Nearly three decades ago, in the summer of 1992, a 21-year-old singer from Yonkers, New York, would release an album that would effectively alter the course of music as we know it. With a strong musical foundation in the Black Baptist church and the canon of '60s and '70s soul, Mary J. Blige and her stunning debut What’s the 411? would cement the marriage of hip-hop and R&B, making the genres virtually inseparable for years to come. In the years since, Blige would go on to be crowned the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” in the public’s imagination and the stylistic fusion that she helped pioneer would help to carve out a broader space for women in hip-hop’s notoriously male-dominated cultural landscape.
In celebration of the countless women who have ascended to iconic status in contemporary Black music, on July 27, the Philly Art Collective gallery space is hosting Queens of Hip-Hop and R&B. A stylistically diverse group of artists will be displaying their tributes to musical giants such as Erykah Badu, Beyoncé, and more. Philly Art Collective founder Martell Oliver explains the intention behind the exhibit: “Our goal for the Queens of Hip-Hop and R&B exhibit is to give thanks to women in hip-hop and R&B while connecting music lovers with local visual artists who make a living creating artwork here in Philadelphia. We thought it would be really interesting to see how our artists depict their favorite emcees and vocalists.”
This Saturday, from 2pm to 9pm, more than 25 pieces will be hanging throughout Philly Art Collective Gallery. DJs and live painters will rotate throughout the event, and there will be small trinket giveaways and complimentary refreshments.
Artist Marcia Oliver seeks to use the exhibition as a way to honor these well-known figures both as creators and as women. Speaking with BSR, she shines a light on the event’s intention that runs deeper than music: “These women make up the fabric of who we are more than any other artist. They are our mothers, our sisters, aunties and grandmothers, taking us back to the Saturday chores and Sunday dinners. These women heal, uplift, and inspire but are often underappreciated. They deserve this and many other celebrations for all they have given us.”
The Queens of Hip-Hop and R&B exhibit is a free event Saturday, July 27, 2019 at the Philly Art Collective Gallery, 253 North 3rd Street. Register ahead of time online.