Black Female Rockers from Betty Davis to Joi

“To be invisible will be my claim to fame.” – Gladys Knight & The Pips

While Carrie Mae Weems’ “Slow Fade to Black” (2010) commands you to consider how the images of famous black female performers like Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Lena Horne, and Josephine Baker are receding from cultural memory and prominence, the series also sparks a deeper question of why the images of black female rockers such as (and most notably) Betty Davis, Joyce Kennedy, and Joi are still sadly mostly unknown, uncredited, or ignored. We can not reduce their invisibility to just race. Because their images directly confront the relationship between gender and sexuality, their reclamation of power and freedom is undeniable, refuting stereotypes and, ultimately, rewriting music’s history and culture.


De Angela L. Duff, Symposium Organizer

De Angela L. Duff is a designer, photographer, web developer, DJ & podcaster. She is also the Co-Director of Integrated Digital Media (IDM) & Industry Associate Professor at NYU Tandon in Brooklyn. De Angela has spoken at the Prince from Minneapolis Symposium, Purple Reign Conference, EYEO, Black Portraiture[s] IV, III, II & II: Revisited, NYC’s Creative Tech Week and Raising The Bar, AIGA’s Social Studies and Massaging Media 2 Conferences, and HOW’s Annual Design Conference. Her work has been featured in publications such as HOW and Print magazines, and the books, Now Loading and www.animation: Animation Design for the World Wide Web. She currently, produces, co-hosts, and edits the Prince & Prince-related podcasts on Grown Folks Music’s podcast network. De Angela holds an MFA in Studio Art (Photography) from MiCA, a BFA in Graphic Design from Georgia State University and a BS in Textiles from Georgia Tech. Her research currently combines music, photography, and technology.