Willow on moving into rock as a black woman: "music is not just music, it is also activism"

Willow performs at Electric Picnic 2022 at Stradbally Hall Estate on September 02, 2022 in Dublin, Ireland
(Image credit: Debbie Hickey/Getty Images)

Willow Smith has opened up about her experience of stepping into the rock world as a black woman, while also discussing the power that music has as a system for change.

In a new interview with the Observer, the pop-turned-punk-rocker explains how her decision to claim space within rock music is a political act in itself, due to the genre's historically poor representation of minorities.

Following her early childhood as a pop star, Willow describes her move into heavier territories as “about stepping into places where marginalised communities haven’t been accepted and saying: I’m human, and I’m allowed here, too'.

“All of us should be allowed freedom to express ourselves in all kinds of different ways, and one of those ways is rock music,” she adds. “Music is not just music, it is also activism. Throughout history, music has driven some of the most intense shifts in humanity’s thought processes.”

Referring to the history of rock, and how its foundations hark back to the talents of the Black community, she continues, "One of my favourite musicians, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, was playing rock with an electric guitar in the 1940s.

“Blues was the birthplace of rock, but that history was put out of sight for social and political reasons. There are still many people who don’t want people of colour, women, people of the LGBTQ+ community to rise and know their history.”

Earlier this month, Willow dropped the beautifully reflective new track, curious/furious, lifted from her forthcoming album <COPINGMECHANISM> , due out on September 23.

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.