When rapper / actress / activist Queen Latifah burst onto the scene with her debut single “Ladies First,” the impact of the song created a ripple effect that continues to reverberate through the genre today. Backed up by U.K.-born expat Monie Love, “Ladies First” was an opening shot of a hungry young MC and a declaration of sorts. From her very first introduction to the scene, Latifah set off on a mission to inspire women to assertively step to the forefront in a largely male-dominated culture. Although hip-hop has had a wealth of gifted women MCs that came before her (MC Sha-Rock of the Funky Four +1, Sequence, Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte etc.), Latifah’s sharp technique, regal air and message that focused on black women’s empowerment set her apart from her peers. Songs like “U.N.I.T.Y.”, “Just Another Day” and “Latifah’s Had It Up 2 Here” saw Latifah carving out a distinctive space centered around her blackness, femininity and deep sense of community consciousness.
Nearly 30 years removed from her debut, Latifah has built a multi-faceted, career spanning, film, televison and music. Staying true to this legacy of excellence, she recently announced a partnership with Essence Magazine that will establish a $20 million dollar fund for artists of color. In recognition of these achievements, Latifah will be honored with the 2018 Marian Anderson award. Named in honor of the Philadelphia born singer and activist, the award was created in 1998 to “honor critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way”. The list of past honorees reads like a who’s who of the arts, culture and social activism: Queen Latifah will be joining the company of Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones and Philly’s own Patti Labelle.
Philadelphia Mayor Kenney will be presenting the Queen with this prestigious award on Nov. 20, at the Kimmel Center. Tickets and more information on the event can be found here.
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