06.09.2009

Independent Black Women in Music

"All the women, independent, throw your hands up at me”… music from a woman who exemplifies the image of the independent black woman in music.  Although Beyonce is an extremely successful independent artist, she does not stand alone.  Today, many women of color are taking control of their music careers and signing the checks.  This may seem to be unheard of, however, it is not a new concept. I, myself, like many other black women running their own music businesses have been treading these waters for years.

My first real look at independent women in the music industry was in the hip hop genre.  Women such as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot and a number of others, were the first women that I’d heard of, who were controlling their careers from the on set.  Missy runs her own record label and Queen Latifah controls a dynasty.  I thought wow, “that’s where I wanna be.  I would love to run my own label and control my own music and write and produce for other artists.” And so it began.

On my quest for success I encountered many discriminations and stereotypes that women are still faced with in the music industry today.  I learn many painful and expensive lessons, and I haven’t always been taken seriously, however, I continued on my journey, as I was determined to succeed and I knew that my desires were reasonable and very much possible.  I saw it all the time with male rap artists so I knew it could happen for me.

My decision to be independent came early on in my career.  Initially I had the same dream that so many others still have today, that some big major label will fly in from L.A. and discover me and sign me to a multimillion dollar recording contract.  I am not opposed to this idea, but I am realistic and I learned at a young age that the probability of that happening is rare.  I surrounded myself with people who were doing what I wanted to do, mostly male hip-hop and rap artists, some of who are very successful.  I studied their habits, learned the business and fell in love with the idea.  I have had many mentors along the way, and I am proud to say that I have found my place in the world of music as a strong, independent black woman, without compromise. 

There is a huge support system for independent music as a whole.  The independent female musician is largely claiming the ranks.  As a black woman is this male dominated industry, it is extremely important to continue on my journey and encourage others to follow suit.  In Sacramento, the music community is growing at a rapid pace, and on any given Thursday, you can go down to the “Home Grown Soul Show” and experience independent music at its best, and a good number of the artists are women, that write, produce, record and control their own music.  I know we still have a long way to go to equality, but we are well on our way and we are serious about our business.

Submitted by Contributing Writer, Carla Fleming

Visit www.carlafleming.com