Supporting the Black Art Community in Houston
Although there is much to be done to support the black community throughout the United States, at the very least I felt compelled to alter my usual monthly article on concerts and arts events to highlight black artists - musical and otherwise - in the Houston area. So much of music’s history can be attributed to black musicians, especially two of my favorite genres, blues and rock. June also happens to be African American Music Appreciation Month, so named to celebrate the importance of music by African American artists to our country and its culture.
Many black artists have also paved the way for artistic movements, and we are lucky in Houston to have several places where art from local black artists is on display. Read on to become acquainted with and to support some of the fantastic black artists in our city.
Born in Houston, Mireya is a singer/songwriter who specializes in music with jazz, gospel, pop, and R&B sounds. She attended Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and has since released an EP and a full-length album. She describes her music as speaking for equality issues. You can find all her music on YouTube.
Pink LoMein is an artist known for her murals on various textiles, including the sides of purses.
Lead singer for soul group The Suffers, Kam Franklin was actually born in College Station. Her music career started in Houston – she’s been on the scene since 2008. Not only is she popular in Houston among locals, but she’s a nationwide sensation, having appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! with The Suffers.
Vivalda (isn’t that the most beautiful name you’ve ever heard) was raised in Angola but moved to Houston with her husband, a classical guitarist, in 2012. Vivalda is known for singing in Kimbundu, a language banned from Angola’s schools before the Angolan Civil War. She has previously recorded two albums and is in the process of recording another.
Rick Lowe is both an artist and a community organizer. You’re probably familiar with his most famous piece: Project Row Houses. Although not born in Houston, he’s been here since 1985, when he came to study at TSU. He refers to Project Row Houses as a “social sculpture” meant to revitalize the space around them while also celebrating and uplifting the surrounding community and its culture. Read more about him here.
If you haven’t heard Billy’s story, prepare to be inspired. Billy transformed his life through religion, becoming a Grammy award-winning music producer after being homeless and suffering from depression. He now owns The Bridge Life, a production company based in Houston that is home to some of the top Christian artists.
Originally from Houston’s own Third Ward, rapper known as “Fat Tony” attended Carnegie Vanguard, the University of St. Thomas, and University of Houston. His first album was released in 2010, and he has continued to release music, even releasing a collaborative album with Taydex, a producer, just this year.
Michelle Barnes is the brain behind the Community Artists’ Collective, a nonprofit that supports black artists, especially women and children. She attended local high school Yates and taught at Sharpstown High School and Kinkaid. The Community Artists’ Collective features various forms of art, hosting classes on pottery, woodworking, quilts, fashion and more.
Trae tha Truth
Trae is already well-known in the rap scene, but you may not know that he’s originally from Houston. He’s hosting a special benefit concert at Axelrad on June 27 at 7 p.m. with performances from several Houston-based black musicians. Proceeds will be going towards ReliefGang. The show will also have a live video stream.
You may know Christina from her stint on America’s Got Talent; the singer was a semi-finalist in 2018! She’s also an RN and a proud Pasadena native. She got her start performing at a community theater in Deer Park and has performed all over the country. After making it big, she has returned to Houston to spread her positive energy and continue singing.
Guilla is a multi-talented man: Not only is he a rap artist and producer, but he is also a part-time tennis instructor. He moved around a lot growing up, but he has settled in Houston and now considers it home. He started producing music after moving to Houston.
There are somany more talented black artists in Houston that weren’t mentioned here. In addition to checking out these artists, check out the various places around Houston where African-American art is on display:
- The Houston Museum of African American Culture
- Community Artists’ Collective
- Project Row Houses
- University Museum at TSU
- The Gite Gallery
Editor's note: Read Exploring Houston - Hidden gems: Third Ward for more on Project Row Houses, the history of Third Ward and Emancipation Park.
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