One of the things that could be said for Nona Hendryx is that she constantly challenged just what a black woman had the potential to deliver in the music world. She had her beginnings with Patti Labelle and Sarah Dash of course. But she became the first black female artist to release a hard rock album on a major US label in the 70’s-something even Tina Turner didn’t do in the next decade.
After fronting her own progressive art/funk band Zero Cool and releasing a number of groundbreaking solo albums-recording with the expanded Talking Heads and working with Prince during the 1980’s? She was absent from music for 22 more years until her next album Mutatis Mutandis emerged in 2012. It was led off by the extremely appropriate number called “Tea Party”.
Beginning with a unison of horn and rhythm guitar fanfare from Jay Jennings and Ronny Drayton,the song goes into a classic Clyde Stubblefield style drum part with that percussive accent between the second and third beat. from Trevor Gale. Nona,Keyontia Hawkins and Keith Fruit provide the backup vocals as Nona rap-sings in the classic JB approach with Drayton coming on with an amplified Stevie Ray Vaughn style blues rock guitar on the refrains. Following a hard grooving sax workout from Jennings,the song closes off a gospel drenched soul-jazz organ from Etienne Stadwijk.
Not only does Nona Hendryx pull off a wonderful funk groove that totally relates the funk structure provided by James Brown,the Southern Soul of the Memphis sound with soul-jazz and blues rock instrumentation? But brings the same level of social activist preaching she’s put into matters such as LGBT rights into a song that puts the hypocrisy and high level racism of the tea party-referencing it as represented the “castration of the nation” and being the “me party”-melodically referencing the opening vocal line from Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove”. It’s a wonderful total rebirth of the strong live band funk of many colors-“people music” that addresses an urgent human rights issue with a striking combination of wit,intelligence and humor.