Often times when discussing musical innovation and instrumental skill, the discussion is limited to males - specifically white males. But, as often the case, there is a population that has seemed to slip through the cracks in this discussion - Black, women guitarists.
Consider Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a guitarist, songwriter, and singer. Tharpe was known for her fiery vocal expression and her ability to seamlessly merge genres such as Gospel, R&B, and Pop. And in some circles, she’s credited as the originator of Rock N’ Roll. We can see the spirit and fire of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in current-day popular music through the likes of Alabama Shakes front-woman, Brittany Howard, who also is able to seamlessly merge genres, while producing spirit and passion-filled vocals.
A name we could soon be adding to the list of great guitarists is Gabby Logan aka Guitar Gabby, a guitarist based out of Atlanta, GA. Gabby is the front-woman for her band The Txlips. Already garnering endorsements from the likes of Ernie Ball and Empire Ears, and having been featured in Guitar World Magazine, Gabby has been making her mark on the music world for some time now. Currently on a tour with her band The Txlips that will take them to AfroPunk (Brooklyn and Atlanta), Detroit, and Florida, Gabby took some time to talk about her musical journey, gender bias and racism in music, and some of her new music. Here’s our conversation:
Stanley Thanks so much for doing this interview! When did you start playing guitar? Did you take lessons?
Gabby 11 years ago...or it may be more by now actually...jeez I’m old lol. Nah, I actually started teaching myself! I studied with a classical teacher for 3 years, which is when I learned classical guitar. After that, I kept teaching myself guitar, and I’ve been teaching myself since then. I think its actually been a smooth 12-13 years now lol.
Stanley Who are some of your influences on guitar?
Gabby Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Steve Vai, Jimi, Jeff Beck, Kirk Hammet, Orianthi, and some others.
Stanley It's funny that you mention Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I recently learned about her about two years ago. She actually inspired me to do this interview in some ways. Her influence is so deeply tied the roots of American music, but she's often overlooked, as an artist and guitar player.
I wanted to change gears a bit, and talk about some of the music you’ve put out as a solo artist, as well as with your band, The Txlips. Can you talk some about The Lost One and huge single, Hold On A Little Less Tighter?
Gabby I composed both songs. The Lost One was a song I actually wrote 7 years ago when I was going through something in life. The song represents when you are going through something or you think you are looking for something or someone in life and you maybe come to a realization one day that you are not supposed to be looking for that thing or that person.
Hold on a Little Less Tighter was written around 7 years ago also. I wrote that song about leaving a relationship I was just ending and I was telling myself that I needed to hold on a little less tighter to the person I was attached to.
Stanley Over the years, the guitar has been predominately identified as a male instrument, specifically white male instrument. As a black woman, and guitarist, can you talk about your experiences in guitar/music spaces?
Gabby I have experienced so much within this. For starters, I do realize that the industry subconsciously caters to white men. Like period. I experience the negative end of this everywhere, from social media, to in person at venues when white sound engineers want to play with my sound in the middle of a show (this happened and I had to stop the entire show to cancel his ass. :) lol.
I created my band The Txlips Band to represent for black women in rock. I want to achieve all that God has in store for us. We are good ole rock n roll with the edge of other influences and styles.
I often feel that I get overlooked because I am a woman that plays guitar in a male dominated industry as well as being a black woman on top of that. The thing I have learned though is that I don't give a shit lol. People will always be ass holes, like as a whole we can be some ass holes. I decided that that negative atmosphere and industry won't stop my parade. As a matter of fact, ALL of you WILL listen and watch and notice and follow. This is part of the reason why I created my current all black woman band. Because we need a space that is for us and by us. I created my band because I know that we need representation period. We will never go anywhere.
Stanley We've seen some artists intentionally create all-woman bands, in particular Beyoncé's touring band - The Sugar Mommas and Prince's 3rd Eye Girl. Can you talk some about your band? What you all hope to achieve, the style of music you all play, etc.
Gabby I think it is important for black women to exist in the realms of rock n roll because this is a genre that black people created. I often feel that black women are pushed aside especially in rock n roll and I felt that needed to change. I created my band The Txlips Band to represent for black women in rock. I want to achieve all that God has in store for us. We are good ole rock n roll with the edge of other influences and styles. We curate many sounds into one and express ourselves through that in rock.