Willow Speaks To Music As Activism And Performing In The World Of Rock As A Black Woman

WILLOW - t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l ft. Travis Barker (Official Music Video): willowsmith, YouTube (image from Facebook)
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Many might know of Willow for her vocal cameo in the Machine Gun Kelly song “Emo Girl,” but it is also important to note that she is a bad ass rocker on her own. Back in 2015, she released her first studio album titled Ardipithecus, which involves elements of hip-hop and soul; come 2021 however, Willow released her album Lately I Feel Everything, which featured the artist embracing the sonic styles of emo, punk, and nu metal.

Willow has gone on to make a name for herself in the world of rock music; and as she shares in a recent interview with the Observer, her decision to venture into the world of rock was a purposeful political decision. Per her own words, Willow shares that, her presence within rock is “about stepping into places where marginalised communities haven’t been accepted and saying: I’m human, and I’m allowed here, too’.”

She then goes on to add how important it is that people are allowed to express themselves, and while many may look to art as just a form of entertainment, it is important to remember that art is also inherently political.

“All of us should be allowed freedom to express ourselves in all kinds of different ways, and one of those ways is rock music. Music is not just music, it is also activism. Throughout history, music has driven some of the most intense shifts in humanity’s thought processes.”

Willow then goes on to bring up one of her favorite musicians and how bigotry and gatekeeping is still rampant in rock.

“One of my favourite musicians, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, was playing rock with an electric guitar in the 1940s. Blues was the birthplace of rock, but that history was put out of sight for social and political reasons. There are still many people who don’t want people of colour, women, people of the LGBTQ+ community to rise and know their history.”

These are incredibly important and insightful points, for greater inclusion and diversity only make a given artform all the more powerful and special. It is important that, the creation and enjoyment of art, be accessible to everyone, and we love to hear Willow championing that message. Willow is an incredible artist, and we are very excited for her new album, Coping Mechanism, when it arrives this year!