Amythyst Kiah’s ‘Black Myself’ Music Video Proves Her Experiences Are Others’, Too [WATCH]
Amythyst Kiah's new "Black Myself" music video finds a bit of universality in her experiences. The singer-songwriter's new clip shows how the feelings and experiences about which she sings are those of other people of color, too.
Directed by Kwaku Otchere and choreographed by Aysha Upchurch, Kiah's "Black Myself" music video features dancer Des Polk, who masterfully conveys that message of commonality. At first, Polk stands face-to-face with Kiah as she sings, but throughout the music video, she portrays a number of different personas.
By the end, Polk has seemingly found her own inner beauty and power, and harnessed it. It's a switch that fits with Kiah's change in lyrical tone. Whereas she's at first singing, "You better lock your doors when I walk by ... You look me in my eyes but you don't see me / 'Cause I'm Black myself," by the end, she's proclaiming, "I don't creep around, I stand proud and free ... I go anywhere that I wanna go ... I'm surrounded by many lovin' arms ... And I'll stand my ground and smile in your face / 'Cause I'm Black myself."
Kiah earned a 2020 Grammy Awards Best American Roots Song nomination for "Black Myself," as originally recorded by Our Native Daughters, a quartet also featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell. Her solo version, however, offers a different take on the track: Our Native Daughters' rendition is powerful, but mid-tempo and mainly acoustic, while Kiah's solo offering amps up the melody with electric guitar and rock 'n' roll drums, and her from-the-heart delivery lays seamlessly over the swampy production.
"I never really put myself out there as a 'protest songwriter' because I’ve never been quite comfortable enough in my own skin to speak freely about my Black experience without worrying about what some trolls are going to say [on the internet]. However, I feel like this song — and others, for sure — meets a moment where, after a year of quarantine, the world has been surrounded by media and messages that have been normalizing the uniqueness of America’s Black experience," Kiah tells CMT. "I never really explicitly wrote protest music before because so much of it lacked real melody and rhythm. [“Black Myself”] works because it’s as straightforward as it is melodic and musical. This song — because of its musicality — feels like the type of protest music that I enjoy."
"Black Myself" is Kiah's first release with Rounder Records. The Chattanooga-raised musician -- who is both Black and queer and, as such, struggled while growing up in the Bible Belt -- studied in East Tennessee State University's bluegrass program and has toured with both Giddens and Yola as a solo artist.
More new music from Kiah is coming this year. Country Queer reports that Kiah has been working on a new album, Wary and Strange, since early 2018, around the same time the Our Native Daughters project began.
A Brief History of Black Country Music: