“We know a queer black woman made rock and roll,” the author Casey Gerald boomed onstage at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. The historic vaudeville theater in Flatbush, Brooklyn was filled to capacity on Sunday, all cramming in the gilded space to view Kerby Jean-Raymond’s third Pyer Moss fashion show.
Titled “Sister,” the spectacle included not just 68 jaw-dropping pieces, but a full band and chorus of 71, called “The Pyer Moss Tabernacle Drip Choir Drenched in the Blood.” (“And yes, you have to say the whole name,” Jean-Raymond commanded on social media.)
“Sister” was shorthand for Sister Rosetta Tharpe, also known as The Godmother of Rock and Roll, also also known as “the original soul sister.” This presentation was the final in a trio of must-see (or stream) shows called “American, Also,” which tell the under-covered history of black people’s imprint on our country’s pop culture. In 2018, Jean-Raymond studied the influence of black cowboys and held a show at the Weeksville Heritage Center, a site that preserves the legacy of one of America’s first free black communities.