This All-Female, Genderqueer Music Series Is Changing Everything

    The Hum is coming

    by · April 16, 2018

    Photo by Julie Drummond

    There exists a community in New York City dedicated to uplifting and nourishing female-identifying and genderqueer creatives. It's a rich community with over 200 artists who, for one month each year, come together to stand in solidarity and challenge the creative status quo. The community is called The Hum, and, for the third year in a row, it is coming back stronger than before.

    Every Wednesday this coming May, artists from around the globe will be paired together in what The Hum calls "dream bands." It's The Hum's way of highlighting the fluidity of creative thinking and fostering engaging dialogues that transcend all genres and identities. It's a lesson in creative empathy and true artistry. With no headlining acts, Hum artists are on an equal playing field, linked instead of ranked. This is a series that calls on both the artists and audience to forget their egos in an effort to engage with one another, human to human, flaws and all. Fuck a (mostly) all-male lineup. The Hum is a beacon of divine feminine and genderqueer artistry that does more for creatives than a weekend spent fist-pumping to a backing track.

    But don't take it all from us. We recently caught up with three of this year's performers to see how they feel about the series and to hear what we can expect from their own dream band. Catch their vibes, below.

    The Hum Series will take place every Wednesday this coming May at Brooklyn's House of Yes. Tickets are still available for purchase here.

    Photo by Texas Isaiah

    SassyBlack
    Catherine “Cat” Harris-White, better known as SassyBlack, is a multi-talent. A self-described "space-aged singer, songwriter, and producer," SassyBlack also boasts writing credits, event curation, acting, and entrepreneurial skills. Her music is forward-thinking, funky, and effortlessly, cosmically hip. She's a one-woman show, doing everything from managing to producing herself. The work ethic she possesses is indisputably strong and a testament to her being on this year's Hum Series lineup. Catch her live on Wednesday, May 23.

    What does The Hum series mean for you, as an artist? And as a woman?
    The Hum Series is very unique. As an artist, I love to be a part of events that highlight and give praise to artists doing amazing work that is groundbreaking. It is important to have showcases, festivals, and events that focus on the greatness of women, female-identifying, and non-binary artists. Our stories are important and need to be heard as often as possible. 

    Lately, it seems like everything from festival lineups to media brands are using inclusivity as a crutch or buzzy moment. While it's great that representation is increasing, there's a nagging sense that it's trendy. How do you propose we keep the conversation of representation going in a healthy, non-buzzy way? 
    I don't worry about the hype. There is so much of it going on that, if I did focus on it, I wouldn't have time to create or work on creating spaces for people like myself. I think, if people are really about making a change, they will take the next steps to getting trained on equity and how to upgrade their practices. It will take more than adding women to festivals last-minute in order to not get called out. At the same time, I think it needs to be trendy so that audiences that don't even realize how imbalanced the festivals are, will get a wake-up call. This buzziness also has the ability to educate those who truly believe that most artists are men. 

    Do you believe a truly inclusive project and event needs to be announced, or should it speak for itself? 
    If the project is changing or amplifying a crucial conversation such as this, it should be announced. People can't just assume the work is being done, and those organizing can't assume people will know it's being done. It should be shared and announced to make a bigger impact. The programming must also be loud and intentional as possible and inclusive of the communities the organizers seek to help in order to solve or shed light on inequities. 

    Finally, what can we expect from you at The Hum this year? 
    I will be sassy and black, as always—sharing myself, encouraging folks to love themselves, and spreading good vibes. I will also be practicing my auntie jokes on the crowd. The people seem to love that. 

    Photo by Bunny Michael

    Bunny Michael
    New York City's own Bunny Michael is more than a musician. They're an artist dedicated to helping their audience reach their purpose and not only discover their higher self, but to converse with it. Michael uses their platform to spread healing, be it through music, memes, or hand-painted articles of clothing. They just wrapped a new record called AfterLyfe, the follow-up to their 2014 debut album, Rainbow Licker. With cheeky lyrics and a stage presence that commands a room, expect Michael's Hum performance on Wednesday, May 16, to be one for the books.

    What does The Hum Series mean for you, as an artist?
    I feel really honored the Hum Series asked me to perform. My favorite part about it is that they really encouraged collaboration of different artists performing together. So I asked my friends, LK Napolitano and Zoie Omega, to perform with me. We have been friends for years but never played music together. With all the talent in NYC, you'd think people would get together more and just like jam or freestyle or just be creative together for fun, but it doesn't happen enough. We meet up at parties and bars, but it's so much more enjoyable to really share and connect on a deeper level.

    What does The Hum Series mean for you, as a genderqueer individual?
    The awareness of gender as a social construct is always evolving within me, and sometimes it feels great and sometimes it's really challenging. Finding community and spaces to feel free in your authenticity is imperative to self-care. The Hum Series is celebrating the beauty behind our growth and how it informs our art. I think that's really special.

    Lately, it seems like everything from festival lineups to media brands are using inclusivity as a crutch or buzzy moment. While it's great that representation is increasing, there's a nagging sense that it's trendy. How do you propose we keep the conversation of representation going in a healthy, non-buzzy way?
    I don't think there is anything wrong with representation "trending." It's long overdue. The conversation needs to keep going. It's not over yet. And having more spaces will just allow us to keep learning, to become better activists, better people, to help each other, and to create positive change in the world.

    Do you believe a truly inclusive project and event needs to be announced, or should it speak for itself?
    Further on down the line, we won't need to announce it, but we are just not there yet I believe.

    Finally, what can we expect from you at The Hum this year?
    Telephone conversations with Higher Self, the beating of stuffed animals, screams and sweat, past life regression, joy, and appreciation.

    Photo by Sen Floyd

    OSHUN
    The art of Niambi Sala and Thandiwe is transcendental. The D.C. duo has gone from balancing NYU courses with touring to graduating into full-fledged spiritual guides. Their music is honeyed with truths, revealing everything from heartache to frustrations with our current president to what it's really like to be young black women today. With their life-giving vibes, they live up to their chosen namesake, the goddess of fresh water. OSHUN did not come here to play. They came to uplift, empathize, and celebrate every aspect of life. Catch them in action on Wednesday, May 23.

    What does The Hum Series mean for you both, as artists?
    Being a part of The Hum Series is an opportunity for us to show solidarity to creatives across the spectrum. It's us saying we support art and all the beautiful souls that create it.

    What does The Hum Series mean for you both, as women?
    As women, The Hum Series is nourishment. It's affirmations. It's creating and nurturing a space of support and inclusion, reminding us to be kind to ourselves and our sisters. It's an opportunity to be radically empathetic, leading by example.

    Lately, it seems like everything from festival lineups to media brands are using inclusivity as a crutch or buzzy moment. While it's great that representation is increasing, there's a nagging sense that it's trendy. How do you propose we keep the conversation of representation going in a healthy, non-buzzy way?
    We just gotta keep representing! Trends will come and go, and that's fine. If we're tripping over what others are doing, we'll all get caught up. We don't need to intellectualize representation and come up with a method on how to properly represent... we just gotta do it! Experience and reflect, genuinely.

    Do you believe a truly inclusive project and event needs to be announced, or should it speak for itself?
    Announcing an inclusive event or space could be dope! There's so much power in declaring your expectations. Let people know, your hate is not welcome here. And so it is.

    Finally, what can we expect from you at The Hum this year?
    Y'all can expect divine femininity! Prepare to be healed, affirmed, inspired, and to leave better than when you arrived.

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