Women Discuss When They First Knew They Were Women, Magic and Mistakes on New SO((U))LHERVERSE Mixtape

Monday, March 23, 2015 | Zanj Radio

Stirring music interwoven with thought-provoking conversation—all from women— is what you will find on SO((U))LHERVERSE v3, a mixtape created in recognition of International Women’s Day. The conversation, recorded live in Kingston, Jamaica, mirrors the music; or maybe it’s the other way around. The featured songs cover a range of genres, from jazz to Indian classical and reggae, making the recording an eclectic acoustic pleasure.

For the project creators, DJ Afifa, The Ear Audigy and Amina Doherty, the SO((U))LHERVERSE is “a fused socio-political-musical space where our voices, women’s voices, are fierce and free—where HER VERSE is HER’d.”

The tape starts with the playful sound of Esperanza Spalding’s Inutil Paisagem, while the nine gathered introduce themselves and share why they have joined the group. The discussion that follows is intimate and political throughout, as the women (mostly referred to by their first names here) weigh in on when they first knew they were women and why a woman’s power is frightening, among other topics.

“When you know seh you are a woman?” DJ Afifa asks.
“I think that it’s subjective. So identities and experiences will determine how you experience your woman-ness. For our purposes, Jamaica, you know you are a woman…I don’t want to say harassed. When I am checked by a man I know I am a woman because Jamaican men let you know you are a woman, no matter what,” Maddy offers.

The discourse turns into one about magic when Amina remarks “I’ve been thinking a lot about magic lately and how we hold that within ourselves.” The others offer alternate definitions of magic, describing it as the power to create something where the resources to do so don’t seem to exist, in a way that could be compared to sorcery.

“It is just so interesting how historically they burned thousands of women because they thought they were witches. It happened all over the world. So for me it’s this question of what is it about our power and our ability to actually manifest what we want to see in the world that makes people so afraid?” asks Amina.

“I don’t know if it’s the power of them, as much as it is the hate for them, the contempt, the separation, that this is another kind of being over there and I don’t expect this being to be trying to present in certain ways or move out of my sense of what this being must do,” says DJ Afifa.

A soulful song by Stacy Barthe, Flawed Beautiful Creatures, leads us into a deep discussion about love, in which Maddy chirps in “It’s the ultimate magic.”  Zé reads a poem about a love gone awry, which leads to the question “Are there really mistakes, in love or otherwise?”

A mistake is just a decision that forces you to grow in a different way,” Anya protests. “You are in a relationship that ends with a poem like that, you know what? That wasn’t a mistake!”

“I think especially as women sometimes the stakes feel so high. Not just about intimate or sexual relationships. It could be work, it could be job. Like if it doesn’t work this time then it’s the end, might as well be dead! The mistakes, decisions are a part of the journey, part of what takes you on the trajectory that you need to be on,” says Georgia.

The recording ends with each of the women sharing a word that remains with them, having participated in the live session; among them: “love”, “gratitude” and “SO((U))LHERVERSE”.

This is the third version of the SO((U))LHERVERSE mixtape. In 2012, DJ Afifa and Amina Doherty collaborated on the first. You can listen to the new mixtape here.

– Shawna-Kaye Lester

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