Monday, October 13, 2008

Can A Sista Rock a Mic Festival Rocks DC!

Okay, I am will the first one to say it, I need to lose about fifty pounds in order to get back into shape that works best for my frame and level of activity. I like to jump. I like to skip. Yes, my over-thirty big butt self likes to skip! On Friday, Oct. 10 in a warm-up exercise before my performance with the Saartjie Project ( which was part of the Can A Sista Rock a Mic festivities, I did just that-- I bended, twisted, jumped and skipped! I felt like a kid again and was pumped. We had a FANTASTIC show!!!!

Alas, the next morning, yesterday, I awoke to this searing pain in my left leg. I had stretched myself silly apparantly and pulled a muscle big time. I literally screamed in pain as my partner tried to assess where the pain was coming from. Two ice packs later and a peppermint lotion rubdown on my leg, I was able enough to limp around...well enough to head to the concert finale I had been waiting for all week. I was on my way to the Can a Sista Rock a Mic (CASRAM) festival finale in downtown Silver Spring!

When we arrived, the group Nola Darling was performing. If you're not familiar with the basis of the name, then I'll share...Nola Darling was the lead character in Spike Lee's first breakthrough hit "She's Gotta Have It". Nola was a sexually liberated young woman whose identity directed the course of the movie which was about Nola and her interactions with her three male lovers.
The group Nola Darling is comprised of two Harlem natives, Nikkobya and Aziza, who rocked the stage with a refreshing wackiness and fun reminiscent of Kid n Play but with skills in rap and song on a Lauryn Hill-esque caliber...dressed down in simple sweaters, leggins and denim, they also evoked a certain every-woman element that was truly great to see (I love seeing women perform who don't cater to the "eye candy" requirement that some believe is necessary to embody before going on stage to perform).

Teisha Marie followed Nola Darling and was enjoyed as she reminded me a little of DC native Afi Soul who didn't perform in the festival this year as she has for the past three CASRAMs.

Following her was teen wonder Emoni Fela. We were about to go inside to eat but I was drawn to catch a glimpse of this DC native who I had been trying to get an interview with since 2006. This girl has traveled the country performing, gifted with a insane lyrical ability and a stage presence that is a mix of manic and mayhem. In her fierceness and uniqueness, its like she gives her young peers permission to be themselves. She is star already.

Deborah Bond was onstage when we finished our Thai dinner and re-joined the audience for the show. What can I say? This native of the DC metro area is classy, regal and one of the best voices I've heard. I had never seen her before but the buzz about her had been strong for some time. She asked the crowd how much they loved soul music. "I love it, " she said. "Gives you all kinds of goosebumps." That's what her voice did for me.

Emily King was next. She favors Wendy from Prince's band The Revolution and she is equally as skilled on the guitar. Her whispery voice evoked the spirits of Carole King and Joplin with a sprinkle of Minnie. She engaged the crowd with her rendition of "Aint No Sunshine" and a song she wrote about growing up as a child of interracial love. Though she is not a belter, she has a certain sweetness that makes you inevitably smile satisfied. My business buddy Maceo stood in a twenty minute line to cop her CD.

The headliner for the night, Angela Johnson was on fire. This singer/musician/producer is immensely talented and has a voice of pure platinum. What was so inspiring about her was how she brought with her two singers who are featured on her new album A Woman's Touch and allowed them to sing lead songs. If that's not a sista having a sista's back, I don't know what is. The song "Walkin" produced by Johnson but sung by Lisala who was present this night, is one of my favorites (I bought the CD last month at the International Soul Music Summit and play it at least once a week).

My family and I left before the show was over so I could limp comfortably back to the car without going through crowds. But, the concert was well enjoyed. CASRAM rocked this year, and I imagine that it will only be bigger and badder next year. Girls Rock!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kudos to Kimani Anku & solSource, creator of the festival for another job well done!
(You can find this blog post and other arts events updates on

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