This Month we acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Women in history to all industries. In March of 1987, Congress declared March National Women’s History Month, in perpetuity. It was established as a benchmark to “honor the extraordinary achievements of American women”. Since then, there is an annual celebration and honor of women who have made an unforgettable impact in history. The congress mandated declaration was not inclusive of the pioneers of all industries, and across the world. Until the 20th century, women historians were excluded from the professions simply because of their gender. Although women have always been at the forefront of history, our contributions are often overlooked.
The history and achievements of women were unavailable as historians – all men – recorded history centered on male heroes and their struggles. Grievances built up and boiled over in the 1970’s, which lead to a feminist push in the 80’s for equal opportunity in education and in the workforce. This movement was sparked by black women, who have not been highlighted as the true torchbearers of seminal movements lead, barriers broken, and legacies created. Black women fought to end slavery, sacrificed for civil rights and gender equity, and strived for the Voting Rights Act – among all other innovations. Historically, women have made incredible progress to overcome violence, worked despite hardship, and have been devoted to equality across the country. In male dominated industries, women have time and again issued call to action to pave a way for women in the future of the field.
Specifically, within the music and arts industry, women have been influencing at its core and taking career control for decades before mention. Though often overlooked, creative history is full of exceptional black women and nonbinary artists and musicians who persisted against all odds and built a successful career in a male-dominated field. This month, Arkive highlights two artists who have inspired us by making a name for themselves in the industry as DJ’s. We asked them to reflect on how they define their art, how they perceive their place in the industry, and how we can continue to confront areas that need growth.
This month, Arkive highlights two artists who have inspired us by making a name for themselves in the industry as DJ’s.
T. Couture is a Tampa-based DJ, graphic artist and multi-creator who shows love for her hometown. “Born and raised in Tampa, Florida and I truly do love it here. [Our] community brings me the most joy,” T. continues “From the growing art/music scene, our nightlife, sports there’s always something to do in Tampa. Our city is growing, and I love to see the attractions that have come with it.”
T. Couture, who has been hosting episodes of her creation – Couture’d Radio – for two years now, considers herself a “sound healer”. Her position as an overall selector consists of spinning her favorites in genres like R&B, Hip-Hop, Afrobeats, House, Baile, Funk, as well as throwback classics and edits from her favorite producers. “Music is capable of numerous things: from healing, to connecting and to changing lives,” T. believes. “Providing memorable experiences will forever be my mission.” Regarding what’s to come for T. Couture event-wise she shared “I’m completely open to many soundscapes and while I haven’t had the opportunity to throw my own event just yet, it is definitely coming sooner than you all think!” T. stated “I feel that people don’t necessarily dance in outings anymore and I want to be the one of many to bring the energy back into today’s scene. I want my future events to be a space where you can be yourself, dance your heart out, meet someone new, hear good quality music and just have a great time!”
Being a sound healer as well as graphic designer and all around creative, demands balance. How does T. balance her purpose with her art and centering peace? “An organized life is a happy life! I’ve taken it as far as creating daily to-do lists of my tasks that needed to be completed for the day and listing them by their importance.” On relaxation, T. Couture notes “If there is a weekend where I’m free of DJ gigs and completed client’s graphics – I would make the most of that day by sleeping in and spending a little extra time in my morning routine. All in all, resting our bodies in many different aspects is important and If I want to show up as my best self for DJ sets, designing and recording an episode of Couture’d Radio, I’ll do just that!” T. Couture nods to Solange, Jasmine Sullivan, Snoh Aalegra, H.E.R., and DJ Sasha Marie as her biggest inspirations. These are artists she considers her icons and role models for aspiring young women. She feels they represent women in the best way they know how, which is also an on-going mission of hers as a selector.
What can we expect from T. Couture in 2022? “Whew, so many things!” she begins “New collection of merch from Couture’d Goods, more episodes of Couture’d Radio monthly while celebrating the 2-year anniversary through good music, hosting my own live events, more collaborations and being present within my community with music/arts and hopefully others!”
“Music is capable of numerous things: from healing, to connecting and to changing lives.. Providing memorable experiences will forever be my mission.”
Our second highlighted artist, Geexella, is an Atlanta-based DJ and music artist. The SXSW 2022 official artist is known for throwing all-inclusive dance parties and describes their genre as “a safe ecosystem for QTBIOC folx in the south”. In addition to being a DJ, Geexella is also a singer, rapper, and mental health facilitator – they do it all! How do they stay inspired and mind the balance? “I am inspired the most by Joy. Joy is a radical practice,” Geexella shares.
“The patriarchy and white supremacy love to see our joy in practice as fleeting and I try to hold [it] down.” Geexella also shared that they navigate the world as someone living with depression, anxiety, and ADHD, “so I have good days and bad days, but I try to incorporate rituals in my day to remind myself that it’s my birthright.”
When asked if they felt music is still a male-dominated industry, “1000000% I believe this,” Geexella shared. “I know that there are a lot of folx breaking this cycle, but I still feel we have such a long way to go. I appreciate women that are taking the lead in some ways, but it is still centered around European standards of beauty and colonized mind sets.” What cultivation do we need in the industry to further our growth and exact change? Geexella was forthright, “we still need to work on centering marginalized folx that are Black, Fat, Trans, not able bodied, undocumented, and even recently incarcerated folx.” Speak on it! “We have a lot of work to do beyond just having conversation. We need implementation.” Geexella believes it may be messy and difficult, but that if we want real change to happen, we must try and “all throw down to get it done.”
Women continue pushing boundaries, but when asked what is needed from all artists in the music industry – regardless of gender – Geexella related “Sober spaces, Accessibility. I have a lot of friends that navigate so much when it comes to events. I want to see more events inviting interpreters to sets to support communication and being mindful of all folx in the community. I am trying my best to implement more disability justice into my practices.” Geexella is currently focused on school and using themself as an artist and organizing to connect the worlds they are passionate about. The pandemic has affected us all in different ways and was particularly rough on Gee. “Gaining many ancestors in the last year, navigating a breakup, moving, mourning, and healing… It’s been a rough journey. [However] I am trying to be thankful, mindful, and ground myself in this work. Geexella is confident that the necessary changes for advancement can and will be made, “It’s going to take all of us, and we are all we got!” G notes their biggest inspiration as DJ @/uniiqu3music. “She is so fearless and upfront about who she is and what she represents. I love her sound and style so much. She is an advocate for education and always an ally with LGBTQ+ communities.”
“We have a lot of work to do beyond just having conversation. We need implementation.”
Often without mention, we refuse to let these brilliant minds and pioneers in their own right go unnoticed. We continue to be inspired and moved by artists making a name for themselves and paving the way for our futures as women in the industry.
Looking forward to what innovations we have to come, we congratulate and honor the women in our lives and across the country for their continued efforts and achievements.