Photo by Jawan Scott
Guitar Gabby is no stranger to the grind. Founder of the Txlips Band, Board Chair for Girls Rock Asheville and Girls Rock Alliance, writer for several different outlets and a lawyer, Gabby has shown throughout her career that if you really want something, you go out and get it. She's inspired people through the Txlips Band, an international rock collective for Black women and non-binary people and continues to pave the way for the next generation.
We were happy to connect and talk with Gabby where we focus on empowerment, diversity, and inclusion. We touch on her musical upbringing and influences, the formation of the Txlips Band, how this band turned collective has influenced so many people, uplifting Black voices, and how "success" shouldn't define your worth.
My name is Guitar Gabby, and I am the founder of the TxLips Band (pronounced tulips)! The TxLips Band is a self-management firm and an international Black female and non-binary rock collective. A lot of what I do is centered around empowering and educating people to take control of their futures. I do this through music and performances with The TxLips Gang (the collective members), music, law, environmental education, and organizational development. I am also the Board Chair for Girls Rock Asheville, a Board Member for the Girls Rock Alliance, a writer for Guitar World and She Shreds Magazine, and the Diversity Editor for Guitar Girl Magazine. I have a full plate, but it is all dedicated to empowering the next generation.
How did you get started in music?
I started around the age of 13 when I started playing the clarinet and oboe in the marching band. Shortly after, my mom purchased me my first guitar, and I taught myself how to play. By the time I got to my freshman year of college, I started playing in other bands. I quickly learned that was not the industry path I wanted to be on, so I started my first band, Bye Bye Love.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I am influenced by a lot of things, people, and circumstances. I studied philosophy in my undergrad, and I found many connections to music and how life's lessons are exemplified through different artists' stories. Yet, it is something that anyone can relate to regardless of who you are.
Some of my favorite artists are Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Rush, Megan Thee Stallion, Big Latto, Young Baby Tate, Saweetie, Bbymutha, Rico Nasty, Mahaila, Kiana Lede, and many more. I listen to many genres, and I am influenced by them all in some way, shape, or form.
You hold many positions across various platforms that aim to empower people, and more specifically, women and those within marginalized communities. Can you talk a bit about how important empowerment is to you and how important it is to uplift others in spaces that might be designed to oppress or be exclusive for others?
I remember being in my early stages of guitar playing and not seeing anyone that looked like me in magazines, on billboards, or on the social media we had in the early 2000s (MySpace, Black Planet, etc.). I remembered thinking that I wanted to be part of the movement that would change that when I got older. It wasn't until I was an adult that I would learn of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Elizabeth Cotton, or the history of Black influences on the creation and cultivation of multiple genres of music. Gaining this knowledge heavily shifted how I would approach my 2016 onward journey in starting The TxLips Band. It took a lot of courage, education, time, energy, sweat, and tears, but I am just getting started in my part of leading the charge for Diversity and Inclusion for Black women and LGBTQ+ artists of color in this industry. I want to continue utilizing my passion for empowering the global majority. BIPOC artists contribute A LOT to the entertainment industry, and it's past time we have our flowers.
How did the Txlips Band form? In addition to the Txlips Band, you are also a solo artist and released music under both (Musicology and Prison of Life) in 2020. Can you talk about the process of creating for those and how you were able to designate which music would be curated for which album?
During my freshman year at Spelman College, someone reached out to me to play for Diamond (a former Crime Mob member). I saw an opportunity to build something bigger, so I started the TxLips Band. We would perform as "Gurl Code" when we played with Diamond, and simultaneously, we would perform as the TxLips. I saw early on that to have longevity with this band, it needed to be a collective, and it had to be built on top of a business model. Fast forward to the present, and there are over 15 women and non-binary musicians around the world in the TxLips Gang. Everyone contributes their talents, skillset, and time to performing and educating campers through our TxLips Academy music education programming. We are here to remind the world that pussy is power and that Black girls are versatile, complex, vast, and magical. We rock.
Initially, I marketed "Guitar Gabby" and "The TxLips Band" as two separate artists but shifted that model to be a more public merge in 2020. It made more sense because I write all of the original music "Guitar Gabby and The TxLips Band" performs and has on streaming platforms. But, our creative process is different from most collectives. Typically, I will add music into our google drive "The Motherload," which has access to music files, charts, song profiles, and more. Once the musician(s) learn the structure, key, and composition of the music, they bring their creative freedom to conveying their interpretation of the music. When on stage, fans get a glimpse into the melting pot of our collective styles and performance. It is truly an experience.
In looking at your musical and professional journey, you’re known to have been both a self-starter and self-manager. From the Txlips Band to law school and everything in between, you’ve continued to push boundaries and take up space and show that women have a place in avenues that are still dominated by men. Do you find that these roles have helped in creating your message of empowerment across all areas?
Yes, 100%. I had to "fall" a lot in the beginning stages of my journey. There were so many things that I didn't know then that I do now. It was hard, but I appreciate every step of what I have gone through and will go through. It has made me stronger and has given me a thick skin. One part of empowerment is showing people that the thing you thought wasn't possible is, in fact, possible. Another part is reminding people that you are also a human and fail, but there is strength in falling and getting back up. It is a reminder that we all are presented with life's bs, but the ones that make it through the storm had to fall, but they found their inner power and made it to the next elevation.
If you were to offer advice to someone who was looking to get started in music or who felt like they may not have a voice in the industry, what would you say to them?
Start with learning yourself; the things you like and don't like, the sounds you like but haven't explored yet, your strengths and weaknesses, etc. Your foundation and your peace are what will ground you through this industry. It might not sound super profound, but my experience has shown me that if you don't know who you are, this industry will walk over you. Stand your ground, and do not allow anyone to treat you differently from who you know you are. You got this!
Do you have any last words of empowerment?
Just a reminder to keep pushing! You are in charge of your future. You determine what success means to you. Your journey will be hard but don't allow others' "success" to deter you from your path. You are enough.