AUSTIN, Texas – Austin-based hip-hop artist Mama Duke was scheduled to make her first appearance at SXSW 2020 as a featured artist when she learned she was canceled.
Trying to stay positive, she took the stage for a live performance the same day she heard the news. She was determined not to let her big break ruin her.
“South by Southwest is canceled? No it is not. Take a look at that, ”she said, pointing to the last crowd she would see in months. “You have to go on!”
While the live music was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mama Duke didn’t let that stop her from developing as an artist. The time she usually spent looking for stage time and performing was spent writing new music in all genres, looking for new ways to share it. She says the pandemic has given her a new sense of independence.
“It’s so much easier to work on your own now,” she said. “It’s so much easier to move around with a small team, it’s so much easier to win now.”
Mama Duke wins in areas outside of hip-hop and uses her passion for music to “dive into other pockets”. She was selected for this year’s SXSW Online 2021 event and has a guaranteed spot at next year’s personal event 2022. She was cast as the voice of Hip Hop Hippo in The Adventures of Zobey, a YouTube series by Healthy Texas Kids. She has also spent time writing for other artists and has been recognized on Instagram by artists across the country for her talents with the pen.
She said her goal now is to hunt down a “sink bag,” spreading her talents, rapping and talking, and reaching for opportunities she once never dreamed of being possible.
“I didn’t grow up with these opportunities, I don’t have anyone in my family who makes music,” she said. “I don’t even know where this could lead us, so now I look like, ‘Wow, could we do this? ‘I want to do this! “