Listen to the Worldwide Women playlist
In 1910, when members of the Socialist International met in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin, a German feminist activist, proposed to dedicate a day to the mobilization of women around the world. The objective was to claim the right to vote, but also to eradicate sexist discrimination in the workplace. March 8 is now recognized by the United Nations and has, in recent years, led to numerous strikes and demonstrations, some of them large-scale, as in Argentina, Spain, Poland and Turkey.
Another year and the fight continues around the world to collectively make the world a more equitable place for women. We have decided to put together a soundtrack to this struggle highlighting the many incredible and inspiring female voices from across African and the diaspora. These artists come from all walks of life and worldview and celebrate the luminous multiplicity of the feminine. Some choose to speak on women’s issues directly, like Rokia Koné in her sinlge “Kurunba” that speaks to the plight of women after their children have left the home saying, “Kurunba tells the story of a special woman who was freed from her isolation and on her daughter’s wedding day, when she sang this song the people who had tried to lock her up turned into dogs and flies. It’s like a kind of curse.” Others choose to celebrate life itself, like FKA Twigs describing her most recent album CAPRISONGS; “a cherry lolly, apple juice when ur thirsty, friends in the park, your favourite person, that one sentence somebody said to you that changed everything“. There’s more than enough talent and diversity to get lost in so we’ve tried to gather the women who have highly anticipated releases in the pipeline or those who have recently released projects that have touched and inspired us.
For those that marked 2021, there’s British rapper, Little Simz, born Simbi Ajikawo, who released her album Sometimes I Might Be An Introvert to great critical acclaim, including her feminine anthem “Woman”. We also think of the astonishing rise of Nigerian pop star Ayra Starr who took it upon herself to carry the torch for Gen-Z with her album 19 & Dangerous. We spoke to Ayra about the project who had this to say, “The album is like a statement also. I’m not here to be anyone else. You can’t tell me what to do, you can’t tell me how to be. Just the way it is when we talk about feminism and all that, so that’s definitely one of the points.” Then there’s South African Kamo Mphela who had a string of major hits that shook her home country like “Amanikiniki” or “SBWL” leading up to her Nkulunkulu. In an interview with PAM the amapiano queen explained how she sees herself as an entertainer above everything, “I think I’m an entertainer. I don’t want to use a lot of tags defining who I am. I just want to do everything that’s around me,” reminding us that artists don’t need to be militant, and there’s plenty of space for fun as we continue the struggle.
Then there’s the artists that have us looking forward to 2022. Whether there are album announcements, anticipated debuts, or a growing hype, there are plenty of women to keep an eye on. The Franco-Cuban duo, and twin sisters, Ibeyi are set to release their album Spell31, teasing a single with Pa Salieu on “Made of Gold”. The Malian diva Oumou Sangaré is also preparing to bless us with another project “Sarama” this April. Oumou, a feminist champion and musical icon explains, “I put my life into this record – this life in which I knew hunger, the humiliation of poverty and fear, and from which I now draw glory.” There’s also much talk of a first LP from the raggamuffin revivalist Koffee who has breathed new life into the reggae scene. Koffee‘s 2019 Rapture EP sent shockwaves through Jamaica and abroad, and now a few singles have teased the idea of the artist’s upcoming debut which we’ll be waiting for anxiously. Will there be news from Portugese Pongo who released “Doudou” today, or maybe the “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY” Ghanaian alté star Amaarae will have something in store, and fingers crossed for more from Nigerian hip-hop and r&b artist Lady Donli.
Finally, there is no shortage of up-and-comers that we hope will get a bigger piece of the spotlight in 2022. Eesah Yasuke is one to watch closely (more from PAM soon) and in the meantime go listen to her debut Cadavre Exquis for an inspiring tour of what French rap could be. Asna from the Ivory Coast and part of La Sunday collective has also turned heads with her latest single “Abissa” and said to PAM in a recent interview, “I always say as an African woman, in truth, we are swimming in music. I have always been immersed in music.” UK rapper Alewya is another artist ready to blow. Her Panther in Mode EP where she channels the silence before the attack of the panthers and leopards, telling PAM, “I am on the lookout, but I haven’t jumped on my prey yet.“
There are more examples than we can count of women pushing the conversation forward, giving us music to get lost in, and giving representation to a generation of girls who can see themselves on the main stage. Today is a day to remind ourselves that, though we still have a long way to go, there are women out there doing the work everyday.
Listen to our Worldwide Women playlist on Spotify and Deezer.