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 means to them. One of those artists was soulful Seattle singer/songwriter Tiffany Wilson. As we shared last week in our local music column Throwaway Style, Wilson has just released a music video for the track "Me & You", a highlight off her 2016 album #SEESHARP. As Wilson explains herself, the video "illustrates the continued presence of hate that spans hundreds of years in our country that so many thought was a thing of the past." Watch the powerful clip, as well as her 2016 Audioasis in-studio session, after you read her words:
KEXP: What does Black History Month mean to you?
Wilson: As a woman of color, I am black history. That is what I see everyday. I think it's really important for those who are not people of color sometimes to maybe... it'd be nice if it wasn't just for the 28 days of February, but if we allowed that one month to really dig in and take that moment to submerge yourself in the history and the culture of people of color -- and not just black people, that really doesn't encompass Hispanics and natives and Asians. And as far as I'm concerned, it incorporates all people of color, but we look at it, of course, as all black folks. But I think that everyone comes from them. So figure out how they all tie together and do some research.
Who do you consider an influential black artist?
A year ago I released a record called #SeeSharp. And it just so happens, because of the nature of what I'd been writing, people began to say things like, "Oh, no, don't Nina Simone yourself" and things like that. And I actually saw -- although I was very familiar with her, I had to do my own research just to see why they would say that. And I really dove into her story. And I actually found that, wow, I really do identify mostly with her. It was a big step and I really do identify with her message that as artists we should write music that tells a story about the times we're living in basically, and that's what I was doing. And so then they were like, "Well, now you wrote all about the civil rights -- what about when it's over? Will your music be relevant?" And what's really awesome about Nina Simone is, it never stopped being relevant. She never stopped being relevant. But what's really sad about it is that, it's still relevant. Amazing as it is...we haven't moved anywhere.
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.
Local poet and Seattle Central University student discusses the universality of music, celebrating black identity, and importance of taking time to heal during Black History Month.
Lalin St. Juste discusses embracing afro-futurism, finding inspiration from Maya Angelou, and finding her own voice through music.
Street Sounds Host, Rapper, Producer, and DJ Stas THEE Boss reflects on Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, and using music to tell stories for Black History Month