Often, when hearing about New Orleans outside of the city, it’s historic and vibrant music scene is a focal point for folks. Inside of the city though, it’s clear that New Orleans isn’t a city that is just musically talented…its a city that is talented. Period.
From visual art, to music, to poetry, to…well…anything that requires creative talent, New Orleans attracts, but more notably, produces undeniable talent that is helping shape the creative history of this generation.
Check out this list of New Orleans artists, entertainers and all around dope creatives to follow in 2017 and beyond. All women listed are either native to or currently based in New Orleans.
1. Tarriona “Tank” Ball
Frontwoman of the local band Tank and the Bangas, Tank’s mix of spoken word, soul music and general over-the-top yet grounded performance style leaves audiences of all types…well…banging along. Each performance they put together (and to be clear, they are performances, not exactly concerts) is a new, yet consistently good time. Her music transports listeners into a new world, one entirely created in her head, yet somehow grounds us in our shared humanity (check out her song “Human”, the soundtrack to a recent post on the blog”).
Just this year, Tank and the Bangas won the Afropunk Battle of the Bands and performed at both the Brooklyn and Atlanta festivals, and Tank herself appeared singing backup for Norah Jones on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
2. Janese Brooks-Galethe
Designer, entrepreneur, community woman, mama and all around dynamic woman, Janese Brooks-Galethe is included on this list for her unique, unisex handmade clothing with African fabrics. Aya Designs, co-owned with partner Dana Leon-Lima, was the first ever “Featured Fashions” on this site on the post “i” that spoke about names and identity in the diaspora. This woman has an ear on the ongoing conversation between fashion and it’s relationship to Black (women’s) bodies in the diaspora with designs that combine elements of traditional and diasporic influenced fashion. In addition to her design work, Janese also leads an Afro Brazilian dance class every Tuesday at 730pm at Dancing Grounds Studio.
3. Keisha Slaughter
Fierce and flute aren’t two words that are usually put together in sentences, but after witnessing a performance from musician Keisha Slaughter, you may think otherwise. She also strums people’s heartstrings, I mean, guitar at other gigs around the city (and country). In addition to her work in music, Keisha also organizes with young people in New Orleans and is a music therapist proving once and for all that music really can be healing.
4. Kristina Kay Robinson
Our list would not be complete without mentioning this New Orleans native daughter. Kristina Kay Robinson is a writer visual artist, and one of the most stylish New Orleanians we know! In 2015 she coedited Mixed Company, a collection of short fiction and visual narratives by women of color. Her beautiful writing has appeared in a number of publications such as the Xavier Review, Guernica, The Baffler, The Nation and Elle.com, Her altar work can be seen at various prominent cultural events throughout the city.
5. Jessica Strahan
Jessica Strahan is a native New Orleans visual artist whose work is deeply rooted in the Black / African history of New Orleans and its historical and present day connections to Africa and the diaspora. And it’s not just her paintings, even the frames she creates to house her art are in themselves another telling of history, place and Black culture in New Orleans.
Recently, she was named the regional winner of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series and traveled to Miami to showcase her work in the critically acclaimed SCOPE art show. In New Orleans, she is a member of the Axiom Artist Collective, a collective that also operates a gallery space on Freret St that showcases the work of young, Native New Orleanians.
6. Joy Clark
Joy “Guitar Joy” Clark is a flawless combination of kindness, talent and a reserved, yet mighty spirit that escapes full force when she strums her instrument (check out her Youtube channel of covers). A graduate of the University of New Orleans, her work has been described as “creating a lyrical gumbo of Folk, Blues, Soul & Alternative”. Joy began playing guitar as a teenager saying that most kids would ask her “why I was playing the guitar”. Years later, its clear.
Check out her show dates for the start of 2017 below & buy Joy’s Two Song EP (Come With Me & Another Lonely Night) $5 Digital Download or $6.50 Autographed CD; shipping included.http://www.joyclarkmusic.com
* Jan 6, Fri, Joy Clark & Friends, Roux Carre, 5p – 7p. Free.
* Jan 24, Tue, Lewis & Clark, Chickie Wah Wah.
* Feb 3, Fri, Joy Clark & Friends, Roux Carre, 5p – 7p. Free.
7. Sha’condria ‘iCon’ Sibley
iCon stands for something. Never was that sentiment more true when talking about poet, actress, and performance artist Sha’condria “iCon” Sibley. You may already recognize her from the viral poem “To All the Little Black Girls With Big Names” but did you know that this year Sha’condria made history at Essence Fest by being part of the first poetry act to ever grace the main stage?!
Her work has been featured on Upworthy, Huffington Post, For Harriet, Fusion, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and BET.com. She travels all over the country performing and teaching poetry workshops. In addition to her community work she founded The Little Girls Big Names Project which aims to encourage women and girls with unique names as well as combat name discrimination and stigma surrounding unorthodox names.
8. Christine ‘CFreedom’ Brown
Entrepreneur, activist, community organizer and multidisciplinary artist, Christine CFreedom Brown is a modern day New Orleans Renaissance woman. A photographer and visual artist who has shot for Essence and captured the likes of musicians such as Lauryn Hill and Mos Def, CFreedom is also a hip hop artist creating music to inspire young people and those in her community to envision and work towards freedom. One of the original founding members of the BYP100 National network, in 2011 CFreedom also created Who’s Coming With Me? (WCWM), a “unity movement that supports and created Black artists, business, and youth entrepreneurship in New Orleans” that is in the midst of creating the Ujamaa Directory, a listing of Black Owned Businesses in New Orleans that the community can add to.
9. Lydia Y. Nichols
If you don’t already know about this “Modern Maroon”, get hip in 2017. Lydia Y. Nichols is a native New Orleanian writer, cultural critic, and curator. Her written work has appeared in Pelican Bomb, Liberator Magazine, Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, and The Killens Review. She co-curated the Prospect P.3+ site ExhibitBE, as well as conceptualized and curated “In/Between Spaces” – a mobile group exhibition series in a 26’ U-Haul. The latter exhibition explored Black identity in various spheres of modern life by traveling to predominantly Black neighborhoods in New Orleans and engaging communities that are otherwise alienated from the world of contemporary fine art. Her witty and refreshing blog “The Modern Maroon” is a must read!
CHECK OUT MORE OF LYDIA’s WORK HERE
10. Ebony Johnson
Spend any amount of time around Ebony and you’ll not only be in awe of her grace and poise, you’ll fall in love with her bubbly and joyful personality. A member of the Nkiruka Drum and Dance Ensemble and ballet instructor at Passion Dance Center L.L.C. Ebony commands any stage she is on. Her passion and commitment to her craft is inspiring. She also happens to be an amazing model, be sure to check out her IG!