Sacramento native Dawn Silva chronicles funk career in new memoir Chris Campbell Wednesday, June 28, 2023 | Sacramento, CA Listen / Update RequiredTo play audio, update browser or Flash plugin. Courtesty of artist Funk vocalist Dawn Silva’s moniker as the “Funk Queen” didn’t come out of nowhere — her legendary stints with Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Gap Band and as the frontwoman of The Brides of Funkenstein, she’s rightfully earned her crown. She recently added “author” to her title after releasing her memoir “The Funk Queen Dawn Silva: An Autobiography.” CapRadio’s Chris Campbell spoke with Silva to learn more about the book and look back on her career. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Interview Highlights On Silva’s high school’s musical group Windsong Growing up in Sacramento, we would have a big talent show. It was the highlight of the year. I would rehearse every single day with the group Windsong. We didn’t get too far [in the industry] but we won a ton of talent shows. On her experience with the famed soul collective Sly & The Family Stone as a background vocalist When I got with Sly, I didn’t even know how to hold a microphone. The most significant thing that I learned from Sly is the “perfect vocal blend.” The first session I did with him, I was nervous and singing at the top of my lungs over the other [background vocalists]. The lesson he taught me was to blend with the unit and sound like a one-chord structure. Most people think singing background is simple, but it's a very complex art form. On joining George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic Music empire My first introduction to Parliament Funkadelic was when they toured with Sly & The Family Stone. We were the guest artists, and the show went extremely well. When Sly left the tour, George Clinton was impressed with our vocal blend and asked [Silva and background vocalist partner Lynn Mabry] to do sessions with his acts. The first song we sang was “Get Up for the Down Stroke.” … George had a different plan in mind for Lynn and I. Unbeknownst to us, he started putting things together for a group he called the “Brides of Funkenstein.” He had already approached Atlantic Records to do a deal and told us during a recording session. I was shocked. On Silva’s experience with the Brides of Funkenstein The single “Disco to Go” from the first album sold 300,000 [copies] in the first month of release and caught everyone off guard. The sophomore album was heavily played by the Detroit DJ the Electrifying Mojo, who had a lot to do with the lead single being a success. It became a funk anthem. Rolling Stone magazine would later rank [the album] in their “Top 50 Coolest Albums of All Time.” The Brides were versatile and played in numerous music genres such as funk, rock and new wave and could fit into almost any genre. … As with everything that’s great, the mothership [The Brides of Funkenstein] had a bumpy landing. As key musicians and artists started to leave the group, it was tantamount to the ingredients [of a recipe] changing, and so did the taste. I eventually joined the Gap Band [as a background vocalist]. I had known them from when they toured with P-Funk. The Gap Band emulated the Brides of Funkenstein’s sound, so I agreed to go on tour with them. On stepping away from the industry and eventually starting her own record label [I] stepped away from the music industry in the 1990s. [It] was my way of taking a break and regrouping. My mom got sick, and I decided to leave Los Angeles and move back to Sacramento to take care of her. I stayed under the radar from 1992 to 2000. … I decided to start my own record label. I had shopped my album “All My Funky Friends” around to various corporate labels, but they told me that there was no market for funk. It seemed that funk was being systematically eliminated as it wasn’t being played on the radio. My album had all the derivatives of the funk sound, but the industry wasn’t trying to market it or sign me. When I started my own label and released the album, it blew up. It led to licensing deals all over the world — United States, Canada, Holland, Japan, etc. I was now in the record business [as a label head.] On her autobiography I wrote the book so that young women of any color could be prepared for a road that can be brutal. The music industry has its highs, but the lows are very low. I hope to empower young women to make better-informed decisions on how to read a contract and know their publishing rights and their legal rights. A lot of these contracts are set up to benefit the corporate labels. You pretty much become a slave to the industry as many artists sign away their rights. I also hope the book gives women artists the courage to set up, write their stories and never let anyone tell them that they can’t achieve their dreams. When someone tells me I can’t do something, I love to prove them wrong.