by Luzviminda 'Lulu' Carpenter -
Special to the SGN
JUSMONI & WD4D
On Saturday, May 11, be prepared to go on an adventure of fusions and intersections with JusMoni, aka Moni Tep, as she features with WD4D, aka Waylon Dungan, at Washington Hall (153 14th Ave., Seattle), on the corner of Fir Street and 14th Avenue in the historic Central District. They will be collaborating with special guests Dave B., DJ Same, and Gift Uh Gab and ushering in a new renaissance at this historic hall that holds a history of jazz, music, art, culture, activism, and community.
JusMoni exemplifies this fusion or blending of art and activism through her storytelling, her music, and her career as a community organizer, grassroots educator, vocalist, artist, and all-around advocate for LGBTQ people, youth, Black people, people of color, and women, along with everyone standing in the cross-sections of these identities - as she does herself. She began her career at age 12 and by 17 she sold out the Chop Suey venue on Capitol Hill with friends, family, community, fans, and supporters.
When asked how she makes room for herself in all the places she enters, she mentions that her body, as a young Queer woman of mixed heritage on the petite yet curvy side, is not typical of the hip-hop or music scene in Seattle. JusMoni states, 'They don't expect that story and that voice to come out of this body.' Add a message of social change and you get a 'Black Weirdo,' as her friends from TheeSatisfaction have described her. She states, 'I don't ask for space, I take it' - and ultimately she has gained respect in her eight-plus years of performing for workshops, community spaces, and sold-out art and music venues.
JusMoni takes people on her life adventures through her music, from being birthed by a Cambodian refugee mother and Black father, living in the Central District and SouthEnd areas, being a survivor of many harms, having many friends die at a young age, being a single and resourceful mother, coming out as Queer and gender-fierce, and ultimately using her stories, identities, and experiences to advocate for herself and other youth and young adults. She advocates for the next generation because she felt invested in and encouraged as a young person struggling. After spending time with her, I asked, 'Do you know how extraordinary you are?' She expressed that all youth are just as amazing, but 'they are also waiting for people to be invested in them and see them as extraordinary.'
If you choose to accept this adventure, you will not be disappointed, as JusMoni and WD4D usually make audiences smile for joy, come to peace with their past, heal through beats and vocals, and tell a story of pain, struggle, and ultimate triumph through the use of art, community, and dreaming of possibilities.
Recently, I went to The Station Café (2533 16th Ave. S.) on Beacon Hill and asked Waylon what projects he was invested in. He mentioned that on his Care Package label, 'we wear our hearts on our sleeves,' and he was excited to work with JusMoni. You can definitely feel the energy these two create to merge good music and a message. For instance, they had their world premiere of 'A Limit' on May 6, which can be found on YouTube and has a message about setting limits for oneself and others (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAPr09NQgx8&feature=youtu.be). Their vibe and hearts can also be felt and heard on the rest of the Queen Feel album recently released and for sale at bandcamp.com (http://carepackage.bandcamp.com/album/queen-feel-ep).
WD4D has always been a willing ally to LGBTQ folks in the Seattle area, although he would not call himself that outright. He is a very humble DJ who identifies himself more as a beat scientist, and he is one of the most amazing baristas calling Beacon Hill his home. He believes in JusMoni's story, music, and voice - and ultimately its possibilities - and not only advocates for her, but for his community of friends who are creating good music and taking risks to be themselves and express it through their music.
With the fusion of identities, allies, experiences, culture, and musical genres, this night will be sure to fuse stories into an experience not to be missed or forgotten. So move into spring with the music of JusMoni and community to build a future of possibilities where we can blend toward freedom, liberation, and sing and dance our possibilities to FEELTHY QUEENLY beats!
JusMoni states, 'I just want to be part of the process... the process of creating and writing history.' She definitely is writing the untold history within her songs, but also creating a new lens in which to view music and the world with musical and community partners.
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