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Meet Mama Duke in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mama Duke.

Mama Duke, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was raised in a small town with more cows than people, 5% black people, graduated with three other black people that were either my cousins or my cousin’s cousins! Crazy, right? Shoutout to my hometown Palacios, TX. After high school, I almost enlisted in the Army. Damn near did everything but swear in. I ended up moving to Houston to pursue Photography at the Art Institute cause photography was always something I was/is good at. I went to AIH for about a year and a half and found out photography was more of a like than a love. Now that I can look back on it, I 100% knew that music was/is a love for me. I immediately dropped out of school once I started hearing more about the music scene in Austin. I had always heard that it was the live music capitol of the world and I felt like my dreams were there. Turns out they are.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, I’m a half black/half Mexican, queer female that’s legally married and just turned 32. Lol! You tell me! Haha, Nah but I think considering all that I have stacked up against me I’m doing better than most. People believe me when I rap. That’s all I can ask for. Of course, it was hard in the beginning. I can’t wait for the day that I can elaborate on my story and give it the proper breakdown and timeline it deserves but I’ll say this. It’s the year 2020. All the things that used to so call “hold people like me back” is now separating us and elevating us into positions that are respected. I’m booked. Probably booked more than half the people in my city. What’s more beautiful than that?

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
What sets me apart from others is that there’s no gimmick. There’s no curtain you can pull back and see people ironing kinks out for me. I’m an independent artist. I book my own shows, I lock in my own sponsorships, I do my own graphics, I do my own flyers when I have shows and I do everything else it takes to be self-sufficient. I’m a musician but it doesn’t stop there for me. Ask anyone, I’ll pull up to your show if you need footage (photography/videography) or whip up custom merch if you need it (buttons, stickers, etc.) I’m everything. I’m everything because there isn’t one thing that I’m completely happy doing. They all satisfy different parts of me.

What were you like growing up?
Well, if you had a copy of my high school yearbook, you’d be able to see a picture of my goofy ass under “Class Clown” and “Most Spirited”. I was always involved, always making people laugh and always rapping. I have pictures and video of me in high school (10+ years ago) holding a sprite bottle, making beats with it and rapping with people crowded around me listening. It’s wild to look back and see that this shit is embedded in me and that maybe just maybe I was meant to do what I’ve been doing since I was 14 years old. I’ve always been who I am right now. An outspoken female that tells it like it is even if it makes you uncomfortable. Somebody gotta tell yo’ ass.


Contact Info:

Image Credit:
MORT (Morty Zapata)

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