Spotlight of the Month: Musician X’ene Sky

PHOTO CREDIT: X'ene Sky

PHOTO CREDIT: X’ene Sky

Every month, Black Girl, Latin World likes to showcase beautiful Black artists that make us think and feel.   This month’s addition to the Spotlight of the Month is none other than the fabulous musician, writer and activist X’ene Sky.  Check out what she has to say about her musical journey, Afro-Mexican roots and why art is important.

What is your musicial background? How did you get started? What are some of your influences?
I am a classically trained pianist and singer. I started playing the piano at 4 and have been playing ever since. When I was 11, I briefly played the harp, then at 12 I started classical voice lessons. I loved playing and singing, and when I wasn’t playing classical music, I frequently I enjoyed learning the music of Alicia Keys and Vanessa Carlton. I continued performing classically with the Houston Grand Opera as well as competing in mutiple piano competitions, all which lead me to attend The University of Texas at Austin where I studied piano performance. But in my downtime, I began composing my own music for piano and voice, and making covers of popular songs, mostly hip-hop that I enjoyed listening to. As a child, I listened to a wide variety of music, like Damian Marley, that inspired me to look outside my experience. As an artist, my vision for my work is to always be the soundtrack for the revolution.
Tell us about your inspiration and activism.
My art is my reality. I write about subjects like oppression, or patriarchy because this is apart of my experience as a black woman. I believe it is important to speak candidly and honestly about what matters to you as an artist and person. I am unapologetically black, and thus so is my art. I live and speak my truth in the hope that others will live, or question their place and privilege within this world. My ultimate motivator is love. Love of children, love of this earth, love of humanity. So for me, being an activist isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. A matter of survival.
What are your thoughts on the value of Black life?
My thoughts on black life are that we are the root of civilization. We are innovators, we are creators, we are culture. We are a people who have faced so much oppression, but yet have given the world so much beauty. We are found in every sector of the world, in every color, reflecting Africa and all her resilience. The world has been built on the subjugation of those with darker skin, yet in the same breath has had no choice but to accept us as the artistic powerhouses we are. Anti-blackness and the violence that often comes with it, is really anti -humanity. Anti-civilization, Anti-art. Anti-love. Because that is what blackness is.
You spoke a bit on Twitter about your Afro-Mexican and Afro-Native roots. Can you elaborate on that?
On my mothers side, our roots can be firmly traced back to Africa and my great-grandmother owns the land where our family once were slaves. On my fathers side, we are truly a melting pot. My grandmother’s family was originally from Mexico, relocated to Texas, then to Los Angeles, California where I was born and raised. My grandfather on my fathers side, was born in Oklahoma in a Cherokee, Creek Native American and Black family.
How do you feel about Black and Brown solidarity?
I think black and brown solidarity is paramount. I believe it is important that we are always intersectional in our conversations and realize that people can identify as being within both communities. I also believe it important that we do not get into the game or erasure and over simplification of issues. When we say Black Lives Matter, it is because systematically black lives have been undervalued and marginalized. This does not negate the importance of brown lives, but it does point to the overwhelming injustices that people of a darker pigment face in this country and abroad. Solidarity within both communities is important because although our struggles and oppression manifest themselves in different forms, systematically neither of us are valued in this country. I believe that black and brown communities need to have more open,honest dialogue because often times we as a black community perpetuate the negative stereotypes about brown communities. And brown communities often hold on to deep seated anti-blackness and colorisim rooted in colonialism. As communities of color, I think it is also important that we deal with the bigotry and hatred within our own communities, particularly against queer people of color.
Why do you feel music is important?
I believe music is the easiest way to spread truth. As a child, I can remember humming “Get up stand up for your rights” by Bob Marley. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Bob’s music prepared me early for the revolution. It gave me a rebel mindset, and allowed me to think beyond what I was taught in school. I believe my music can be used as a tool to question and promote critical thinking and as a beacon of truth and empowerment.
What advice would you give to women who want to perform?
Do it. Go. Connect with women in your area who are performing, creating, and working as musicians and ask for their advice or guidance. But most importantly, train. Do the work. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of no’s and the one yes, and define who you are and what you stand for long before you touch a stage.
Connect with X’ene!
Twitter: @xenesky
Instagram: xenesky
Thank you for sharing your truth X’ene Sky! We look forward to your continued success.
If you or anyone you know deserves a spotlight, let us know at blackgirllatinworld@gmail.com.
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