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Gender and Music: Featuring Boston Musicians Alana Amore and Damali Willingham

Words and Photos by Caroline Daniels
Graphic Spread by Aubrey Calapp

For as long as history can account for, artistic expression has facilitated the deconstruction of the gender binary. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, a Black and queer blues artist who signed to Paramount in 1923, shamelessly projected her identity to crowds across Southern America. She sang blatantly of her lesbian and bisexual identity with lyrics such as, “I went out last night with a crowd of my friends/It must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men/Wear my clothes just like a fan/Talk to the gals just like any old man.” The moxie it took to challenge the patriarchy in this way paved a path for queer musicians everywhere. Modern nonbinary and trans musicians like SOPHIE, Arca, Anohni, Dorian Electra, and King Princess have followed in her footsteps by fearlessly challenging the male-dominated business of music. While these artists have changed the way we view music and gender, cisgendered men still widely dominate the music industry and hold a disproportionate amount of power over the process. Young artists have taken on the fight that those before them have started, and continue to envision a world where music is truly equitable.

I recently spoke to two musicians studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston about their personal experiences and feelings toward the dynamic they’ve been exposed to as Black queer musicians.

Follow Alana Amore on Instagram!
Follow Damali Willingham on Instagram!


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