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by SassyBlack

With the release of her new album Ancient Mahogany Gold, Hedgebrook Alum Relations Maven Kuri Jallow caught up with SassyBalck.

KJ: You’ve been doing this for a while, haven’t you? What inspired you to start writing and performing? 

SB: I have wanted to perform for as long as I can remember. Every time I saw a stage or a mic, I just wanted to get on it and share something. I wanted to get everyone’s attention and share myself. I started writing pretty early, but the first song I wrote was in 1997 when I first moved to Seattle from Hawaii. It was about love, and I can still sing it to this day. 

KJ: Why Ancient Mahogany Gold for this Album? 

SB: Those words just floated to me. I was working on a song, and the words came to me in the form of lyrics but stuck with me as the title of an album. The combination of these terms feel rich and hearty and strong and are an excellent representation of self-value and self-worth. 

“Ancient” – representing the age of our souls and spirits that we still struggle to understand. “Mahogany” – like the tree that stands firm and tall. Also, that word just rolls out of the mouth into the universe. And “Gold” – because it is the color of the sun and stars as we see them and holds value in our society. Also reference jazz, funk & soul classic “Golden Lady” by Stevie Wonder & “Sun Goddess” by Ramsey Lewis. There is so much more to it, but this is how I see it right now in this moment. 

KJ: You mention your experience at Hedgebrook helped in developing a song from this album. Can you tell us a bit more about that (and the name of the song)? 

SB: The song “Depression” was a work in progress when I went to stay at Hedgebrook in 2018. I was finally able to really release my outside world and give in to my music. I needed this break from reality like never before, so I dived into myself. In my sweet, serene cabin, I set up all my equipment and let my emotions flow. At that point “Depression” was still a skeleton of itself, a sketch. I was able to flesh out the song with lyrics and some harmonies, recorded in Ableton, my music production software, and with my SM58 mic. It was freeing. I worked on a lot of music and writing while there, but this is the song that made it out. 

KJ: Can you please share with our community how our Singer/Songwriter program impacted your music? 

SB: I didn’t quite understand Hedgebrook at first. It seemed too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s just what it says it is and it’s been a joy getting to learn more about the community and watch Hedgebrook continue to grow in all the ways an organization should and does over the years. I was lucky enough to be apart of the first class for the Singer/Songwriter program, and I can honestly say that it has strengthened my voice and my creativity as well as my community. It has been a blessing. 

KJ: What is next for SassyBlack? 

SB: I am working on a few things, including some short films I am writing and my first poetry book to come out spring 2020. Also music. Music will always be on the horizon for me.

Photo credit:  Texas Isaiah

SassyBlack
About SassyBlack
As each of us travels through life’s proverbial galaxies, inevitably we realize we’re in search of some combination of sustenance and the sage. And the Seattle-based Afrofuturist musician, SassyBlack, provides both in sonic spades. The intergalactic-minded songwriter and producer, who’s traveled the world in performance, offers listeners a 007-style glint in her eye while displaying signature piano licks and drum kicks like a full banquet in her communicative soul. A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, Black, who first started performing in clubs at 18, hit the public consciousness in 2008 with her hip-hop duo, THEESatisfaction, releasing two records on Sub Pop. Since, she has fostered a solo career, writing and producing all of her music and releasing 11 projects since 2015. With melodies often compared to Herbie Hancock and a voice often compared to Sarah Vaughan, Black has received acclaim from myriad publications, including Pitchfork, Noisey, Afropunk, SPIN and Essence. Black, who has shared stages with performers like Princess Nokia and Charles Bradley, has played popular summer festivals like Capitol Hill Block Party and SXSW.

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Ancient Mahogany Gold