Queensfest is Baduism come to life, a sonic symposium on black life, femininity and spirituality. The day-long panels n’ performances event, presented by the Will and Jada Smith-endorsed Queens of the New Age, popped off at the California African American Museum, a powerful symbol of black power and a kick ass museum to boot.
Seattle-based soul stirrer Sassyblack was on stage when I pulled up, her usual array of funk-imbued electronics pairing perfectly with her sand-through-the-hourglass vocal. She takes her time, grooves, makes the audience lean in. It’s magic.
Nyallah, who is sadly leaving us for NY, delivered a stirring, too-short performance of roughneck bangers. You could feel the energy rise even in the sweltering early afternoon heat.
Inside the museum, Paress Salinas moderated a talk called They Must See Us, a candid chat with some music industry power houses: Tina Farris, Nai Vasha Thomas, Emoni Matthews and Lindsay Lanier. They spoke candidly about being the only woman in the room at industry functions, and talked about ways we can better move forward with representation and inclusiveness.
The heat was dying down as Asmara took the stage, but she whipped us into a hot frenzy, playing sophisticated trunk rattling selections. At one point it looked like a riot might break out.
Aluna George was rousing as hell during the Got Beats: Women in Sound Panel.
“Stay wanting what you want. And when things get tough, want it even more,” she said.
Iconic duo Novawav were equally resolute, telling us all to “stay fearless.”
International musician and speaker Madame Gandhi played an inspiring and interactive set, bringing kids on stage to play percussion, speaking at length about the power of the people gathered there, and generally putting on a brilliant, powerful kaleidoscopic set.
“It’s so important that we have parties of our own,” she said, echoing a sentiment I heard a bunch that day.
Local community builder and designer Imani Quinn ran intuitive healing talks next to an illuminated, IG-friendly queen stantion. She also closed out the indoor panels, a busy day from one of LA’s biggest movers and shakers.