THE FUNK QUEEN An Autobiography by Dawn Silva to purchase click here
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Dawn Silva was a first-hand witness to more history and hysteria than most of us could even imagine. I privately wondered how one book could even hold it all; particularly after adding her offstage story to the brew. Well, she did it!
I don’t think I ever mentioned this to Dawn, but there were a few years around the end of the seventies when she was one of the first things I saw when I awoke every morning.
True, it was the same P-Funk poster that adorned thousands of other walls at the time, purchased from a street vendor when the Mothership touched down in London, and she was just one of seven or eight figures captured in the shot, recognizable by their costumes alone.
There she was, though, the First Lady of Funk, and I was genuinely thrilled, when she and I talked for the first time some two decades later, to learn that time had not tarnished that title in the slightest.
Her past had forever been piled up by the turntable; now her present, a debut solo album, “All My Funky Friends,” was in constant rotation on my CD player; and why? Because, as I wrote at the time, “If there was a magic to the Brides of Funkenstein, a knowing naivety, an ingenious genius, which nothing else in the P-Funk catalog came close to eclipsing, Funky Friends recaptures that same magic effortlessly, which leads us immediately to one of the great unanswerable questions of the age, who were the real brains behind those funky Brides? Silva herself still credits George Clinton, but one listen to Funky Friends and you may not be so quick to concur.”
For reasons she makes abundantly clear in this book, Dawn never did a follow-up to “All My Funky Friends.” In a strange way, however, she didn’t need to. That one album, so perfect in both design and delivery, stands not only as the brightest star in Dawn’s constellation; it’s one of those albums that illuminate the entire galaxy of funk.
That galaxy – or a major, massive part of it, comes under a lot of scrutinies in this book. Dawn was already talking about writing her story when we met in 2000, and even then, it sounded like a monstrous undertaking.
Forget about her triumphant solo career and her tenure with the Brides of Funkenstein; Dawn was an integral part of not one, not two, but three of the most phenomenally successful bands of them all.
So I’m not going to tell you what a crazy, action-packed roller coaster of music, madness, and emotion this story is then, you already know, if you don’t, you soon will. But, what I will say is that the Dawn Silva, who writes this story, is exactly the same Dawn Silva who could sit you down in a quiet room and tell you the story, in the same exact way. That’s special. That’s something that you don’t read every day. But, then again, isn’t that what Dawn Silva has always done? It doesn’t matter whether she’s on stage, on record, on a poster, or even writing an exceptional memoir. She never lets you forget that she’s just as real.
It’s one of the most honest in my-life-in-music books you’re going to read, and it’s also one of the most exploratory. Yes, there are many autobiographies, where you feel as though events just occur, one after the other, bang, bang, bang, with no rhyme or reason as to how or why. They appear here as well and with similar regularity, some good, some bad, some triumphant, some tragic. But they are preceded by cause and followed by effect, each one building up a portrait, of people, places, and things, that are themselves as real as the pages in your hand.
Dave Thompson is an English writer and author of more than 100 books in the Rock, Funk, and Pop genres. He wrote regularly for Melody Maker, Record Collector, Rolling Stone, and Goldmine Magazine.