Good morning. This is your wake-up call. Toronto-based singer and songwriter SATE is here to launch you into throbbing, ferocious rock ’n’ roll. Forget that her mother Salome Bey is known as Canada’s First Lady of Blues. Forget that her uncle Andy Bey is a sensitive song stylist, adored by jazz aficionados. Her closest musical kin are Living Colour and Fishbone. There’s a reason why she’s performing on AFROPUNK’s Girrrl Riot at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. She cannot be contained.

Lara Pellegrinelli: Sometimes I hear singers whose performances I’d describe as smoldering or fiery. Yours are fully ablaze. What’s the source of all the heat?

SATE: My lineage, my ancestry. I come from a long line of fire starters. I push myself to take risks, to put myself in challenging or uncomfortable situations.

LP: Is there anything you’re afraid to do?

SATE: Everything! We constantly have to listen and look at what’s going on around us. There’s a song on my album called “Feel.” It’s about ignoring my intuition, which is personified as a panther that’s beating me up. You need to listen to your gut for signs that tell you where to go and what to do and how to be. If you don’t listen, you don’t grow.

LP: How do you describe your sound?

SATE: Bluesy, raunchy soul meets dirty rock ’n’ roll. Sometimes I call it punk funk. There’s a punk attitude to it. The foundation is the blues. The foundation of all rock ‘n’ roll is blues.

LP: How did you find that sound?

SATE: My mother was very influential in my life. She sang jazz and acted in plays about the blues women. They took no prisoners. That attitude was passed down though the generations to rock ’n’ roll, to metal, to punk. When I was a teenager, I heard that passion in Fishbone, Living Colour, and Soundgarden. I decided that’s how I wanted to express myself. When I first saw Fishbone at Toronto’s Masonic Temple, I lost my mind. There was sweat on the walls. I thought, “That’s how you do a show.  Everything should be sweating.”

LP: The Black Rock Coalition was founded in the 1980s by Living Colour’s Vernon Reid among others to help reclaim rock music as the cultural product of African Americans. Do we still need to assert that black people can rock? 

LP: Tell me about the new album, RedBlack&Blue.

SATE: It was created from three EPs: one called Red; one called Black; and one called Blue. Those are the colors of my three totem animals—the robin, the panther, and the butterfly—spirit guides on a journey to understanding my relationships with my mother, my daughter, and my sister. My fans—I call them the Warriors— chose the tracks for the album.

LP: I understand that your mother is suffering from dementia.

SATE: She started having epileptic seizures in her fifties and it developed into dementia. That journey with my mother has been so challenging because my mother is a singer, my mother is a communicator, my mother is my mother. To watch someone who was all of that deteriorate and, for long periods of time, not utter a word was very hard. There’s a song on the album called “Mama Talk to Me.” The lyrics are “Know those secrets that you hold, are poisoning our souls. Mama talk to me, talk to me. Let it all just talk to me, feed me I need you to talk to me.”

LC: The songs from the album are powerful. And your band seems fearless diving into them.

SATE: They’re my boys: guitarist Kirt Godwin, bassist Alex St. Kitts, keyboardist Wade O. Brown, and drummer Tony Rabalao. They’re incredible. They push me to be full of fire because they bring fire. They have a lot of fun on stage. It gets sweaty. It gets messy. I love it. To be a woman and to command a stage standing in front of a bunch of dudes is power—on all frequencies.

  • See SATE perform live

    AFROPUNK's Girrrl Riot featuring Alice Smith, SATE, and The VeeVees at Lincoln Center Out of Doors


    Wednesday, July 27 at 7:00

    Damrosch Park Bandshell