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Me’shell Ndegeocello, Bayard Rustin & MikeQ : 25 of music’s most underrated trailblazers across the queer spectrum


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Me’shell Ndegeocello

Genius musician Me’shell Ndegeocello is a veteran at relaying dynamic stories through song. Her work spans classical to cosmic reggae with vocal deliveries ranging from fiery emcee to tender acoustic songstress. Ndegeocello’s lyrics easily fall into a lineage of black poetry: love, pleasure, commercialism, heartbreak, revolution, time travel, space, religion, politics, sorrow, and joy. “Leviticus: Faggot,” from her early album, Peace Beyond Passion. contextualizes the harsh realities queer youth [of color] experience daily predisposing them to health outcomes such as drug addiction, homelessness, or suicide. Similarly to Prince, her musical inspiration, Ndegeocello has struggled throughout her career honoring her authenticity in an industry confused how to neatly market beautiful gender binary blurring blackness. Honoring her authentic self – while escaping categories besides being Grammy-nominated – shows the resilience of black queer women carrying the blues tradition in the music industry. Me’shell offers days worth of listening with 12 albums under her belt, her most recent, Ventriloquism, just released spring 2018. M.B.

Bayard Rustin

A key organizer of that 1963 March on Washington, Bayard Rustin’s legacy as an angelic troublemaker often shrinks into the shadows of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s stature as one of the key leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Rustin was introduced to King through Coretta Scott, who was a music education student at the time. While attending college, Bayard sung in the Wilberforce Quartet and was a staunch pacifist with Quaker roots. He taught himself to play the lute while incarcerated for conscientiously objecting to World War II’s enlistment draft. Rustin sung spirituals, a music style expressing the desire for an end to all oppressive systems, and he released Bayard Rustin Sings a Program of Spirituals and Elizabethan and Negro Spirituals with Fellowship Records in the early 1950s. Without Rustin helping organize over 200,000 people to the march, the stage would’ve never been set for King’s delivery of the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. President Barack Obama, the last U.S. leader to formally acknowledge the struggles, triumphs and contributions of the LGBTQIA community, posthumously honored Rustin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. M.B.

MikeQ

Long before words like “shade” and “wig” entered the vernacular of the mainstream, the queens of the New York City ballroom scene were strutting their stuff and competing for glory to the tune of bumping, underground house music. But above all it’s MikeQ who has helped crystallize the sound of vogue music into a recognizable sub-genre, spreading the gospel of the legendary Masters at Work “Ha Dance” sample to the furthest corners of the globe. Fiercely protective of his culture’s authenticity (and why wouldn’t he be, considering mainstream culture’s proclivity for co-opting the scene, from Madonna to Surkin to Ryan Murphy), MikeQ is now both a figurehead and gatekeeper of vogue music – respected by elitist techno heads and drag queens alike. Now, at the helm of his own record label, Qween Beat, MikeQ is the brains behind some of the edgiest, precisely crafted contemporary music blasting in clubs. E.S.

rollingstone.com

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LGBT and Audio 92.jpg

LGBT and Audio 93.jpg

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