There have been some really inspirational events this past month celebrating women in line with international women’s day and month.
The WOW Foundation’s WOW Sounds was one of them. A series of specially filmed musical performances curated for WOW Festival UK 2021 which streamed online from 1st-21st March as part of the WOW – Women of the World Festival’s programme of In Conversations.
The aim of the programme was to shine a light on women, girls, and non-binary artists from around the world that use their music as a form of activism, provoking intersectional conversations around gender inequality and more. The previously announced WOW Live at the Royal Albert Hall, which was due to take place on 8th March, was postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. In response to this, WOW Sounds recorded performances at the venue using its traditional auditorium, as well as hidden hallways and secret stairwells. Other acts were showcased from the Akshara Theatre, a concert hall in New Delhi, and artists’ living rooms all across the globe.
One of the artists was writer, singer, and performer Miss Baby Sol who performed from the Royal Albert Hall as part of the launch event. An activist through her music Miss Baby Sol released her debut EP in 2011 which included the track She Cries which was released in support of the efforts of Amnesty International to stop rape as a weapon of war, she has gone on to speak about racial injustice, women’s rights and a number of politically charged subjects through her music.
We spoke to Miss Baby Sol about her involvement with WOW and her career so far …
Please introduce yourself…
Hello, my name is Miss Baby Sol (She/They) DRC born and London bred. My parents were musicians, so I was brought up around music and instruments from an early age. I remember my mum telling me a story once, about me stealing her dictaphone and recording my own song after watching her do it – would have been great if I hadn’t have recorded over some work that she was doing.
What word or sentence best describes your life right now?
Fathomless. Because I have no idea what is going on but I know something will happen. I have faith in what the universe plans to deliver, with hard work and dedication, anything is possible, right?
How did you get involved in WOW – Women of the World UK Festival?
I got a call from Shereen Perera, whom I met when working with In Place Of War. She called and said ‘ I’m producing the WOW UK lineup this year, how would you feel about performing at the Royal Albert Hall?’ And I was like ‘what the hell, yes! Of course yes!’. I have always celebrated IWD and value the guidance, and input, from the women in my life, beyond anything else. And the Royal Albert Hall is a 150-year-old architectural feat dedicated to music and performance! How could I say no?
Outside of music, what are your interests politically & socially in terms of causes you support and rally for?
Equality. The fight against sexism and racism. The fight for the education and protection of all children. The fight against domestic/sexual violence. Body positivity and self-love/accepting oneself. Mental Health awareness. Climate Change. I’m really into recycling/reuse and sustainability in fashion and otherwise.
In what ways do you use your music to bring attention to the social issues you are affected by and how do you think the messages are translated through your music?
Writing is my therapy and music is my shrink. Although it works both ways. I am, myself, debating the world and how I see it, as well as how it sees me. My music is a manifestation of those debates/my thoughts. I write what I feel. All I hope is that it makes people think; I hope it makes them question themselves and their surroundings. I hope they then strive to be better individuals that serve the greater good.
During the WOW Sounds event you performed your track She Cries can you tell us why the song was written and who it was written for?
The song was written after watching a documentary on the Rwandan Genocide, telling of two sisters who had escaped being killed by hiding under the dead bodies of their family. The story touched me deeply, especially as I have a sister and was born in DRC, next door to Rwanda. I went to sleep and awoke with the song in my head, it was delivered to me – the piano part included. It was written as a reminder of my blessings, and that I should be thankful. It was also an observation of the strength and tenacity of these girls. I was in such awe of their strength.
In what ways do you think you can inspire women and non-binary people through the message in the song?
I try my best to be true to myself. To really see myself and accept myself for who and what I am, without letting that limit my ambitions and goals.
You have always spoken about injustice through your music, for example, your song The Future, a track you did with Speech Debelle, which was inspired by the London riots in 2011 and the Michael Brown protests in 2015. How does it feel to see not much has changed and we are still fighting the same fight?
The realisation that I came to as a result of this pandemic and the lynching of George Floyd was life-changing for me. I’m still processing my feelings.
Aside from your own whose performance are you most looking forward to and why?
Nubya Garcia, Shingai, and Ayanna Witter-Johnson, all women that I have had the pleasure of watching and admiring, are part of this year’s WOW Sounds lineup, so I’m looking to see those performances, but I have also discovered many more artists through WOW UK Festival 2021 that I would love to see.
What is the most important thing about being a woman?
Knowing that we run the world. I’m kidding… I’m not sure how to answer this question honestly. We are all human after all. But I can tell you that I know us to be strong, caring, masterful, nurturing, giving and so much more! We are love and love conquers all!
GETTING TO KNOW YOU …
- A book you have to have in your collection? – Black By Design by Pauline Black
- A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
- A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? – Babylon – An 80’s film based in Brixton
Miss Baby Sol’s performance was filmed by WOW exclusively for WOW UK 2021. WOW Sound events and conversations are available here until 31st March 2021.