Vivien Goldman plays at Rhizome
Credit: Alexesie Pinnock

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Vivien Goldman

 In 1981, pioneering UK music journalist and occasional backup singer Vivien Goldman released her first record, Dirty Washing, a three-song effort showcasing her distinct soprano and feminist lyrics supported by echoed reggae rhythms and postpunk guitar. This critically acclaimed limited release reflected the times with mentions of unemployment, police brutality, and skinhead violence, and showcased the cutting-edge playing of Aswad bassist George “Levi” Oban. Over the next few years, Goldman recorded a few more songs, but eventually tired of the industry and switched gears. Since then, she has created a global music television show (Big World Café), authored numerous books on reggae, punk, and Bob Marley, and has taught music courses at New York University and Rutgers. Lecturing earned her the nickname “the punk professor.” Now, 40 years after her first record, Goldman has released a debut album, Next Is Now, produced by Killing Joke bassist and producer Youth. Why now? Goldman told City Paper that the success of Resolutionary (Songs 1979-1982), a retrospective collection of her music, as well as Pitchfork’s inclusion of her 1981 song “Private Armies” in its 2016 article “The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs,” led people to ask her to perform. She decided more material was needed. Youth, who she’s known since the 1970s when they went to all-night after-parties, created foundational music tracks melding postpunk, dub, and pop for Goldman’s lyrics and melodies. Recorded pre-COVID, the album touches on Brexit, immigration issues, and, on the title track, how “the memories of certain people” have you “wanting to manifest them in your own life in some way.” Goldman notes that in many ways life is even harder now than it was in 1981, but her songs carry a tinge of positivity because “you have to hang on to your hope and happiness somehow … otherwise you could be dragged down and bogged down and never achieve anything.” Vivien Goldman performs with Dunia & Aram at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 at Rhizome DC, 6950 Maple St. NW. $5–$20.