THE FUNK QUEEN An Autobiography by Dawn Silva
- Professional Review -
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.
is with and 9 others. March, 13, 2023
It's 2:00 AM EST I got to stop reading for tonight and go to bed but this book is very hard to put down it's a page turner and I am seriously vested in this book already, every hardcore funketeer must own this book
March 8, 2023
They say, don't meet your heroes. Too late. I met today. This woman is a funk icon, a trailblazer, and a contributor to many of your favorite songs. And still, after all that she's still a sweet, beautiful human being that's not done with her legacy. What a treat!
March 6, 2023
FYI I need to Tell Airybody that Funk Queen Dawn Silva's book is a Game Changer! It is unlike any treatment of The Funk ever done! Every page leaps out at you! The stories with Sly! With Lynn, With George, with Charlie Wilson and a dozen others are priceless! The photos are off the chain and deserving of life size blow ups! And Dawn breaks the funk tales all the way down! If you've ever seen one of her shows you know Dawn's both a perfectionist and a master of the RawFunk and she does the same with this epic full color production of her epic life!
is with .
March 12, 2023
Biographies by musicians… I’ve read over 50 as I can recall, and probably much more. Some are interesting, a few are useless because the artist tries to polish the angles to please everybody therefore avoiding the ‘touchy’ subjects that everyone encounters in his life, or by not tackling painful memories that they’d rather not remember. But that’s for the shape of the story. In her recently published book, « The Funk Queen », Dawn tells the truth like it happened, wether happy sad, scary, challenging, the ups and downs all along the course of an incredibly rich personal life. Which artist do you know of, that has been a member of no less 3 major FUNK bands groups, that made Funk history, and also being part of her own band, and finally being a successful solo artist on her own ? From the top of my head I can’t name any other. Mind you, Sly & the Family Stone to start with, then Parliament-Funkadelic, and later the GAP Band, plus The Brides of Funkenstein, not forgetting her work with The Platters, and her rise as a solo artist at the end of the 90’s… There’s simply too much to talk about, that’s why the book extends all over 525 pages ! Even the die-hard fan will learn much more than he thinks, as well as gaze at an incredibly large selection of beautiful photos (many of which never seen) all spread out on high quality paper… Once read, re-read, re-re-read (!) you’ll be happy to display this beautiful work of art in your library ! Dawn takes you on a personal trip in music history, during the golden age of music and Funk in particular, when the most beautiful pages were written. Do you promise to Funk, the whole Funk and nothing but the Funk ? Well she did that (and still does!) and in this book she tells about the Funk but instead of the word Funk replace it by ‘Truth’ … That’s how honest this bio is… After saying that, I guess this has got to be in the Top 3 of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read, and a real beauty of a book. I’ve been privileged to know Dawn for years and honored that she counts me as a friend, and I am so glad that she put a final touch to this long awaited project, and tell her story ! If you’re into Funk, and music in general, you just have to read this book ! Funk Soldier #57 and book #10!