Willow on the racism her mother faced as a rockstar: “At every single show, she won them over”

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In a new interview with Granthshala, the LA artist explains how she is “continuing the legacy” of black rock with her new heavy sound.

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Willow has spoken about her mother’s experiences of racism, reflecting the attitude towards people of color within the rock music scene.

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sat down with the Los Angeles artist Granthshala For this week’s Big Reed cover feature, in which he talks about his latest album, the pop-punk-inspired “Lately I Feel Everything.”

  • Read more: Granthshala Read Larger – Willow: “Humans have never been good at accepting that people are different”

As Granthshala Written in a four-star review, the record sees the singer “following in the footsteps of her one-time rocking mother Jada Pinkett-Smith’s band Wicked Wisdom” as she teams up with the likes of Travis Barker and Avril Lavigne.


During the Big Read interview, Willow recalled becoming acquainted with the rock world by watching her mother play a live show. However, he also saw Jada being the victim of racist and sexist abuse.

“She showed me what it is really like to be a woman,” told Willow Granthshala, “There are literally no words to describe getting up every night in front of people who really hate her. She did it with so much grace and power. And on every single show, she conquered them.”

“By the end of the show, people who were calling her racial slurs and throwing things at her were like, ‘Actually, they kinda moved on.’ It really made it worth it.”

Willow on the cover of Granthshala

The musician explained that he doesn’t feel like he has anything to prove with his latest album, but added that it is “just a road to continue”.

“My mother did her job, as did many other beautiful black women [US metalcore band] Alexis White of Straight Line Stitch,” Willow continued. “It’s not about proving anything; it’s about continuing the legacy.”


After being influenced by ’00s groups like Blink-182, My Chemical Romance and Paramore, Willow was asked why it took until her fourth studio album to lean fully into the rock sound.

“It’s a mixture of a few things,” she said. Granthshala. “I had a lot of respect for the rock genre, but I didn’t know if I could give it exactly what I needed. I was specially trained as an R&B singer and I Saw the mother screaming and doing it to the fullest.

“For a really long time, I didn’t feel like I’d measure up.”

Acknowledging that there is “a certain level of reckless abandonment” within the reef, Willow said: “In particular, I think that any minority in America who has historically experienced the horrors of persecution, it is our Something inside that makes us want to growl a little and scream.

“I think pop-punk is a really beautiful expression of that,” she said.

Elsewhere, the star described “Lately I Feel Everything” as “an amalgamation of everything the 13-year-old was made to do”.

“It’s not just about crazy guitar riffs or driving drums,” she said. “The anger, the darkness and the mood were very important to me.”

elsewhere GranthshalaIn a Big Read cover feature, Willio recounts how Radiohead rekindled his passion for music, hosting Red Table Talk with his mother Jada and grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Norris in what it means to be Gen-Z’s spokesperson , how she views Lavigne and Barker as “pop-punk royalty”, what it’s like to live in the constant glare of the media, and looks forward to their upcoming London headline show.

Willow is set to perform at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on Thursday (December 9). Next year, she will open for Billie Eilish at select US shows on her “Happier Than Ever” world tour.

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