Category Archives: TRANS SINGER

@Lavernecox Interviews: KOKUMO *TransSinger

KOKUMỌ: Transgender Recording Artist and Activist Talks About Her New EP and What Empowerment for T.G.I. People of Color Means

[youtube http://youtu.be/jY7k89_npM0]

Speaking with Chicago-based transgender activist and recording artist KOKUMỌ, I feel as if I’m truly speaking to one who is anointed, one who has a strong sense of purpose and vision, one who has a profound consciousness around spirituality and history.

The opening paragraph of her bio on her official website, kokumomedia.com, says it all:

“KOKUMỌ is an African-American transgender woman and product of Chicago’s South Side. While growing up, the only messaging she received in regards to her identity was that it would lead to either death or institutionalization. Therefore, upon reaching the age of opportunity she was behooved to give herself a name that spoke of life. After an extensive search and emotional journey she discovered KOKUMỌ. KOKUMỌ means, “This one will not die” in Yoruba, a West African language.”

With the release of her new EP, There Will Come a Day, I wanted to speak with KOKUMỌ about the intersections of art and activism in her life and work.

Can you talk a bit about working in the tradition of African-American artists who are also activists for social justice and how those two things feed each other in your work?

Most definitely. This is my testimony. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’m from the South side of Chicago. You know from a lower-middle-class family. I’m dark skinned. I’m plus-sized. I’m afro-centric and therefore I’m marginalized even within the margins. There aren’t many transgender women like myself. So for me I can’t separate the two [art and activism]. Before I knew I was transgender I knew I was an artist. Before puberty hit and before everyone was telling me, “You’re a boy.” I wanted to be Whitney Houston. I wanted to be Brandy. Then I found out I was trans and people told me I couldn’t be a musician. I had this period of adjustment, this period of not understanding, this period of giving up on my dream. That’s when the activism came in. I am an artist and I feel like my contribution is just as important as anybody else’s. Therefore, me being transgender shouldn’t stop that. That’s why as an artist, as an activist I believe in creating space through my company KOKUMỌMEDIA Inc. for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people to create media the way they see fit. That’s why I can’t separate the two. That’s why they have to go hand in hand. Because I’m a trans person, I don’t have the social privilege. I have to educate as well as create my art. And it’s necessary for me to educate via my art.

Can you tell me a bit about what inspired your new EP, There Will Come a Day?

I have always said I’m an artist not an entertainer.

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