Malina Moye: Five Acts of Legend

As a lefty Strat-slinging guitarist, Malina Moye often draws comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Gales, but as someone who writes songs about personal empowerment and shreds like nobody’s business, she is very much her own person.
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• She has performed for the Queen of England and became the first African-American woman to play the National Anthem on electric guitar at a professional sporting event. Malina Moye often draws comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Gales for being a lefty Strat-slinging guitarist, but as a female guitarist who writes songs about personal empowerment and shreds like nobody’s business, she is her own person. And in that way, she’s been breaking new ground for guitarists since having her own breakthrough in 2014. “I think good songs come from the truth and three chords,” she told RockandBluesMuse.com. “I like to tell my truth or someone else’s truth. It’s got to be honest and real.”

• The Minneapolis native was born in 1984 to musical parents. Her father is bassist/rhythm guitarist George Moye, a.k.a. Dr. Funk, and her mother sang backup for Tina Turner. “My mom says her water broke when she was performing onstage, and I was born soon after,” Moye told GP in 2015. The left-handed guitarist’s journey began in earnest at age six, when her father gave her a right-handed guitar. “I totally wasn’t feeling it,” she told GP. “So when he left the room, I took that right-handed guitar, flipped it upside down, and said, ‘Now this works!’”

• Moye made her recording debut in 2004 with her song “Alone.” Released on her own WCE Records label, the track put her R&B vocal chops to the fore, but her 2009 album, Diamonds & Guitars, emphasized her incendiary fretwork and drew attention to her ample talents as a player. Moye spent the next few years building her name through live appearances. In 2010 she performed the National Anthem in front of 80,000 football fans at a Vikings/Cowboys game, and two years later joined the Experience Hendrix Tour. Moye was on hand to play Chuck Berry’s “Stop and Listen” at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute concert to the legendary guitarist, and she participated in Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th Jubilee celebration by performing “God Save the Queen.”

• Moye’s breakthrough came with 2014’s Rock and Roll Baby, on which she fused rock, blues, soul and funk, showing the influence of both Hendrix and Prince while establishing her own signature style. While the disc drew attention for featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame funk legend Bootsy Collins, in the end it was Moye’s show entirely. The album brought her big TV appearances and the title “Queen of Funk Rock” courtesy of Asia’s number-one guitar magazine, Gitar Plus. In 2018, Moye released her third album, Bad As I Wanna Be, placing the focus on her songwriting, much as she emphasized her guitar playing on Rock and Roll Baby. Summer 2019 saw her release the album track “Enough,” a song that emphasized personal empowerment and individuality through the message “we can be the change we need.”

• In addition to her occasional work in films (she’s made appearances in the 2018 comedy-drama The Samuel Project and 2019’s Burn), Moye’s activities outside the field of music include the Drive Hope Foundation, a nonprofit she co-founded to help disadvantaged youths who lack resources achieve their career opportunities. The foundation inspires young people to see greater options for their lives through activities such as having role models speak in classrooms and providing funding for education programs and scholarships. “I feel I am where I am because someone instilled knowledge into me, and that’s part of the process,” Moye says of Drive Hope’s work. “Simply put, it’s imperative that everyone find that one thing they’re passionate about and go for it.”

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