MusicSummer of Blacker Love
spring flowers for radical musician cree summers
By Awa Gueye
June 6, 2019
I was born in 1995 to the sound of Cree Summer’s voice. Well, let me clarify. I was actually born a premature lefty who was supposed to be a twin to two Senegalese parents beginning a life in America. I was born different, so in a way I was born in the footsteps of all the Black women who are difficult to categorize. I was born into a world where the sounds of Cree Summer echoed “God Bless the Freaks.”
Though I didn’t really enter the world to her voice, Summer was the soundtrack to my childhood. She held down the fort for Black girls in cartoons voicing all of our faves. Yup, she has been the life behind characters like Rugrats and All Grown Up’s Suzie Carmichael, Cleo the Poodle in Clifford the Big Red Dog, Beast Girl in Teen Titans Go!, Numbuh 5 on Codename: Kids Next Door and the list goes on… for a while. To add to her impressive credits, most of us recognize Summer as Freddie from A Different World. Oh, the things Ms. Summer’s career has done for the culture.
These are my confessions — it is with much remorse that I admit to you how tardy I am to the entirety of the Cree Summer party. While I understood that she is a vocal treasure it wasn’t until recently that I heard her music (which by the way proves she is an all-around audio wizard). Her music is freeing, unpretentious and just plain ol’ cool, which makes her the perfect artists’ artist.
I got hip to Summer’s music on 2019’s version of word of mouth: my Instagram feed. Throughout time and unprompted, artists like Princess Nokia, Zoë Kravitz and Willow Smith have posted Street Faërie excitedly praising it. The record has not only stood the test of time but continues to grow and inspire. Summer is a musician with something to say, creating space for the so-called freaks of the world. She discusses topics back in 1999 that to this day are still not often spoken about. Her song “Naheo” is a tribute to her Native American roots, “Miss Moon” is about making love to a woman while she is menstruating, and “Curious White Boy” is a Black woman’s response to her white lover upon realizing his attraction to her started out of racial guilt. Unafraid and a creator of space, Summer’s album discusses the previously taboo.
Street Faërie was produced by Lenny Kravitz. It is guitar heavy, full of ballads, and lyrically refreshing with topics of race, romance, sex and spirituality. The record is a timeless experience because it’s honest. It continues to empower and remind Black girls to be ourselves.
Get The Latest
Signup for the AFROPUNK newsletter