On the song “Blk Girl Soldier,” from her 2016 debut HEAVN, neo-soul songstress Jamila Woods lyrically oscillates between the violence Black women experience and the forced strength that is expected of us. The chorus bravely drives this point home: “See she’s telepathic / Call it black girl magic / Yeah she scares the government / Deja Vu of Tubman.”
Woods’ sophomore album, last month’s LEGACY! LEGACY!, continues to relay the beauty, resilience, and intricacies of blackness. The Chicago native names each track on the record after legendary black icons. “GIOVANNI” is an ode to the famous writer’s 1972 poem “Ego Tripping” while “MILES” is a first-person piece that emphasizes the impact he had on music.
Jamila Woods’ sold-out show this past Saturday night (June 1) at Allston’s Brighton Music Hall was a rich commemoration of such a stark and profound history. Her aura is one that emits light and enchantment and duality; Woods’ brand of musical truth-telling practically cleanses her listeners. Her vocal lucidity is refreshing and potent as the clever interpolation of the Black figures on LEGACY! LEGACY! convey just how deep her genius runs.
The purple and white scarves tied to her mic stand were tasteful and symbolic of a performer who brings a piece of themselves wherever they go. Woods was breathtaking and sounded as prodigious as she looked. From the rambunctious curiosity of “ZORA” to the cathartic and Nitty Scott assisted “SONIA,” the singer was on her A-game the entire evening.
Even though most of her set was consumed by songs from LEGACY! LEGACY!, a few treasures from HEAVN snuck their way in. Her heavily Incubus-influenced “Stellar” was a pleasant and enthralling romantic declaration. “Holy” wisely spoke to the importance and underrated nature of self-love. But her performance of “Blk Girl Soldier” was the most anticipated and most rewarding of the night. Not only did Woods revel in her complexity, she reminded the packed venue that Black women should be celebrated and recognized for the extraordinary beings we are.
Check out a short gallery from the Jamila Woods show below, by Arielle Gray for Vanyaland.