community op-ed: black women rock: my top ten rock songs featuring black women

November 17, 2014

I love the passion of rock music and how it has been connected to other genres. In the past and present, black women have made awesome contributions to the genre, but don’t receive much attention. To celebrate black women in rock, here are my top ten rock songs featuring black women.

By Latonya Pennington, AFROPUNK Contributor

10. “Oh Bondage Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex- With Poly Styrene’s yelling and the feminist lyrics, this song showed that black women could rock out with unbridled passion.

9. “Burn” by The Noisettes- This is a great blues-rock song that highlights Shingai Shoniwa’s raspy, soulful vocals.

8. “R.S.V.P.” by The Objex- The energy given off by the guitars and Felony Melony’s vocals make you want to have some crazy fun and give the middle finger to those holding you back.

7. ”It Takes Blood and Guts to Be This Cool, But I’m Still Just A Cliché” by Skunk Anansie- Besides it’s awesomely long title, I love how the lyrics and Skin’s vocals mock people who embody the same old standards of cool.

6. “Truth Will Set You Free” by Mother’s Finest- Joyce Kennedy’s vocals are great and the riffs and small guitar solo makes this a classic funk-rock song.

5. Up Above My Head” (Live) by Sister Rosetta Tharpe- I love seeing how gospel influenced what would become rock n’ roll via Chuck Berry and others. Tharpe’s deep, soulful vocals and her guitar solo are amazing to watch.

4. “Black Betty” by Divinity Roxx- While this is a Lead Belly cover, she makes it her own with empowering rap lyrics, heavy guitar, and her bass solo.

3. “Siren Song” by Tamar Kali- I love how this song highlights her vocal range and the combination of the soothing orchestra and intense electric guitar.

2. “Come Alive” by Janelle Monae- While not strictly rock, the high energy in this song is infectious and Monae’s fantastic high note in this song blends well with the electric guitar.

1. Black Cat (Guitar Mix) by Janet Jackson- While I’ve loved the original since I was kid, this version is even better because it features a blistering guitar solo by Living Colour’s Vernon Reid.