On Saturday, the Align Gallery will play host to Blackoustic, an evening billed as a “raw, sexy, live acoustic show featuring black, queer music artists.” It promises to be a fabulous evening, with normally fabulous and flamboyant artists such as Jupiter Black, Jurni Rayne and organizer Vixen Noir reining it in a little and going the subtle route.
Noir concedes that it’s a little counterintuitive to a natural performer like herself, who, she says, has been an artist since she popped out of her “momma’s belly.”
“I really started taking singing seriously since 2010,” Noir says. “I always wanted to be a superstar. I’m an ’80s girl and I love ’80s music. I was inspired by Madonna, Grace Jones, the Eurythmics, The Police, and the B-52s was my thing. I also was in musical theater and dance. I always wanted to sing but never believed that I actually could.”
Noir ran a nonprofit in San Francisco for eight years, empowering lesbian women of color through theater and performance. But she got burned out and took off to Australia to have a creative sabbatical and figure out what she wanted to do. While Down Under, she was exposed to the vibrant underground creative, queer, badass subculture.
“I think it was the thing that I needed,” she says. “One day, it was 2007 and I heard a little voice say, ‘I want to sing.’ I was working on a one-woman show at the time. 2010, I got back from Australia at the end of the year and realized that I didn’t have any obligations, I’m not in a relationship, I don’t have a nonprofit to run anymore, I just want to be a fucking artist and that’s all and I don’t have anything holding me back right now. So I committed myself to my dream. When I made that decision, things just started happening.”
Noir describes her musical style simply as “pop,” though visually she has a wild new wave thing going on that borrows from David Bowie, Grace Jones and Annie Lennox. But, she says, she can just as easily be found rocking a sleek suit. All of this and more can be enjoyed at Blackoustic.
“Most of my work has been about sensuality and sexuality, and erotic power,” Noir says. “That’s a huge part of who I am. Pretty much everything I’ve done has been focused and centered around female sexuality and queer women of color. Honoring and embracing our erotic power as something positive, beautiful and empowering. I just wanted to create an event where we as black, queer women stripped away our backing tracks and have one instrument, baring our souls. I did an acoustic show in San Francisco in 2015, it was my first time. It was the most freeing, scary, vulnerable, powerful experience I had ever had as an artist.”
It should be a great time. But there’s an important message that sits alongside all of the fun and games — a message that becomes increasingly important as we live under the current administration.
“We’re black and queer,” Noir says. “They’re stripping away so many people’s rights, the things people have worked so hard for. The best thing I feel that I can do is be who I am, no matter. If I can provide a platform for us to have a voice, for our highest, most beautiful selves, then I’m gonna try my best to do that.”
Blackoustic takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, at Align Gallery.