Someone just had a birthday, and rocked The Guthrie Green in the process to kick off Juneteenth. That someone is Casii Stephen, and these rockers are The Midnight Sun.
Last week the band helped kick off the June festival in downtown Tulsa with a little help from their friends Scott Cook and Sam Westhoft.
The Midnight Sun‘s percussionist, Amira Al-Jiboori, along with Stephen are not just ladies in an amazing band that often gets compared to Florence and The Machine, however, and this is not the first festival they have partaken in.
In fact, these ladies are responsible for coordinating Tulsa’s first all female music festival called MisFest with a little help from their generous sponsors and River West Parks.
The girls, the grub, and the family friendly grand scheme of it all was enough to satisfy the crowd that came to see all of the amazing local female talent.
There was a special area to take pictures, and there was a spot with statued female art that was visually pleasing and very creative.
“A platform to empower women to succeed in the music industry and support the YWCA and River Parks.” -MisFest.com
The festival was lined with food trucks, cool tents with free activities, and a wicked line up of rock and roll bands (all female led).
Al-Jiboori and Stephen have been dreaming of this vision for over a year before it came full circle.
“We started planning and organizing September 2016,” said Al-Jiboori “So a while, which is really great to see it come to fruition.”
Al-Jiboori and Stephen were new to the Tulsa scene at first. Once they came in contact with all of the female talent the city had to offer, they had their sights set on hosting an evening showcase.
“We ended up serendipitously being introduced to Ryan Howell, the events coordinator at River West, and he loved the idea so much that he pitched it to his boss as a full day festival. So that is literally how it came about,” said Al-Jiboori.
Seeing the festival live and in action for the creators of the concert was pretty awesome for Al-Jiboori.
“Very surreal to see it actually happening,” said Al-Jiboori “I love that the people that are here are kind of overwhelmed with the talent, and that was our whole point. We have these women right here in our backyard doing music, doing a phenomenal job, and here they are on this platform. So you guys should follow them, find them. That has been our hope from the beginning. Support these women through their art.”
Al-Jiboor describes her band, The Midnight Sun‘s, sound in her own words without pinning it to any specific genre.
“You can’t put it in one,” said Al-Jiboori “It’s a soul influenced pop or soul rock because Casii’s voice is so soulful, but there is a pop appeal to what she is doing.”
Al-Jiboori and The Midnight Sun have some awesome plans coming up. They have a single coming out this month (June), and they will be back out at River West Parks to perform at their July 4th celebration.
Stephen, the other brain behind the bash, is the lead singer and pianist of The Midnight Sun. She is very passionate about this project that came to life as well.
“We just wanted a place that people could come and see that there is really some great talent here in Tulsa,” said Stephen “That is the reason we started misfest, and to empower and encourage women in the music industry. Like the 11 year old that performed today, her mom just emailed us and we were like ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ and she already has a gig from this.”
Speaking of performers, let’s focus on the wicked lineup that Stephen and Al-Jiboori put together. First on the list we have an all girls band made up of three ladies with gorgeous instruments, and even more beautifully synced voices, Annie Oakley.
Annie Oakley is made of three performers. They have been a band for four years and met through catholic school. They started at the age of just 14, and started getting serious around the age of 16.
Sophia Babb, Grace Babb, and Nia Personette are all based in Oklahoma City but travel all over the midwest region for their shows.
Their sound is intermingled with a soft indie folk alternative vibe which blows over well in their all string ensemble.
“The group released a first self-produced and -recorded EP, Annie Oakley, in 2013. Since then, they’ve honed their songwriting and performance skills at venues and festivals every weekend throughout high school and college. They released their first studio album, Thought of You a God, in September 2015. Their second studio EP, Lunar Manor Sessions, was released in March 2017.” –AnnieOakley.com/about
The next band up to perform was a strong female lead named Rachel la Vonne. She has dreamy vocals over acoustics sounds. la Vonne has also been playing music since the age of 14, and often performs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Norman.
“I think it is really cool to have a group of women come together and amplify all of us, which is nice,” said la Vonne.
She takes in influence from all around her, but her main influences hold a strong presence in her music, and if she had to define a genre she would put it into two.
“Adele, Jodi Mitchell, and Nora Jones kind of vibes,” la Vonne “I guess kind of indie folk.”
When asked what we could expect from her in the future she said, “More electric.” So get stoked guys.
The next act that blew me away was a poet by the name of Jerica D. Wortham. Wortham owns her own company. She is the CEO of J Parle, a company for creatives.
“We give every voice a place to be heard,” said Wortham “We do that through multiple avenues. We have the literary magazine which features people from all over the world, it’s an open mic imprint basically. We gather artists, photographers, poets, story tellers, and we just put it all in.”
Wortham also has a live show that she hosts every month on the last Friday at Retro Grill and Bar, and she has been performing since she was 11 due to her love for writing. She shared her favorite part about MisFest.
“I enjoy the fact that it’s just women on a stage, that is just blowing my mind, and I love it,” said Wortham “My favorite part is being here, and absorbing all of this beautiful energy and love.”
Wortham has her book for sale called Beautiful and Strange, a collection of thoughts and poetry. You can purchase Wortham’s book on Amazon and follow her every move on Facebook for more amazing rhymes and flow.
This next performer had me mesmerized the entire show. She is the utter definition of rock goddess. Her voice and lyrics are enough to write out a party, and her performance style keeps the crowd captivated and on their toes. She is Kalo.
“Sexy guitar. Infectious rhythms. Smoky vocals. KALO is pure, heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll with just a tease of blues and roots. Everything about KALO is unexpected — and that’s exactly why they’re quickly catching the eyes and ears of music lovers and industry professionals alike,” -KaloBand.com/about
Bat-or Kalo is a female rock lord, and when asked what inspires her most her response was simple yet inspirational.
“Life, other musicians, beauty, sadness, and whatever is around in life,” said Kalo “Basically creativity.”
Her final words during the interview shared the same vibe, simple yet highly inspirational.
“I support music,” said Kalo “Everywhere where people want to hear music there is peace and love. So you better be a part of it, peace and love, anytime you can.”
The last performer of the night stole the show. She was the star, the finale, the Big Bang: Branjae Jackson.
Branjae has been performing since the age of six years old, and she draws inspiration from what she grew up with and knows best.
“I think it came from what I was raised on,” said Branjae “I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, a lot of Prince, a lot of musicals so I like characters and being silly and sort of breaking out into song with content of a story.”
Speaking of story, Branjae’s was made clear. I appreciate how she told a narrative on stage. Through each song, each outfit, each dance, and each tone was a difference in stages that followed a movie like experience.
“That one is called Baggage Claim, and it pretty much tells the story what happens to us when we carry around our baggage and to peel those layers off to try and find whats inside our bags,” said Branjae “Some if its dark. Some of its good.”
Branjae is a bonafide Tulsan and plays wherever there are live shows. Her future looks to drop a new single this summer, and working on surprise videos that are being planned to release soon.
Overall, the festival was a hoot. So many fun games and family friendly vibes. I am crossing my fingers for a next year.