D.C.-based musician-filmmaker Be Steadwell discusses her journey as a Black queer creative and how she has stayed the course.
Like a great many artists, Be Steadwell has faced down that nagging ghost of self-doubt. For Steadwell, however, the voice that likes to decree “you are not good enough” is actually much more a societal product premised on an inherent history of racism and systemic inequality.
“Imposter syndrome, I think, is really sexism, white supremacy, homophobia in your body manifesting,” she said. “There are systems that tell us we’re not supposed to be in places. We’re not supposed to play instruments.
“All of that feels intentional; it’s not some [innocuous] thing that just happens to us.”
As a Black queer musician and filmmaker, Steadwell knows this issue well, which is why she has worked so hard to dull its sting by pressing on—and telling that naysaying gremlin that she is not only deserving but thriving.
As a teenager, Steadwell joined the jazz band at D.C.’s Field School. The band leader was flabbergasted at her audition when she sang a standard called “Solitude,” made famous when performed by, among others, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.
Alexandria natives Ena Sullivan and Julianne Lane founded their bubble grunge band Ski Queen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their music takes listeners on an honest emotional journey, but doesn’t take itself too seriously, either.
Lead singer and guitarist Julianne Lane started in music by taking piano lessons at the age of just four. Around 13, she started guitar, which led her to songwriting. Lane soon got involved at a local music school, Rock of Ages Music, where she met Ena Sullivan.
Drummer and backup vocalist Ena Sullivan started learning violin at eight years old. She began lessons in traditional hand drumming at an after-school program when she was 10, which sparked her love for percussion. She began kit drumming a few years later.
The pair was involved in a number of different bands over their high school years, but decided to start their own project during COVID, and thus, Ski Queen was born. The group began as a cover band, but as they found their own sound, they began to write their own songs as well.
Sullivan and Lane appreciate the musical history of the DMV.
“Being so close to DC, which was the birthplace to so many punk and go-go bands, has been a catalyst for my own love of music.”
DMV-based Salvadoran-American artist and dancer Chipelo discusses his debut single, the importance of cultural representation, what inspires him to give back, and more.
For Salvadoran-American artist Chipelo, music is a lifestyle. The DMV-based musician, dancer, producer, and actor fuses his diverse talents into his art seamlessly to create a vibrant full-mind and body experience for new and existing audiences alike, and the Towson University senior is just getting started.
Join contributing writer Cynthia Gross as she connects with Chipelo to discuss his debut single, “SIN TI,” how he prepares physically for high-energy performances, the importance of cultural representation in his art, what inspires him to give back to the community as a mentor for youth in Baltimore, and his upcoming performance at TreeFort Fest in Rockville, Maryland on June 10.
Chipelo aka Benjamin Molina has been immersed in music since childhood. He has fond memories of being introduced to Spanish music and Salvadoran culture by his parents at home, and English and American culture in school, as a first-generation child.
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Considering the rocky road she has traveled, award-winning D.C. blues artist Jenny Langer is remarkably upbeat in conversation. She laughs often and is extremely frank, even when relating the routine health checkup that likely saved her life. Langer’s cancer scare lit a fire under her and pushed her to make some necessary changes in her life, including dedicating herself fully to music, no longer content to wait to be discovered. Join contributing writer Eric Althoff as he learns more about Langer’s journey, including her roots and work as a solo artist, and as a member of Honey Larks and the Boneshakers.