We recently hosted our very own summit in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was nothing short of amazing. The summit held 1,200 women over the span of two days, with glorious speakers, contagious energy and enough inspiration to fill the emptiest of bellies. The experience was a weekend to remember, especially when speakers like Sevyn Streeter and Karen Civil graced the stage to share the real about being a black woman in the music industry.
As the two gorgeous queens took the stage, they were ready to discuss everything concerning their careers, including the ups and downs that come with it all. To Streeter, the defining moment in her career was opening up for B2K at the age of 15.
"I remember seeing that they were doing a concert and I thought, 'I want to open up for B2K,' and it wasn’t, 'I want to go watch the show.'" Streeter and her mother made it happen, which led to her being signed to Rich Girl and later touring with artists like Queen Bey. Talk about a defining moment!
As for Karen Civil, she grew up in a pretty traditional Haitian-American household and was expected to become a nurse, a doctor or a lawyer — none of which fit her or her personality. Civil also mentions not fitting in at school.
"The black kids didn’t identify with me and the Haitian kids didn’t identify with me so I learned being different very early," said the media maven.
Luckily, Civil’s mother has always been supportive of her dreams and continued to encourage her to be herself despite what was going on around her. With her mother by her side, Karen Civil became the woman she is today, and she’s grateful to have gotten this far in her career.
When it comes to the ups and downs of the industry, Streeter shared that she loves when things come to an end.
"I get excited in my life when I feel like things are coming to an end because God is so good, it just makes me excited," said the singer-songwriter. While transitions can be scary, she is comfortable letting go because she believes there’s something greater in store for her.
As for Civil, what society deems as failure, she sees as an opportunity. She recalled campaigning for Hillary Clinton and preparing her life for what was to come after Hillary’s win, which left her a little unprepared for what happened. Civil ended up taking some time off which led her down a different path, ultimately resulting in her company going public and huge companies like Amazon buying into it.
When it comes to the music industry, Streeter mentions finding herself surrounded by men and the frustration of not being seen. When she first started, she remembered making conscious decisions to never wear anything too revealing to ensure that she was respected as an artist and not seen as someone’s "girlfriend that’s just sitting on the couch."
Streeter also revealed that as a woman who is constantly surrounded by men in the industry, it’s often assumed that she’s "slept her way to the top." However, that’s not how Streeter moves around.
"I’ve never believed in that — I’ve always wanted to get my plaques and my things on my own," shared the singer.
Karen Civil and Sevyn Streeter left the crowd inspired to be their own superheroes creating their own paths which parallel and surpass those that undervalue and under-appreciate women of color and women in general.
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