The children of the acclaimed singing duo Womack Womack let the world into their unique family archive on Solange’s Saint Heron platform
The Womack Originals (2021)
The story begins with a minor car accident in which a van and a Rolls-Royce collide. No one is hurt, but the children sitting in the backseat of the Rolls witness firsthand how the van driver’s anger is totally diffused when she recognises their father…
At the time of this incident, nearly a decade had passed since the release of Womack amp; Womack’s worldwide hit single “Teardrops” in 1988. Yet the song remained so potent that, once the raging van driver realised the man behind the wheel of the Rolls Royce was one half of the acclaimed singing duo, she sank to her knees in tears, begging for his forgiveness. Cecil Womack’s daughters – Zekuumba, Zeimani, and Kucha Zekkariyas, now known professionally as The Womack Sisters – watched this scene, observing the overarching ability of music to transcend hostility and prejudice.
Sharing the memories of their unique childhood on Solange Knowles’ multidisciplinary platform Saint Heron, Zeimani recalled that profound revelation about her parents’ work, “In that moment I saw the power of music.”
Continuing its “world-making” agenda of building archives and recording inspirational stories, Saint Heron is an ever-expanded project, functioning as a creative agency, studio, and rich resource of archival materials. The Womack Sisters share their story as part of the Saint Heron dossiers, described by the platform as “literary and visual retrospectives of radical family and artist’ lineages”.
As the second exhibition in this digital series, The Womack Originals is a multidisciplinary experience immersing visitors into the extraordinary world of the Womack family. Including previously unpublished home videos, original photographs, memorabilia, and music alongside an evocative text (written by Emily Bernard, the award-winning author of Black is the Body), the exhibition explores the girls’ extraordinary childhood and how it was shaped by their visionary, nonconformist parents.
Life in the Womack family was never dull. After turning their back on their home in America, they travelled the world and, in amongst the demands of their parents’ musical careers, the children experienced life in Bangkok, on a sheep farm in Dublin, and a period in Nairobi, interspersed with vivid memories of long road trips through rural France.
Guided by his intuition, their self-educated father was the principal teacher in their home-schooled world, along with being the architect of their rich, adventure-filled travels as a family. “He would often feel that us being in a certain place was bad for us,” Zekuumba recalls. “Sometimes it would be in the middle of the week and he would say, I think we need to move back to such and such city in Europe.”
But their mother’s influence was equally potent. Giving birth to seven children whilst also recording, touring, and promoting five albums, Linda Womack was a figure of monumental strength and inspiration to her daughters. “I have so much respect for the way she carried herself through having all of us,” says Zekuumba. “She seemed like no matter what, nothing would break her from her beliefs. She did it with an ease.”
Having emerged from their radical and unique childhood, The Womack Sisters found themselves drawn back to their home country, where they continue the family business and make music. As witnesses to the profound therapeutic power of music, they’ve made it their life’s purpose. “I don’t think there is enough healing in music,” Zeimani tells Saint Heron. “I want to make music that makes people stronger.”
Visit the gallery above for a glimpse of some of the images from the Womack family archive.
The Womack Originals is now available on Saint Heron for a limited time