to your left and your right and close your eyes and listen to some music. We're everywhere. Gwen Bunn, Musina. These are people who have toured with people who've made chart topping records and stuff like that. That work with legends and things like that. Sheila E. How we gonna front? It's just because people want to ignore these things. And so those are artists who really inspire me and I hope I answered your question.
For more and a litany of amazing interviews featuring the incredible African-American musical artists that have shaped our lives, click here for all our Black History Month coverage.
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