Feministing Jamz: Notable women of Afropunk Fest 2015

We love the AfroPunk Fest at Feministing, both for booking talented queer and feminist performers and for putting their no hatefulness message all over the internet and the grounds of the festival. This year included a number of excellent women performers, from the legendary to the on-the-come-up. Check out the notable women of this year’s Afropunk fest! 

In no particular order:

Lion Babe

Lion Babe is a duo fronted by singer Jillian Hervey. They’ve been making waves lately and getting a lot of attention for their upcoming debut album, said to be coming out later this year, and which will be featuring the particularly feminist “Wonder Woman,” above.


SZA is just the cutest. She makes dreamy music, is an excellent performer, and does a really great job of seeming like the most down to earth person ever. This was her second year performing at AfroPunk, and she previewed a new track, so hopefully there’s more where that came from. I seriously just wanna eat pizza and make art and watch Bob’s Burgers with her now. Maybe think about outfits. Hit me up girl!


Oh Kelis, bossy lady of my heart! Kelis’s music has grown and shifted, but is always, always on point — from her “Milkshake” days to her latest and excellent album, last year’s “Food.” My favorite moment of her performance at AfroPunk this year was definitely her singing about bringing all the boys to the yard while very, gloriously pregnant. Killed it.

Grace Jones

What to even say about this legend? Grace Jones is the original, the coolest weirdo, a rebel. At AfroPunk this year she performed in body paint and a corset, freeing the nipple with her magnificent 67-year-old self, hoola-hooping while flawlessly performing her 1985 classic “Slave To The Rhythm.” What a fucking badass.


There’s truly nothing not to love about this woman, who once described her sound as “Brandi but weird” AKA everything I never new I needed. She truly stole the show, showing such a full command of the stage, her voice, her performance. She also played some new material from an upcoming release, so stay tuned for some new Kelela soon!

Lauryn Hill

Ms Lauryn Hill — another legend. The sound was kinda shitty, and then she got her sound cut off because she went over time, though she refused to get off the stage and continued with her set. Big fucking mistake, AfroPunk — when Ms. Hill performs, let us listen! Nonetheless, I’d be remiss if I did not list her. For those of us who grew up with The Fugees and “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” she remains untouchable.

Ms. Shagasyia Diamond and the TWOC who took the AfroPunk stages

At 5pm on Saturday, a group of people organized by trans women of color — myself included — marched across the festival grounds, taking each stage one at a time with a message: Black trans women’s lives matter. As part of this act of protest, a number of Black transfeminine folks got on stage, spoke, and Ms. Shagasyia Diamond sang “I Am Her” — a rendition of which can be seen here at the Audre Lorde Project’s space. It was powerful and important reminder to festival-goers at a time of extreme violence toward trans women of color. Big ups to the artists who ceded their time onstage for this important action, and fuck Suicidal Tendencies for being rude as hell.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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