Blackity Black Black Is Beautiful is the very first solo record by American, Brooklyn-based vocal and sound artist, lyricist and educator Fay Victor, made of composed and improvised vocalizations and processing and editing of these vocalizations. Throughout her 30-year genre-binding musical career Victor covered almost anything from dance music to contemporary music, jazz and blues and free improvisation. In a way, Blackity Black Black Is Beautiful touches all phases of her career so far and sounds like a personal diary.
Victor used Mavin Gaye’s heavily produced and multi-tracked vocals of the funky-disco song «Got To Give It Up» from 1977 as a template and sang, played keyboards, added textures and further sonic dimensions, all by her own, at Birdwatcher Studios in Big Indian, New York, in July 2022. You can find in the nine pieces echoes of Victor’s formative influences, including the heavy beats of Donna Summer and Sylvester and like-minded dance grooves but also more elaborate and confrontational rhythmic patterns of jazz, ranging from Thelonious Monk and Eric Dolphy to Nicole Mitchell, Milford Graves and Sun Ra, to whom she dedicates the final song on the album.
Blackity Black Black Is Beautiful begins with a strong feminist call, «Black Women’s Music», declaring that «this music is built on the power, sound, soul, pain, witnessing and bosom of black women’s voices». In the liner notes Victor thanks «the women that watched and worked from the sidelines so their families could eat and the will to exist with dignity and strength, which may be the biggest protest towards the systems that work to keep so many of us back». Later she addresses other painful issues of race, privilege and class, attempting to erase the «numbing that takes over», death of loved ones, political ‘blue’ vision («Governorship/Senate (for Stacey Abrams») and self-doubt and determination in your gifts as an artist. Victor also covers John Lee Hooker’s bluesy «How Can You Do It?» and makes it into a feminist, protest song. This impressive album is a thoughtful, obviously personal journey of a unique and wise artist that trusts the power of music and knows that music can motivate people and bring positive change, even with one song.
Fay Victor (vocals, Nord 4 keyboard, processing)