Queendom is three women based in Oslo, Norway with backgrounds from Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda whose music delights, inspires, educates, and makes a global village out of an increasingly divided world. Their amazing 2012 debut album, Still Rising, is brilliantly and perfectly named because the work of these women – which includes not only music, but writing, television, and performance – is like a vibrant, living spiral that shakes up energy and people’s lives as it moves up and around, circling the planet from Africa to Europe to North America and beyond.
To me, Still Rising, speaks of the power of our common experience as women that is made richer and wiser when we learn about and appreciate our individual and cultural differences. Gone is a song about the loss of childhood’s precious people and moments as well as its gifts that we take with us all our lives. To see a video of the song, click here. I grew up in Michigan, where the snowy landscape and Midwestern American culture was far different from that of the Ugandan scenes in the video, but both the poetic lyrics of the song as well as the human interactions of a reunion in the video are perfect expressions of my own feelings and family gatherings and that of women all over the globe. The album shines with the vibrancy of the everyday experiences of Queendom’s members, but at the same time, there is not a song on the album that does not evoke an emotion or memory from my own life.
I love the political fighting spirit of this album. Queendom is not afraid to speak clearly and bluntly about ending repression and oppression. As I listened to it for the first time driving down a peaceful, rural New England road, I was taken aback by the military language of The Battle Is Won, Soldier, and Babylon, but then I realized that my reaction was a reflection of the community where I live and the women’s spirituality aspect of feminism I’ve chosen to work in and that I’ve missed feminism’s fiery spirit. A hallmark of Queendom’s expression of activism is humor, something else that is too scarce in my life. One song, Declaration of Dependence, is told from the point of view of a woman who has no need to worry about poverty and so focuses instead on what color she will wear that day – who among us doesn’t know people like that! It’s too easy for all of us – especially me! – to settle into comfort zones. Queendom is a breath of fresh air, reminding us of other ways to express ourselves and the amazing and wondrous diversity among the unity of women in the world.
Perhaps the song that expresses the joy of Queendom best for me is Home is Where the Heart Is, about finding your place in the world by where your spirit lives rather than geographical boundaries of where you were born or where your legal residence is. Still Rising is about carrying your home with you wherever you go, which both unifies us and instills pride in our individual differences. To see their video of this song, click here.
Still Rising offers a variety of styles, from quiet and tender ballads to rousing rhythms. It will have you both teary and up and dancing. The lyrics are primarily in English. It is available on Amazon, itunes, and Spotify. To see a longer video diary of a recent trip to the Harare International Festival of Arts, click here. To go the English version of their website, click here.