Alison de la Cruz begins the concert with a comforting prayer. It doesn't take long after this for the audience to experience its first real bang, or actually a majestic, wild and noisy SHE-bang. Maya Jupiter hits the Bovard Auditorium stage, and her powerful blend of hip hop seizes the eye, the ear, the whole body. She primes us for the rest of the Artivistas – seven women, seven artists and most importantly, seven political activists. And at this powerful USC Visions & Voices event last month, these women were not planning on holding back.
A crowd favorite, Medusa hits the stage to a thundering roar. Medusa is a Grammy award-winning musical goddess, the godmother of West Coast hip hop. Known for her high energy performances, she lets it all out for everyone in attendance. "Ladies, all we have to do is take our power and give" she repeatedly proclaims.
Next up is Georgia Anne Muldrow. Known for her beats and her powerful, truth-exposing words, she repeatedly tells the crowd, "The power is in the mind, it's time we understood," while the electric tempo and forcefulness of her singing style captivates the crowd.
Faith Santilla picks up where Georgia Anne Muldrow leaves off, and rather than performing a song, delivers powerful stories about her life and the struggles that people encounter in the world. As a working mother herself, she shares that she has struggled from time to time to provide for her daughter, and how her rights, and the rights of other women, have gone to mess.
What ensues next is something rather unusual. Rather than artists singing, people of different ages and races walk up to the stage, holding signs that say things like "affordable rents for all" and "investment without displacement". A recent event that occurred on the USC campus of more than 100 USC custodians, professors and students marching through the campus Monday afternoon to protest for better wages led me to believe that this was some sort of protest that was occurring.
As the concert continues, Martha Gonzales is the next artivista to perform. Using the passion and vigor that led to her to winning a Grammy award a few years back, her performance is nothing short of a spectacle. Rather than just walking up on the stage to perform, she and two little girls come running onto the stage wearing luchador suits. Being a concert full of flavor and surprise, this was one of the coolest parts of the display. It was a performance full of flavor and frenzy, with Gonzales singing passionately on the change she wants to see in the world.
As all the women gather for the final act of the concert, Alice Bag steals the show. Known for her electric, thrilling punk music, she displays all that and more. Engaging the crowd passionately, she keeps shouting the words "no means no." It gets to the point where the entire crowd is screaming those words in unison with unreal rage. This is a liberating ending to a concert filled with passion, powerful messages, and empowerment.