Camil Williams is a recent transplant from Chicago just trying to settle into the Atlanta vibe. As a world traveler and troubadour, she is more than experienced in her art. I’m putting emphasis on the word ‘art’, because Williams is more than just a poet, she is an artistic powerhouse and renaissance woman.
She has performed and presented art workshops at a host of conferences, high schools, and universities; locally and abroad, as part of the women centered activist-performance duo, AquaMoon. Using Hip Hop Feminism as a tool for creating awareness and dialogue on issues that marginalize and affect women of color, the duo co-authored several choreopoems, including Love Does Not Hurt and Aqua Beats and Moon Verses Vol. I.
Williams has also authored and released her debut, Butta to Fly: a collection of poetry, art and music (2007). Her artworks have been featured in the Ascend: Live Art and Jazz Showcase and the Humboldt Park Art Exhibit in Chicago. She’s appeared in several short and full-length films, including The Lies We Tell and Secrets We Keep and the hit web series, Between Women. She also writes and produces music for commercials, films and stage productions.
I met Camil Williams one evening as she featured at Java Monkey. The stage is small and big at the same time. William’s style oozes through the audience like notes of old jazz ballads that pulse in the recess of the black subconscious.
William’s art is multi-faceted. Her art isn’t defined by any one form, because she seeks to reach as many as she can with her voice. Despite, Williams has all the soul and stylings of an engaged poet, and it oozes into all of her work. Whether its her graphic design work that delves into the Afro-futuristic side of the black experience, or how her music reflects the best parts of the jazz and blues age, her projects share an undeniable flow. Her art tends to be social-political, loving, and hip-hop related. Hearing pieces in tribute to Tupac are both unexpected, but deeply appreciated in the typical hip-hop/Spoken landscape.
“Create what matters. What weighs heavy on you. Somebody out there feels the same way and needs to hear what you say. Never do art just for money. Its got to be for the love, not for the money.”
Camil Williams is on a mission to create the ‘flyest interpretations’ of life. To her, “Poetry is a way to intersect different ideas in a short form. Its more accessible than books are. Its a part of activism, getting ideas out.” “People learn differently. Movement, sound, and lyric. I want them to come together and give you a sense of the time. It is important to touch everyone.”
Camil takes her inner activism and focuses it into “Using art as a weapon — a weapon for empowering, uplifing. Something they might not get on Fox or CNN. When I speak, I want it to be different.” “Most of my work has to have meaning. Has to be useful. Art should be more purposeful.”
“My style is rooted in hip-hop, jazz, funk. Very musical.” “My inspirations include Nina Simone and Sojourner Truth. I watched [Soujourner]’s “Ain’t I a woman” speech. Every word was powerful. My parents taught me history. My parents are artists. My brother is an artist. Its living a legacy”.
Williams holds this family and cultural legacy deep within her. This ideology shows in her belief that one must “Create what matters. What weighs heavy on you. Somebody out there feels the same way and needs to hear what you say. Never do art just for money. Its got to be for the love, not for the money.”
An inheritor of an Afro-punk tradition and an Afro-futuristic philosophy, Camil Williams is a name to know for the progressive poet and social revolutionary. Check out her written, spoken, and artistic works and be prepared to be impressed.
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