November 11, 2016
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Alexandria, Louisiana and I was raised in Port Sulfur, Louisiana.
How long have you been in New Orleans?
What brought you here?
My family moved to Harahan from Port Sulfur to help start a church. My mom was a Southern Baptist youth pastor at this church in Port Sulfur and we moved here to do a start-up church. I also didn’t want to go to high school in Port Sulfur. There was nothing there.
What kind of work are you doing within the music community?
I’ve been gigging. I’m a hired gun to sing with other people in their band and I perform my own music occasionally. I am working on an EP but I feel like I’ve been in a weird space of not really knowing where I fit in and what I’m trying to do with music.
When you were growing up do you remember being told or taught anything regarding how you should behave because of being a woman or a girl?
Absolutely. I was raised Southern Baptist. At thirteen I was given a “True Love Waits” ring. There was a ceremony where I basically dedicated my vagina to Jesus. At a very young age I was force fed that I would not have sex until I was married. That’s how sex was brought up: that you don’t have it until you’re married. I needed to be a good girl. I needed to fall in line. There was a whole spiritual path that dictated my sexuality, my way of thinking, my freedom. That was very explicitly spelled out for me.
Do you remember at what point you started to move your own thinking away from that?
I was leading worship at a church and I was essentially a pastor. And Katrina happened and nothing made sense anymore. I just needed to explore something else. I needed to drink. I didn’t drink, smoke, curse, have sex until I was 21. So it was kind of everything at once. I needed to test it out and I knew that I didn’t want to be a hypocrite so I left the church. I didn’t want to present something that I wasn’t living. I was living a double life for a while because I was still living in my parent’s home and I was being sneaky and partying and living my life. I thought that if I had sex before marriage I would literally go straight to hell and then I had sex and felt, “This is just awesome. It’s natural and it’s not what I’ve been told.” After Katrina, I needed a cleansing. I needed a change. I needed to explore.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
I think a lot of the things I have experienced sexism with have been things from my past that I didn’t realize were sexist until I got older. There are always things that happen with musicians. People assume you don’t know things just because you’re a singer and you’re a woman.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
It never feels good but you get used to it. You get used to certain things being said to you. You learn how to refute things. You learn how to tell people not talk to you that way even if it falls on deaf ears.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
Some of it is really obvious and some of it is more discreet. Sometimes I am naive about shit and it will hit me after the fact. You don’t realize somebody is slighting because you’re a woman and then you realize that was what it was about later.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?
There was a boy who used to babysit my sister and I. He molested her from when she was four to ten and he would have done the same thing to me but I was old enough to stop him. But it wasn’t enough for him to not do things. He would barter with us. If I wanted to play video games, he could put his hand up my shirt. You’re a kid and you’re telling someone no, no, no, no, no and then finally you say “Fine, if that’s what I have to do.,” and then you tell an adult and nobody cares. So I just recently wrote a letter his mother because this person was in our lives even after we moved away from Port Sulfur. I just wanted her to know as a woman what had happened. She wrote me back saying, “Why would you tell me this? Why would you bring something like this up?” I’m in a place in my life where I have to give a voice to the younger me. I have to acknowledge it because there was a time when I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I was pressured by a guy to feel a certain way, to think a certain way. I was completely manipulated.
How do you react when you’re experiencing something sexist against you?
As an adult I’ve got a smart mouth so most of the time it would just be cursing somebody out on the street. As far as musicians go, I feel like I can say things very explicitly and directly to the people in my life. I don’t have any problem calling people out. But when I was working in restaurants I dealt with it all the time. Whenever I was in situations where I would be at a bar or waiting tables, it was harder for me to deal with because I worked for someone else. I couldn’t say fully what I felt or thought. I wish I would’ve quit some jobs that I had instead of allowing people to be sexist.