Salome: Peace Star [ digital collage art by SATE ]
Wow, this year has been a fucking helluva year. I know for everyone. We all had big dreams of doing all the things that happen in a non-pandemic life. I mean, I don’t really want to get into what I was supposed to be doing, cause it didn’t happen. But like so many of us, we got things done and some of us even learned new skills; started, ended or rekindled relationships, and whatever else you did during this last year.
This year, has knocked me out in a way that I’ve always anticipated. August 8th, 2020, my mother transitioned.
Allow me to take a moment to briefly tell you who my mother was:
Born October 10, 1933, she was the sixth of nine kids from Newark, New Jersey, raised as a Moorish Science Temple Muslim before the wave of Nation of Islam swept America. She won Amateur Night at the Apollo when she was 14 years old, but my grandfather wanted her to become a lawyer, and she studied for 3 years to become a lawyer but felt that she could be more help to the world through music. In 1955, her and her sister formed a duo – The Bey Sisters – and recorded a few singles on Decca Records. Some time after that, they added my uncle Andy to the group and became, Andy Bey & The Bey Sisters. They toured the US, even had a residency in the lounge of The Cotton Club in Miami. Eventually, they made their way to Europe, where they toured France, Germany, London, Italy, Spain for 16 months (they were booked for 8 weeks or something) and signed their first European record deal as a group with Fontana. In Europe, they met George Wein (creator of the Newport Jazz Festival) and he became their manager. They came home and signed their first US record deal with RCA Victor. Their first full length album was produced by Chet Atkins (Nashville singer/songwriter and producer for Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, etc).
Now, Canada calls her their First Lady of Jazz & Blues, but she was far deeper and wider than that. Her first trip to Toronto with her siblings in 1960, changed the course of her life when she met my dad at his after hours club. Moving to Toronto and marrying my dad in 1964, was the start of building her solo career on the jazz club circuit. She was appearing on radio and television as well. But when she got bit by the theatre bug in 1971, her musical expression broadened. It started at a place called The Global Village (people like Lorne Michaels and Bob Ezrin came out of there), where she appeared in a show called “Justine”, later became “Love Me, Love My Children” when it went to New York where she won an OBIE award (off Broadway award), for her role as Mother Earth in it. It was around that time that she met Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot (the playwright and composer of HAIR) and she was cast in their newest Broadway musical, DUDE, as Mother Earth. DUDE was a flop on Broadway, but the music was stunning, so Galt MacDermot and his killer band (which included Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums and Cissy Houston on backing vocals) recorded an album with Salome called “Salome Bey Sings Songs From DUDE” and many years later she even appeared on the movie soundtrack to HAIR. Somewhere around the time of DUDE, she met Vinnette Carroll (the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway) and lyricist Micki Grant, and Salome was cast in the touring cast of “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope” with Sherman Hemsley and Nell Carter. This lead to her doing another show with Vinnette on Broadway called “Your Arms To Short To Box With God” where she starred as Mother Mary. This play won a TONY award (ON Broadway award) and was nominated for a GRAMMY award for the cast album. After coming home from being on Broadway, she wrote and starred in “Indigo,” a cabaret about the history of Black music. The show, which won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, was adapted for televison and broadcast on CBC TV in 1984. She was nominated for a JUNO (Canada’s GRAMMY) and finally, in 2005, she became an honourary Member of The Order Of Canada.
There. And I’ve only scratched the surface, because literally everyday my sister and I are uncovering more about her that we didn’t know, and if I wasn’t awed before, I’m fucking floored. Bit by bit, day by day, her physical absence is sinking into my reality. And real talk, it fucking sucks.
She had been living with dementia for 16 + years and epilepsy for over 33 years. Since her passing, my family has uncovered so much of her history and achievements that I never knew, music that my sister and I hadn’t heard in years and music we’d simply never heard; unseen or forgotten video footage, newspaper articles from the 1950s, scripts, journals (one from 1958), books, and other writings and so many connections with living legends (and many that have passed on, themselves). It has been bittersweet, watching videos of her singing and speaking or reading her thoughts and learning the way her brain worked. She chose family. She chose Canada, when there was really no infrastructure for Black artists to thrive. She was an advocate for creating space for Black voices and stories to exist in Canada.
I exist in all the ways I do, because of her. I’m really gonna need a moment. This is hitting me in ways that I never anticipated. Unearthing some surface and below the surface emotions, habits, beliefs, all the things — dust has been kicked up. So, gimme a moment. Before all of this happened, I was teaching myself how to work photoshop, I was starting to dabble in music production, I was making cut & paste collage art, I was deepening my Tarot practice and reading for others. I needed a moment, but now I’m slowly getting back on the horse. I’m looking forward to sharing the twists and turns of my own fool’s journey through my music, my art, my words and my majick.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Thank you to everyone who has reached out, sent love, flowers, plants, food, support and patience.
Thank you deeply,
Who’d have thought that this year would unfold as it’s been unfolding. In my world, it’s been a steady diet of purging what’s just not working for me, shutting out the world to dance with my shadow, reading a shit ton of books, listening to Abraham-Hicks, learning Photoshop and deepening my practice with the Tarot.
Yeah, I know, there’s no mention of music in there. My relationship with music has been a changing and challenging relationship — and maybe the reality is, I am having a hard time with the industry of music and how/whether I want to participate.
Ready? Here we go.
Last last year, this time, I think I’d gotten last mixes on my newest album – that has yet to come out – entitled, The Fool . I was playing them around to different ‘key people’ in the industry aka gatekeepers and, aside from one or two enthusiasts, I was getting the same fucking response. The old, I don’t hear a hit or they’re cool and so on and so forth. Walking in with a concept to go with the music and loving up the songs — like, I felt that these would be the songs that would have me sharing stages with all the huge killer rock bands that I love. After being met with overall lukewarm reception, my bruised ego started rattling my confidence and put me face to face with the possibility that, maybe there was something was missing. Sooo I stopped listening to the music and admittedly, got a little depressed. Second guessing myself is a forte of mine, then add being an artist to the mix — there you have a double fortified with second-guesser. Bah, second-guessing also know as, people pleasing. Fucking shit. So now, here I am at this crossroads and I just wanted to trash shit — I envisioned a cinematically dramatic slow mo trashing temper tantrum (you can see it, right?) — I might have unresolved anger…maybe peut etre. Fast forward to mid/late 2019 – beginning of 2020, I open up the vault. Music is my life. Expression is my life. Creativity is my life. I wouldn’t be doing anything else BUT being an artist and I had to walk away to remind myself of who I am. I started writing again, and reimagining the existing songs. Listening to my emotions, my intuition, for no ulterior motive BUT to move ME. Easing on down the road towards really, truly, madly not giving any fucks. It’s a fucking process, a journey. I know that I come off like I’m there, but, I’m not. As I said, I’m easing on down the road and tapping into my inner lion. It’s a mindfuck to truly embrace your talk and walk that shit, unapologetically. Like really. Cause, I’m not like anyone else, never been, but somewhere along the way I invested in the lie that who I am was not enough. And that how I express, doesn’t fit the model for success or some bullshit. Or in order to fit into the world that I naturally express from, that it had to sound a certain way. This is the thing, I express rock from my blues and jazz foundation. And I’ve spent so long trying to fit in or apologize or fight for my voice to be heard and validated, that I’m almost unsure of what my voice sounds like. But what I’ve always known, is how I want music to make me feel, how I want it to move me. That’s my foundation as well, I have got to be moved. Sooo baby steps, or Hermit walking in the dark, with a lantern and a walking stick, moving only as far as the light illuminates — that’s where I am. I’m re-learning/remembering how to trust myself — especially in this world. I feel like we’re all doing this crazy, intense shedding/peeling back layers to return to Self. As I dive deeper, shed my layers of protection and share more of my self and process, you’ll learn from me, that everything is connected — Spirit, Self & Art.
Welcome Warriors and Weirdos, to the state of SATE and my quest, my Fool’s journey to embody my truth, at all times, unapologetically. Like nothing else, because it comes through me, and I’m a different chick. Just like one of my Queen Betty Davis sings, “That’s why, they say I’m different and that’s why they think I’m strange.”
light, love, dirty rock & spirit guides,
2019 was another asskicker of a year, but shiiiit, I made it. But I also made this decade, and what a decade it was!
This past year and decade has ultimately taught me to seek joy at all times and that we’re invincible until it’s our time.
I went from touring as a background singer for other artists to touring 5 of 7 continents with my band (playing the hugest crowd ever — 100k+). I became SATE. I put out 2 independent albums, I shared the stage with some incredible acts, including my two of my all time favourite bands — Fishbone and Living Color. I’ve survived 10 trips around the sun, said goodbye to some people I never imagined I would, faced demons, found and lost people along the way, reached some incredible dream goals, and I’m still going. It’s a gift, this experience. I’ve dreamt the life I live for as long as I’ve know how to dream/what a dream is. I know that for as long as I’m here, there’s still more to enjoy, there’s more to experience, to reach, to manifest, to learn, to let go of, the say hello or goodbye to, there’s more, and every moment is a gift. Truly.
Thank you, Witches, Weirdos and Warriors for joining me on this journey, for sticking by, for pelting the love that you do, for inspiring me, for showing up, for reminding me. Always, in all ways. I intend to give you as much as you give me. I’ve got so much to give
To 2020 and beyond.
All my love,
One of the world’s first Black operas, Treemonisha was a ground-breaking work about the evolution of a young Black woman into a remarkable leader.
Scott Joplin’s visionary work on Treemonisha in the early 1900s has served as inspiration for a group of artists assembled from across North America and the UK by the internationally-acclaimed Canadian company Volcano. This new version – Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha – is a 21st century take on Joplin’s musical milestone, and is being crafted predominantly by Black women.
Treemonisha is one of the few surviving live performance pieces about the immediate post-slavery era written by a Black person who actually lived through it.
Joplin himself called it a “grand opera”, but he was actually creating a new form. It was unbelievably progressive for its time, both musically and politically: Joplin’s young female protagonist, Treemonisha, is elected by her 1880’s community as their leader – long before women could vote; and Joplin’s astonishing music fuses classical and folk sounds with ragtime’s signature syncopations; with the Black precursor to the barbershop sound; and with Gospel. The fusion sound that Joplin was inventing for his opera was clearly the work of a genius.
This was a new kind of opera.
more on Treemonisha, here: https://www.volcano.ca/treemonisha
Left to right: Andrew Aldridge, Andrea Baker, Cedric Barry, Neema Bickersteth,
Jeremy Carver-James, Mark S. Doss, Ashley Faatoalia, Keisha T. Fraser,
JazFairyJ, Marvin Lowe, Justine Owen, David Andrew Reid,
SATE, Kristen Renee Young
I”m so excited to be returning to Hamilton to play inside Ain’t This Hollywood and share the same stage with the iconic one and only Carole Pope. Who was part of the group Rough Trade and she is kicked down fucking doors with politics, sexuality, and badassness!
Saturday, November 9
Door Open 7PM
CAROLE POPE 10PM
More Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1260796780756762/
Alexandra Park Toronto
#BLACKWOMENROCK does Pittsburgh🌪
🌪 very few times in your life do you get the chance to honour a living hero and icon who has inspired you to your core. one who when you discover them for yourself, they fanned a fire in you that you thought was only yours. we are never alone in our weird, our fierce or our desires to break the mould, we just have to find our tribe. in Betty Davis, i found my tribe. in Betty Davis, i was affirmed and inspired. .
I’m excited to play in the August Wilson Arts Center in Pittsburgh (city of bridges), hometown of the queen herself, Betty Davis. moved. inspired. giddy. emo. awed. pinching myself. proud. I’m sharing the stage with another legend, Nona (fkn) Hendryx (!!!) and my sisters in rock Militia Vox, Jessica Care Moore, Steffanie Christi’an, Kimberley Nichole, Ideeyah & Nik West for Betty.
I’m so ready to roar, howl & get dirty.