Change requires action. Either you sit by idly and let the world stay the same as it passes you by, or you get up and make your mark.
Iconic music trailblazer Joi Gilliam continues to leave a lasting impression—but she does so actively…
Born and raised in Tennessee, she became synonymous with the burgeoning Atlanta scene in the early nineties after relocating. 1994 saw her release a classic in the form of The Pendulum Vibe. As signature single “Sunshine & The Rain” took off, she made history as “one of the first black models to appear in a major Calvin Klein ad campaign.” She became the Dungeon Family’s leading lady in the early nineties. Meanwhile, legendary filmmaker Mario Van Peebles chose to re-record her “Freedom” with the help of 60-plus vocalists, including Mary J. Blige, En Vogue, TLC, Aaliyah, and more. Backed by alternative luminaries Fishbone, she unleashed the oft-bootlegged Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome in 1997 followed by the epic 2002 offering Star Kitty’s Revenge. The latter yielded immortal smashes such as “Lick,” “Techno Pimp,” and “Jefferson St. Joe”–which paid homage to dad Joe Gilliam (the NFL’s first black starting quarterback). Next up, 2006’s Tennessee Slim is the Bomb marked her first independent salvo.
In many ways, it was all just a precursor to her fifth full-length album, S.I.R. Rebekkah Holylove. Recorded primarily in the artist’s own studio dubbed “the funky jewelry box” and alongside co-producer Brook D’Leau, each track vividly and vivaciously roars to life.
A rapturous collection of morphing soundscapes, airy beats, seductive essence, and vocal witchery, it represents a clear progression.
“Rebekkah Holylove is the current alias in a long line that I’ve taken over the years such as ‘Star Kitty’ and ‘Tennessee Slim’, but there’s more going on,” she explains. “The acronym S.I.R. stands for ‘Savage, Immortal, & Righteous’. It covers the spectrum of one’s highest self. It’s a self-recognition of being god in the flesh as a black woman, specifically. It’s a sexually liberated and free-thinking space. It’s an unapologetic dissection of my thoughts, actions, and interactions. S.I.R. turns the whole construct of patriarchy on its silly ass head to adopt an equally masculine and feminine approach. The woman gives life, period. It’s indisputable. This is what I’m talking about.”
Flaunting the same fire, ferocity, and focus that made her a legend in the first place, 2018 remains ripe and ready for Joi’s return.