Recommended by Dave Segal
One of the most distinctive voices in the Black Power movement, poet/activist Nikki Giovanni transferred her linguistic potency and charisma to several soul-/gospel-oriented recordings as well as to stages and demonstrations. A precursor to rap, the Knoxville-born writer’s galvanizing, self-mythologizing funk classic “Ego Tripping” appeared on Soul Jazz’s stunning Fly Girls! compilation. Giovanni’s Afrocentric perspectives on race, gender, social justice, and sexuality continue to resonate today, and her smooth, mesmerizing delivery makes her performances riveting. Her new book, A Good Cry, is described as an autobiography in verse, detailing how Giovanni persevered through her parents’ violent marriage and exploring the pros and cons of aging.