GIG REVIEW: Jamila Woods at Green Door Store

“Make some noise for all the black girls in the room.”

Words by Saygal Yusuf & photos by Sophia Messinezi

The incomparable Jamila Woods, a Chicago based singer, poet and activist blessed The Green Door store stage as part of her European tour playing tracks from her solo debut “HEAVN.”

Jamila Woods Brighton

Wood’s solo project is essentially centred around the multi-faceted complexities of “Black girlhood”; expressed through songs like “Blk Girl Soldier” which opens up a dialogue of heartbreak, pain, self-confidence and self-actualisation. As a community leader back in her hometown, it’s fitting that Woods chose the grassroots music venue of the Green Door for her Brighton show. The small venue was packed out with Brighton music lovers all across the board.

Woods’ introverted nature created a sense of intimacy between her and a room of what felt like a couple hundred fans. As she unveiled verses from some of her most personal poetry, it felt like we were in her bedroom pottering about in her diary. I was literally blown away by her songwriting abilities – the way she sang songs about her experiences of gripping racial tensions currently happening in American during the Trumpfuckery. Her understated yet powerful performance got everyone in the room into a spiritual, trance-like state; whilst her four-piece of fellow Chicago natives were absolutely banging, too! When the drummer has a serious bop and the bassist’s dreads are swinging you know it’s a vibe.

A misty purple dreamy haze covered the stage throughout the majority of her performance, creating a sense of mystery around this artist. I guess this could be due to her shyness, not wanting people to stare at her, putting the focus on the musicianship. It made it a strong set visually so shouts to the lighting guy on that one.

She dropped a little Destiny Child ‘Say My Name’ medley that brought the little girl out of everyone, before moving on to ‘Blk Girl Solider’ where she shouts out all the black girls inside.

“Make some noise for all the black girls in the room.”

Needless to say, this was the first time that I and many other black girls have ever stood in a room in Brighton and felt recognised – and it felt fucking liberating, mate.

If there’s one thing that Woods wanted the Brightonian crowd to know, it’s how fucking proud she is to come from Chicago. This was shown in the song ‘LSD,’ a song with nothing to do with drugs but an ode to a lake in her hometown. “I will never leave you, I’m everything you made. Even when you break me down, the water always saves me.”

What made Woods special to me in these moments shared with her in the humble Green Door Store, was the depth of admiration she has for a city that even through suffering more homicides in 2016 than the height of both Iraq & Afghanistan wars, she still sees the beauty. She still sees the love that the Chi holds. And that’s what makes Woods special to me, and that’s what made this gig forever memorable.


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