In 2023, there are still many firsts when it comes to honoring Black people. Another first we’re seeing is an immersive book dedicated to Black women who’ve left an impact on the music industry entitled Supreme Sirens: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Music written by Marcellas Reynolds. From images of Grace Jones to SZA, Reynolds is giving an account of history in the most significant way he knows how. Through photos and interviews, the author pieced this opus together in hopes of celebrating Black women and their accomplishments.
Missy Elliott appearing on the book’s cover and being the first female rapper inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was a “happy accident,” says Reynolds over a call. The MC is the first female rapper to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Elliott marking the beginning of the robust volume feels timely, but it’s also a moment for her to receive her flowers. This also comes at the perfect time as this year marks the 50th anniversary of hip hop.
The layers within the book are notable and centered around women who are cultural mavens such as Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys, and Monica (who wrote the Foreword). Reynolds wanted this book to feel “alive” so he carefully selected the women featured in it, in addition to the photos.“The photos that I chose for this book are all about the women really performing,” Reynolds said. “There [are] a lot of photos of women on stage, of women accepting awards, because I want to normalize black women winning.”
He says within the confines of the expansive printed work readers will see Jennifer Hudson with her Oscar, which was a significant win for the singer and actress. The author shares that Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé, who were the first three Black women to win multiple awards in one evening also appear. “You’re going to see those photos of them holding five or six Grammys in their hands.” Aside from these historic moments, Reynolds also chose to relish in the beauty of Black women and included imagery of hairstyles ranging from braid styles to Afros.
Reynolds chose the term “sirens” to use for its evocative nature as “the book, like sirens, draws you in. Each page is more beautiful than the last,” he said. He wants Black women from the past to the present to be seen in their full greatness from Roberta Flack to modern stars like Cardi B. The book’s expansiveness on each type of woman is truly inspiring. The history of these women is immortalized in glossy pages with photos and words that represent their excellence—the only way Black women should be noted in history. Reynolds says, “I want you to know about Solange in the same way that you know about Sarah Vaughn.”
Pre-order Supreme Sirens: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Music on amazon.com. The book retails for $60.