Official Biography (courtesy of Tomeka)
Mommy found a friend....... with the strength of 10 men
the master of her world...... the demise of her faith
seed's left at home..... while Mommy chases glass
maternal love is gone...... let the friend replace the child
Mommy..... please don't let me stave
you brought me into this world, now you let me cry
Mommy Why........ must I compete with this pipe
give me love with this life......
or the Black Hood Comes (lyrics from "The Black Hood")
Tomeka Williams has always been comfortable with who she is. But with lyrics like these, you can't blame her for being a little unsure about how others would react. Indeed, with looks that could easily land her in the "Super Diva" category, a voice that could earn her Southern Gospel praise and charged subject matter, her concerns were justified. "I was nervous, like....'What are people going to think?"' Tomeka says. "You don't expect a black woman to sing songs like this nowadays and actually mean it and have genuine emotion behind it."
But one listen to the Tacoma , Washington singer's dynamic debut album, The Black Hood, and it's clear that Tomeka's distinctive soul inspired pop-rock blend serves as a perfect sonic platform for the talented singer to explore a wide range of the human experience with the type of potency seldom possessed by first time artists. She lobbies for the safe return of American soldiers on the wishful "Heroes (a letter to Obama)," deals with subjects like a drug addicted mother leaving her child alone to chase the pipe and sexual abuse by priests in the ominous title track "The Black Hood" and points out, not only how her ex became the ex, but that she knew about his philandering ways the whole time, on the bitter "Think About Me." She also passionately deals with an issue that virtually all women have dealt with (or will) -- the loss of innocence (AKA the first time) -- on the thought provoking "What She Gave."
Largely based upon personal experience and belief, these songs gave Tomeka an opportunity to heal. "I'm a happy person, but at the time there were so many frustrations that I had that I never really spoken about," she reveals. "This was my outlet to do it."
Other songs on The Black Hood provided Tomeka an opportunity to document happier topics: what she desires in a man ("Me Like") and spending time with her family ("Way Back Home," an update of the classic Jr. Walker & The All Stars song). "We talk about all these things that go on that stress us out, but we don't look at the things that give us peace," she says glowingly of the latter. "The one thing that gives me peace is my family. To be back in that hospitality and the food, I just love it. I go back to the South every year to get a good, strong dose of family."
Born in Jackson , Mississippi , Tomeka spent time in Tuscaloosa , Alabama before her family moved to Tacoma when she was in middle school. She recalls Dad playing funk and soul in one room and Momma playing some good ole Gospel in the other. The love of music came natural for the whole family.
Though she was unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest , Tomeka made a relatively seamless transition thanks to her parents, who encouraged her love of music and entered her in a number of talent shows. "When I was able to do it for the first time, it gave me a rush," she recalls. "I was like, â€˜I don't just want to do it at home.' I actually wanted to do it for real."
Tomeka kept busy on the local talent scene and got a break when she was introduced to Sir Mix-A-Lot, the pioneering Seattle rapper. The two became friends and Mix featured Tomeka on his recordings and took her on tours so she could taste the good and bad of the touring grind. All the while, Tomeka and Mix were experimenting with her sound. Given that she enjoyed soul as well as the alternative rock sound indigenous to the Pacific Northwest , they decided to combine the two and use live instruments to bring out even more emotion. The sound clicked with Tomeka and The Black Hood's substantial subject matter.
"I really hope that my songs have people talk about issues and making change within themselves," she says. "The album was very therapeutic to me and it does bring a lot of conversation to the table. I hope that's what it does, that it goes further and makes actions happen."