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FEATURE: a flashmob fight for change - a chat with artivist KANIKA [50 years since Roe V Wade]


Cover image via Vanity Fair: Students and supporters in the​ Washington Square Park founta​in rallying for abortion right​s during a day of student walk​outs calling for the protectio​n of Roe v. Wade in NYC, on Ma​y 12 2022 | BY MARK PETERSON/REDUX.


In 1969, a 25-year-old single woman, Norma McCorvey using the pseudonym "Jane Roe", challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas - forbade abortion as unconstitutional, except in cases where the mother's life was in danger. Ms McCorvey was pregnant with her third child when she filed the case, and alleged that she had been raped. But the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth. In 1973 her appeal made it to the US Supreme Court, where her case was heard alongside that of a 20-year-old, Sandra Bensing. By a vote of seven to two, the court justices ruled that governments lacked the power to prohibit abortions, and judged that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Mississippi's ban on abortions and in doing so, it has effectively ended the constitutional right to an abortion for millions of US women. Individual states are now able to ban the procedure again, with the universal expectation that half of the country is expected to introduce new restrictions or bans imminently - removing basic human rights synonymously.

On June 25th, 2022 Kanika protested in front of the Supreme Court- 1 day after Roe V Wade was overturned. With bull horn and 4 year old daughter in hand, she marched and sang ‘It’s My Body’ which caught the attention of Australian 10 News First journalist. The real life protest was taped in front of The Supreme Court where she was also interviewed for the news channel.


Over the past decade, Kanika has been known as the front woman of rock/SKA band The Upstarters - now know as an activist curator and cultural spokesperson, KANIKA is a musician native to Baltimore, who deeply resonates with the injustices occurring on our doorstep. Previously released as a neo-soul track in 2022, ‘It’s My Body’ was one of the highly anticipated songs teased from her 3rd solo album, coming Spring this year. Invoking and facilitating conversations around important societal themes, Kanika’s work truly embodies the meaning of unity, female empowerment, and freedom of expression.

Recently introduced on network TV from United States Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt-Rochester - proudly serving Delaware, Kanika made an appearance on DETV’s New Year’s Eve special, an African American owned and operated TV network airing on Comcast channel 28. Not her first political statement in protest, Kanika sang for over 24 hours straight in Washington DC, to break the record of the longest filibuster and demand the Senate pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Also a finalist in the Songs For Good national writing contest during the 2020 election cycle, her "Vote in 2020" soundtrack for democracy became one of the top TikTok sounds used by voters across the US - contrasting from The Real Housewives of Potomac to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. A career day frequent flyer and TED Talk speaker, Kanika advocates for economic equality and has assisted over 1,000 unemployed Baltimore residents in receiving workforce training to acquire a healthcare career.

Despite centralizing upon heavy topics, such music proves technically beautiful and atmospheric. Known for layering up-tempo dance tracks with soulful ballads over rock guitar, Kanika proves undefined by genre with the recent release of ‘It’s My Body’ CLUB REMIX; an inspiring collaboration with G.U.M nominated producer Josiah Bassey who contributed to Kanika’s single as a member of the vocal production team.

[Remix produced by John Gordon; White Collar Music]

Coupled with thought provoking lyricism through a dance beat and powerful vocals, this party track encompasses a melodic narration of lived experiences from the United States as we approach an important time: January 22nd marking the 50th Anniversary of Roe V Wade. To signify this momentous occasion in Feminist politics, Kanika shall be performing on the 22nd of January in Kingston at an event by Stories For Choice, accompanied by trailblazers in the fight for healthcare autonomy like V (formerly Eve Ensler).

“Although a very political message in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling to end a woman’s right to choose, It’s My Body was always intended to be a female protest anthem that you could bop to. The original afrobeat release caught the attention of many DJ’s and dancers from around the world. In seeing their enthusiasm, I felt doing an EDM dance remix would further heighten not only the message and energy of the song but create powerful moments where dancers could use their body via dance as a form of protest.” KANIKA

Well-established in the proactive grassroot subculture, Kanika aims to change the world with the lyrics of her music, and to be the type of artist that can create unity through song. Hailed as a high energy performer with a catchy spark, Kanika is an accomplished singer, songwriter and “Artivist” who uses her gift of music and voice to uplift the world and inspire awareness and social change. Incorporating this into the release, she has mobilised a Flashmob movement to recognise the monumental meaning and community impact behind January 22nd. Partnering with popular K-pop choreographer, Tinako, to host the ‘It’s My Body Dance for Choice’: A Flash mob of 17 Asian youth dancers ranging in age from 8-16. All dancers participated because they believed in the message of It’s My Body and that it spoke directly to their feelings and beliefs! The dance video is slated to go live on Jan 22nd to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roe V Wade, and Kanika is taking the flash mob campaign to the masses.


How has it been like diversifying genres with the club remix of ‘It’s My Body’?

The original song was afrobeat, so as an artist that likes to defy genre stereotypes, it just made sense to create different versions of the song with the song’s producer and co songwriter, John Gordon. Given the importance of the message we wanted to get It’s My Body out to more audiences. Growing up in a House and Club music hometown (Baltimore, MD), I love to dance and the goal of It's My Body was to give people something to dance to, despite its political messaging.

It has been very exciting to see the dance community embrace the song, by creating dances and posting across SM.I am getting ready to go to LA to shoot a flash mob dance and have been working with an amazing choreographer and young female dancers who have expressed how much the lyrics of the song means to them. I invite everyone to dance with us, by learning the “It’s My Body Dance for Choice” on my website This project is being performed in LA, Baltimore, DC to commemorate what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade this year, if it was not overturned.

What is the cultural message and lyrical meaning behind the single?

“It’s My Body” is a protest anthem about a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. Culturally when we look at history, many laws have been created to control individual freedom - i.e. the enslavement of African Americans, the annihilation of Native Americans, putting Japanese Americans into endearment camps, and NOW a woman’s body. So what or who is next?

Lyrically this song questions why laws are not passed around critical issues affecting humanity such as gun violence, climate change, and voter rights. In defiance the song boldly states, a woman’s body should not be used for political control. True democracy is a woman being able to choose not only what to do with her body, but also her future.

Why is music important to political conversations?

I believe words are power and music can have a message. I create music because I believe in the power of music to amplify social change. Martin Luther King said it best, “Songs are the soul of a movement”. Music is a mobilizer, a connector, a unifier, and is the soundtrack to our lives. The role artists’ play is also a very important one.

We have the power to not only amplify good but use our words to fuel participation in social movements. Now more than ever democracy is on the front line and messages like It’s My Body are as important today as were the protest songs in the 60’s.

How would you urge people to help make a change?

Although making change sounds like hard work, it’s actually very simple. We can make change by just being kinder. Respecting one another. Getting involved in community activities or supporting a cause you are passionate about. Paying it forward. All to say change only requires people to have the courage to show up!

Do you think the music industry can do more to help advocate for change?

The music industry plays a significant role in how artists create music. Too often we are told that if a song is not commercial, then it can’t be played or go viral. The truth is the public is looking for diversity in music and artist selection. It's not uncommon to hear complaints about the identical imagery, lyrical and vocal stylization of popular artists. When an artist comes out with music that doesn't glorify the common themes we typically hear in music- it's harder to get that song out to the masses via radio. These are usually not the artists that are nominated for a Grammy even if they have commercial success. This control of the artist's voice and how it's used to silence music that advocates for change must stop and the music industry is the catalyst of this change.

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