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Friday, December 5, 2008

The Funktresses!

As promised I am delivering a post about the women of funk music. Funk music is the music I remember around the house as a little girl in the 70's. That's right I said the 70's you wanna make something of it? It had heavy bass guitar sounds, organ bangs, lots of "owwws," "yowwws," "eewwws," "unhs," and "yes suhs." Of course, there were costumes and over the top antics from the performers, It was exciting. That music gave me a huge sense of pride about being young, beautiful and black. Most of the performers were men. Sly stone, Larry Graham, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and James Brown were the usual suspects.

But when I saw the women of funk, I would just go crazy. They were sexy, strong and almost seemed taboo somehow. They gave black women of that day the permission to do and to be something other than sweet, conservative, lady-like, well-mannered, damsels that you often see depicted in the era of the early 60's.

I did a post earlier on Nona Hendryx, and I've made mention of Taka Boom, Chaka Khan's sister. They were funktresses. I think the most popular funk sisters of that day were The Brides of Funkenstein. They would usually be found right along side George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, and Bootsy Collins. However, they started out singing with Sly Stone.

Betty Mabry Davis, the ex-wife of Miles Davis (She came before Cicely Tyson married him), was a great Funktress. She was a fashion model and produced great funk music in the USA and in Europe. Some credit the genius of Bitches Brew from Miles Davis directly to her influence on him.

Another female funk group was Parlet. They were similar to Brides of Funkenstein, but less popular. They were a spin-off of parliament. They were very talented. There were many iterations of this group, this is the 1979 version, although they started in 1975.


Jennifer said...

I'll have to look at the video when I get home. I agree that the women performers back then were awesome. I showed up on the scene for the last half of the seventies, but I remember the costumes and the big personas. I was afraid of many of the guys because of all the "stuff" they had on and some of the play with sound. There was a pleasure and pain I think that you could hear and I don't know if that was intended, just how I interpreted it as a kid. I love it now :)

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

Great info. Would you consider LaBelle funky? I think that based on their out of this world outfits alone they qualify!

Jewelry Rockstar said...

LaBelle would be considered funky, but not necessarily
She-funk. They started out as the Blue Belles, and they started dressing up to gain notoriety and popularity. Nona later was more of a funktress with her music and style.

Weith Kick said...

I love funk music. My favorites are James Brown (the godfather), early Red Hot Chili Peppers, Curtis Mayfield, The Ohio Players, Kool and the Gang, and of course, I've always loved Chaka. I am not so familiar with other funky chicks. Thanks for enlightening me. I'll have to check out The Brides of Funkstein. I love the name.

MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner said...

I LOVE this post... Parliament, George Clinton, Sly, Ohio Players--you done gone and touched a girl! I have to check out these funky funk sistas... I'd only heard of the Brides of Funkenstein... I'm heading to iTunes right now!

Jewelry Rockstar said...

@ Denene I forgot about Suga Foot and 'nem.

Ms. Bar B: said...

I'm an 80's baby, BUT I do love 70's funk. It just seemed like a time of freedom and fun. I have been dying to have a 70's theme party. If I ever do I know just who to ask for a playlist =)

fly tie said...

another great musical post!

betty davis is one bad woman. i've got a couple of her albums in my computer music files.

gotta love funk.

crys said...

this post
this post right here
man this post right here
got you added to my blog roll*

*unfortunately that means absolutely nothing sorry* lmao!!