Single Review: Amythyst Kiah, “Black Myself”

“Black Myself”

Amythyst Kiah

Written by Amythyst Kiah

“Black Myself” was already one of the finest records of the past few years when it kicked off the Songs of Our Native Daughters supergroup project.

Group member and writer of the song, Amythyst Kiah, has recorded it again and released it as the lead off single for her upcoming solo project for Rounder Records.   The new take differs greatly from the original, emphasizing screaming electric guitars and featuring a untethered vocal from Kiah, who infuses her composition with righteous anger and a gripping urgency.

This new recording sharpens the blade of an already cutting lyric, as she ruminates over the injustices of being a black gay woman in the American South.  “I wanna sweep that girl right off her feet, but I’m black myself…I pick up the banjo and they sneer at me, ’cause I’m black myself.”

It’s a harrowing indictment of the restraints thrust upon her identity, making it all the more powerful when she rejects them wholesale.  “Black Myself” is transformed into a rallying cry of pride and self-worth. “I don’t creep around, I stand tall and free, ’cause I’m black myself…And I’ll stand my ground and smile in your face, ’cause I’m black myself.”

As flawless as the original recording is, this new one is immediately the definitive version.  Indeed, in this era of racial reckoning, this is the only way to hear it now.

Grade: A

2 Comments

  1. Powerful vocalist sings powerful song. Made me think of the first time I heard James Brown’s “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud” in the fall of 1968.

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