Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Queen GodIs Interview

February 4th, 2008

Back when I was causing a ruckus in college, I became friends with a passionate, inspiring, and very talented artist by the name of Queen GodIs. She has an amazing voice, brilliant sense of creativity, and I especially enjoy her work within the hip-hop and spoken word communities. She's vegetarian and really into many social justice issues, so I wanted to introduce you to her and see what you think…

Image courtesy of: www.akintoye.com
What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Queen GodIs (pron: kwen-god-iz).
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY but I have Cherokee and African roots.
What is your background in music and performance?
I am a full time performance artist whose work combines elements of Hip Hop, Spoken Word Poetry, Theater and Soul/Alternative Music. I also focus on youth empowerment and community building. My parents always encouraged creativity and critical thinking and exposed me to a wide range of culture, music and art since a very young age. I have been writing and performing for over 20 years, but professionally for about 11.
What do you feel the role is for artists when it comes to educating people about social issues?
I believe that everyone (including artists) should strive to educate themselves first and foremost about as much as possible. This way, we can be confident and inspired to share what we know and feel with the world. Artists tend to have a larger platform with which to share and promote their knowledge and opinions. Many of us help offer a new perspective or call people to action on different issues. I believe that this exchange can be helpful and in some ways crucial. It is a privilege to have a following or simply just people who value your voice. For this reason, everyone (not just artists) should take this power seriously and use their platform/role to do some good on the planet in whatever way possible.
What's your favorite part of being an artist?
Being an artist often challenges me to be an entrepreneur out of both necessity and curiosity. This is an important challenge, and meeting it offers me balance. It also inspires me to read as much as I can, travel, check facts and want to learn many different languages. Broadening my horizons, opening my heart and really using my mind is key to having my work grow and reach new people and places. I am grateful that my art helps do this for me.
I know you've been vegetarian for a long time. Any favorite places to eat you want to plug?
Yes, I was basically raised vegetarian. Back then there weren't many options outside of the home. I used to have to tell some people I was allergic to meats so they wouldn't disregard my request for a meatless or vegetarian option. A lot people didn't take it seriously.
These days it seems like new eateries are popping up all the time. Perhaps health food is trendy now. Whatever the case, I am happy about it because we have all seen worse trends. I love the vegetarian options at quite a few places…even if they serve other things. I am listing the following places because they either have my favorite dish or a cool atmosphere to be in.
NYC: Birdies, Wild Ginger, Gobo, Caravan of Dreams…
Brooklyn: Bombay Masala, Thai Tai…
Manchester, England: Cachumba…
What would you recommend to anyone out there interested in trying vegetarianism?
Find new ways to enjoy your grocery shopping, food preparation and eating experience. It can be VERY expensive and tedious having a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle depending on where you live. Eating healthy is only one part, but I am convinced that the more we enjoy our food experiences, the healthier, happier and more vibrant we become. Who needs healthy grumpy people?

Image courtesy of: www.akintoye.com
Do you see connections between animal rights and other social issues?
I do believe that on some level, all living things are connected. How we regard living beings from the smallest to the biggest, reflects our heart, character and society. I am not a saint. I have killed far to many insects to be a saint or expert on this topic, but I absolutely think that it is important to appreciate and respect life…so I challenge myself.
I believe that we live in a world where many human beings are 'treated like animals' as the saying goes. This is unacceptable. Perhaps if more people reexamined animal rights, we could begin to figure out how the heck to improve civil rights and society as a whole.
One of our undercover investigators recently caught a worker at a Tyson Foods facility pissing on the conveyor belt which leads chickens to be hung for slaughter. Any thoughts on why companies like KFC continue to buy from these types of places?
Unfortunately, we probably don't need video proof to know that this type of thing happens somewhere almost everyday. The issue however, is a much larger conversation than just food industry. Too many people are so money and material-obsessed, that each day they care less about life…including their own. Some people just don't know any better, but the only way someone can deliberately harm, contaminate or disregard the well being of another, is if they have really been reduced to their most inhumane and barbaric state. I feel sympathy for any person or company that has gotten to that point. It means that they are sick and need help. Unfortunately the situation you cited is something that happens almost everyday at ALL kinds of companies. Putting lives in harms way in order to gain or save money is never worth it…no matter how much. The crazy thing is that being clean and healthy is not that hard or expensive. Some businesses are just lazy and poorly run.
Since you reach out to a lot of young people with your work, you're a role model to them. Are there particular lessons you want them to take away as they get older?
If there is anything that I say or do that helps improve a life, particularly a young mind, I just want people to be inspired to pay it forward. Paying it forward reflects a spirit of gratitude and growth…two things that are crucial to the maturation process.
Where can people learn more about your music and other projects?
Please check out and my music and events at:http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/queengodis and www.myspace.com/queengodisbiz. I appreciate your time, listening and support.
Any closing thoughts or questions you wish I had asked?
Whatever your convictions, personal and or global politics are, I think we all should constantly ask ourselves are we more passionate about being 'right' or being effective in the communities that we serve. If our goal is simply to be 'right' or prove others wrong then maybe we aren't truly 'serving' our communities. In this day and age, the world needs a lot of change—change that we don't actually see occur often enough.
It is important to remember that we all come from different walks of life. One person's simple truth may be rocket science to another. For example, some of the communities that I have worked and lived in have no concept of 'going green,' healthy diets or animal rights because each day they find themselves struggling to meet basic human needs like clean water, physical safety, affordable food and housing, or having anything to eat at all. I am mindful of this, and realize that perhaps the best way to share my views isn't standing on a comfortable soap box and yelling it at them…or humiliating someone if they do something that I think is morally wrong. From the poorest to the richest amongst us, people
not only need to be educated and exposed to other possibilities, but we all need to make sure that people are in a healthy environment and mind-state to even process the information being shared. This is very hard work, but crucial if we ever want to manifest the changes that we need.
Like I said, Queen GodIs is pretty amazing. Check out her work and if you're ready to take the Veg Pledge, do it up.


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