Gaye Adegbalola & The Wild Rutz bring their soulful blues to MCC this Saturday
“As they say, blues is the roots and all else is the fruits,” said Gaye Adegbalola. The former teacher is preparing for a performance at the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond’s 2015 Anniversary concert this weekend. Adegbalola with be performing as Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz, an acapella blues group consisting of Adegbalola, Gloria Rain, Marta Fuentes, and Tanyah Dadze.
Influenced by the likes of Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, and other great jazz and blues artists, Adegbalola has always know what music was her music.
“Nina Simone took me to Bessie Smith,” Adegbalola said. “Once I heard Bessie, I knew that it was my music. It’s just like anybody today. You hear music and all of a sudden it really speaks to you.”
“That music was primarily from the ‘20s and 30s and I took joy in the fact that these women from back in that era had the strength to speak their mind. Part of my fascination is that I want to keep that little slice of history alive.”
Tradition and community are essential to Adegbalola’s craft. The musicians that inspired her lead her to want to spread joy and empowerment through her music. On Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz’s new album, Is it still Good to Ya?, the group declares that, “Joy is [their] religion.”
“As I grew into my blackness and started examining history and learning what was left out of history for us as a people and I started looking at the music we had,” she said. “Nina Simone inspired me greatly, just in terms of self acceptance.”
“Once I found my history in the strength of these women, [I knew] that was where I belonged. It was my duty to continue that tradition. So, even the music that write will have those kinds of messages, traditions, and styles.
The Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond (MCC) is a church that is not only open to the LGBTQ community, but a space created specifically to serve Virginia’s LGBTQ community. In 2011, Adegbalola was named one of Equality Virginia’s OUTstanding Virginians. In February 2014, Adegbalola was named one of 100 Black Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer women you should know by AutoStraddle Magazine.
Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz is a fitting group for the line-up of the MCC’s Anniversary concert. They seek to inspire and bring joy to their audience and, as lesbian women, they identify with the community at the MCC.
“I think that our music is really fitting for their audience in that we are all out, and we don’t have any shame about it,” she said. “Out music would be a good fit for their audience, for their congregation.”
“This church embraces all people and it is a church for gays and lesbians who are Christian,” Adegbalola added. “So many gays and lesbians are turned away for those churches that have a strict interpretation of the bible…MCC is a welcoming church for all people.”
Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz will bring their storytelling and acapella blues to First Unitarian Universalist Church as part of MCC Richmond’s 37th anniversary celebration in partnership with the Women of Essence and the Richmond Lesbian-Feminists.
The messages of joy, empowerment and equality will not be lost on the audience. These are topics that Adegbalola knows intimately, as most of her life has been devoted to them whether as a teacher, a member of other music groups, as a solo artist or as a lecturer. She helps to give a voice to marginalized people.
“I have my own definitions and my own way of being,” she said. “At one point it took a lot to be that way. I have known oppression as a black person, as a woman, as a poor person, as a single parent, as a lesbian, and now as an old person I am starting to feel some of the oppression that other people may not feel. So, I know oppression but I refuse to let it stifle me and that’s just kind of who I am.”
Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz will perform Sat. June 27, at 7pm at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1000 Blanton Avenue. Doors open at 6:30pm.
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