It’s not all that often that an artist lays out the pathway between the point where a song goes from being an idea, an instinct, a feeling to where it becomes a fully-fledged piece of art, and so we’re relishing in the opportunity to explore Emanuel‘s journey in the creation of ‘Black Woman’. This touching new song is a celebration of divine femininity, with the main message of “I see you, I recognize you, I appreciate you and I love you”, directed towards black women the world over.
It was during a trip to the Cayman Islands that the Toronto artist began writing ‘Black Woman’. As he shares, ““I walked in hearing these chords and it literally just hit me – it was like I was seeing a music video in my head – and I just started singing about my mom, but the feeling at the pit of my stomach was more weighty.“
The weight that Emanuel is referring to is one of past generations of civil rights activists and black people who strive to exist on their own terms every day. A particular point of inspiration was a filmed conversation between James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni in 1971, which brought up the relationship between black men and black women.
Again, we hear fro Emanuel, “…there’s a very gritty question that they circle around when they talk about the relationship between the Black man and the Black woman and how does one support one another and what that looks like in a world filled with hurdles and glass ceilings and people really trying to break you down on both sides, so how do you balance out affection and love and real support. That definitely sparked my pondering of my relationship with the Black women in my life and on the relationship between Black men and Black women in general from my view.“
As we come to understand through these accounts and from listening to the song itself, ‘Black Woman‘ is so much more than a one-dimensional portrayal of this relationship. It goes so much deeper; through historical teaching and present day experiences. It’s a beautiful, honest and vulnerable retelling of a story we’ve heard before, but perhaps we haven’t truly listened.
Now is your chance to pay attention.