video premiere: german folk noir songstress tokunbo invokes black victorian america with latest visual – ‘the ballad of joe & irene’

October 23, 2015

Today we’re premiering the new video from Berlin based folk singer songwriter Tokunbo. The visual is for her her new single, ‘The Ballad of Joe & Irene’, and features powerful photos of African Americans during the Victorian era. Tokunbo (of African and German descent) tells us: “Growing up as a black teen in Germany, I felt a strong lack of role models, both as a black person as well as a woman. Spending a year in the US with an African-American family as a youth consequently had a big impact on my identity, as no other experience would. It was during this time that I was introduced to the works of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker and also saw movies like ‘Waiting to Exhale’, ‘The Best Man’ and ‘Brown Sugar’. I was fascinated. Up till then I had never seen a film with an all-black cast. These impressions and images stuck with me over the years and came back to me when I began working on the concept for the video for my song ‘The Ballad Of Joe & Irene’.”

She adds, “‘The Ballad of Joe & Irene’ is a song from my album ‘Queendom Come’. It’s a tale of a love through the decades. When I wrote the song, strong visual images came to my mind; a movie was playing in my head already. The video I created for it unravels its poetic beauty through original photo portraits of black people of the Victorian era. I instantly fell in love with the regality of the photographs. Finding them was a dream come true, presenting me with the opportunity to break with clichés about black people widely spread in Europe, and to show an aspect of black culture that is not commonly associated with it here. My album’s title song ‘Queendom Come’ sums up my personal credo, which is that we each can create our own realm and be our own stronghold. The realization of the video for ‘Joe & Irene’ is another step on my quest.”

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor



(Photo credit Anne de Wolff )

(Photo credit: Ralf Synowzik)


Tokunbo’s Upcoming Tour Dates 

24.10.15 Hemmingen, Bauhof 
30.10.15 P-Castell Branco, Cultura Vibra  
31.10.15 P-Caldas de Rainha, Caldas Nice Jazz 
01.11.15 P-Lissabon, Centro Cultural de Belem  
06.11.15 Köln, Musik in den Häusern der Stadt  
07.11.15 Bonn, Musik in den Häusern der Stadt  
13.11.15 Bad Hersfeld, Buchcafé 
18.02.16 Kassel, Theaterstübchen  
23.04.16 Bremen, Jazz Ahead Club Nacht 
25.06.16 Neumünster, Altes Stahlwerk 


Song/Video Credits

‘The Ballad of Joe & Irene’ written by TOKUNBO
Produced by Matthias Meusel & Ulrich Rode
From the album ‘Queendom Come’
Video created by TOKUNBO
All photos creative commons
TOKUNBO (vocals)
Ulrich Rode (guitar)
Christian Flohr (bass)
Matthias Meusel (drums)
Anne de Wolff (accordion)
Michael Nass (piano)