AUSTIN, Texas — After missing out on her first SXSW performance in 2020 and performing for a virtual crowd in 2021, Austin rapper Mama Duke finally took the SXSW stage this year.
We first caught up with Mama Duke hours after SXSW was canceled in 2020, moments before what would be her last in-person concert for over a year. As text messages poured in from friends offering condolences over this lost opportunity, Mama Duke remained positive.
“SXSW canceled? No it’s not… Look at this,” she said, motioning to a tightly packed house. “You gotta keep going, you gotta keep going.”
While the world was canceled for the foreseeable future, Mama Duke kept going. She increased her social media presence, keeping connected with fans and bringing them into a bit of her process and performing virtually with other local collaborators.
That work led to an appearance in SXSW’s first ever virtual conference in 2021. Mama Duke was given a chance to make up for her missed opportunity with a virtual performance. She said when she declined in an attempt to save that opportunity for 2022, organizers from KUTX insisted she take the virtual stage.
“They gave us an option,” she said. “I saved it for 2022 but KUTX hit me up and asked if I want to be a part of it, I was like… facts!”
As the world began to open a bit, Mama Duke hit the ground running. From rooftop performances to shows in Europe, Mama Duke was everywhere promoting her music. It’s the type of work that got her noticed by 4 Non Blondes lead singer Linda Perry as she put together her SXSW 2022 showcase, Equalizer.
“When we were putting this event together it was important for me to find local artists,” Perry said. “I just thought her energy was amazing. It felt like what I’m trying to do with Equalizer.”
The showcase was one of many performances for Mama Duke over the course of the 10-day SXSW festival. She said all of those performances and the recognition from Perry is a testament to the work she’s put in during the pandemic.
“When everybody went into hibernation you saw who was working,” she said. “Now I’m reaping the benefits of all that work.”
“The music is great, the energy is great, it fits, it works, that’s what we’re doing,” Perry said of Mama Duke’s music.
Mama Duke said she plans to take it all in and use this performance to further her career. With a co-sign from a musical legend, it shouldn’t take too long for folks outside of Texas to know the name Mama Duke.