ArtistShirlette Ammons

"There's a lot of us!"

Shirlette Ammons
english (Durham/North Carolina)
shirletteammons.com
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Pretty Precious Cargo: to get to know Shirlette on a road trip somehow seemed like meeting her in her natural habitat. Drifting, zoning at the wheel, her shades reflecting the sunlight, her mind apparently reflecting on the ways things go, her words designed to sketch a map of what she perceives and to draw imageries of possible journeys. The horizon shifts with every mile, while she herself – as her poetry does – keeps being centered in her visions, her ancestry and the very moment in the now. Laid back, smart, and very funny with all the word play she constantly drops: the now is where she talks.

 

And the stage is where Shirlette Ammons gets serious. “I think about the role I play in this queer body…and also in music… I think, being queer and a musician means pushing boundaries. But, if we stay in the bubble (our comfort zone), we won’t be able to push boundaries.”

While “travelling” through various projects over the years, with various bands and musicians, performing traditions from Country to Rap, apparently unwilling, somehow unable to decide on a certain “artistic profile”, consistency is found in her unique, elaborated art of rhyming, of writing lyrics. Shirlette above all is a poet.

 

Twilight 4 Gladys Bentley” is her first all HipHop studio album. Text- and soundwise the album is overtly sexual. Here, Shirlette fuses queer history with the power of spitting lyrics on a beat. Gladys Bentley was a Black artist from New York who in the 1930s was known for her performances, i.e. lesbian parodies of blues. Twilight 4 Gladys Bentley is a homage, a historic reference to strong female queer art traditions, to those who opened the pathways… In Hip Hop and Rap, self-affirmation almost traditionally is achieved by presenting oneself as sexually powerful. To be recognized as a rap artist, sexual power seems to be a core feature. By openly inscribing queer lesbian history in her music, Shirlette acculturates and transforms those potencies of HipHop to empower queer sexuality. Seriously beautiful.

 

(with Mosadi Music) The Window (2006):

1. It’s Alright

2. Ubettarita

3. He was an MC

4. Every Corner

5. Interlude

6. Appreciate

7. John Wayne

8. Battalions

9. Luv Dub

10. Beautiful Trajedy

11. Interlude

12. Guitarbassdrumbeatjazz

13. Love With No Direction

14. The Window

 

Matching Skin/John Anonymous [Poem/EP – Compilation, Carolina Wren Press] (2008)

1. Ain’t It

2. Juju Man

3. Looking Glass

4. Tattooed Smile

5. John Anonymous

 

(featuing The Beast & Nnenna Freelon) Strangelove (2010):

http://music.thebeastmusic.com/track/strangelove-ft-shirlette-ammons

 

(with The Dynamite Brothers) And Lovers Like (2011):

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dynamitebrothers2

1. The Shake (part 2) ft. Juan Huevos

2. Nevamind ft. Kelly Crisp

3. The Catch Up ft. Pierce Freelon and Jocelyn Ellis

4. Lifeline

5. Kissin’ and Cussin’ ft. Justin Robinson, Daniel Hart and Adrian Duke

6. Tomorrow Neva Comin’ ft. Yahzarah

7. Tomorrow – Today ft. Shana Tucker

 

Twilight For Gladys Bentley (2013):

http://shirletteammonsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/twilight-for-gladys-bentley

1. Get Dressed ft. Chaunesti

2. Gut Lightning

3. Dandelion [Eatin’ Out]

4. Interlude [Late to the Party]

5. Late Night Slow Dance

6. Fast FWDing

7. Find Time ft. Chaunesti and Jocelyn Ellis

8. Take a Chance

9. Creeped On ft. Chaunesti and Max Bedroom

10. Purple Neon Pink Champagne ft. Little Hollow

11. Twilight ft. Sy Smith

12. Interlude [Impress Me]

13. Sexy Cerebellum ft. Ellington Felton

 

(features Sookee) Dandelion [Eatin’ Out, remix] (2013):

http://shirletteammons.bandcamp.com/album/dandelion-eatin-out-mixed-remixed-2

 

 

Take a Chance (2012):

http://vimeo.com/44870384

 

Gut Lightening (2012):

http://vimeo.com/46018264

 

(features Refpolk & Pyro One) Straßennamen (Berlin, August 2014):

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BU2s8VJgHs

 

 

freestyle, live & else:

 

(featuring Sookee) Dandelion [Eatin’ Out] (live, march 2013):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_1s-p35TjM

 

(with Jon Waves) Gut Lightening (live, 2012):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRACAko3ik0

 

(with Jon Anonymous and Justin Robinson) Kissin’ and Cussin’ (live at the Pour House, Raleigh NC, 2009):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MA6bMSTQbg

(with Jon Anonymous) Dangerous (live at the Pour House, Raleigh NC, 2009):

http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/59139165#pm_cmp=vid_OEV_P_P

 

Ain’t no Shame in Matching skin (poem, 2008):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drg8DY2atv8

 

Boy Clothes (poem, 2008):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPn-iiq9cK8

 

“Hell Yeah, Hopscotch” interview at the Donkey Jaw, September 7, 2012:

http://thedonkeyjaw.com/2012/09/07/hell-yeah-hopscotch-shirlette-ammons/