The Marvellous Miss Baby Sol

By Jo Phillips

Strange Fruit Cabaret was developed as a response to the complicated relationship that exists between Black female performers, the public – and our bodies. With experience traversing music, burlesque and the sex industries, the performers themselves have a unique experience of the intricate problems that lie on the road from struggle to success and particularly within the context of political, creative and sexual liberation. Here one of the creatives behind the performance Black Venus shares her take on the lead performer Miss Baby Sol the Congolese-born British singer/songwriter. In a world where much is bland thankfully, we have the likes of this dynamic artist. All images Nigel R Glasgow. Words Black Venus (Black Venus is a performer and writer of the Strange Fruit Cabaret)

Miss Baby Sol is frustratingly modest. We met back in 2020 in the tentative interim between lockdowns, at the queer nightclub Dalston Superstore; Sol was hosting there. Gorgeous and witty, I nevertheless believed her to be a demure creature, as she batted her eyes beneath long lashes and giggled an introduction. How wrong I was. Not to say she can’t be shy – as I said, Sol is a whole slice of humble pie, but I soon realised that this was not the whole story. Sol is, if anything, a bundle of beautiful contradictions. We became fast friends, and the rest, as they say, is history. Apart from being a vocal genius, there are many rooms in the creative powerhouse that is Miss Sol. One of her other stupefying talents, apart from being a highly impressive and prolific singer-songwriter, is downplaying the extent of her musical and cultural influence. While she may be humble, she cannot help but be totally dazzling; once you meet her, you will never forget her.

Originally from Zaire, but a Londoner through and through, Miss Baby Sol’s influences are hard to pin down, however, there is no question that the many facets of her complex identity, and those of the people who inspire her, have formed the very foundation of her creative expression.

From child refugee to collaborating with some of the biggest names in music, Sol’s journey has not been an easy one. Raised on a heady mixture of traditional Congolese food, music and family values alongside the flavours and sounds of London’s underground music scene, Sol emerged as an eclectic performer and creative with a distinctive energy and personality. As a black woman in the music industry, Sol has had her fair share of challenges.

Yet while identity is undoubtedly a fundamental issue for Miss Sol, she is very clear that what society sees in her is, however captivating, far from the full picture. That’s what appealed to her about the Strange Fruit Cabaret, our electrifying new show (if we do say so ourselves, and our sell-out first show at the Crazy Coqs Theatre seems to agree) that looks at the history of the last century of black female entertainers who broke creative, social and political boundaries. Featuring homages to artists such as Josephine Baker, Ma Rainey, Tina Turner and Betty Davis, the Strange Fruit Cabaret is a journey through time and a celebration of a lineage of black female creatives which Sol’s collaborators and fans certainly see her a part of, even if she herself resists the honour.

The Strange Fruit Cabaret is a multi-layered experience that seeks to hold a mirror up at the audience, asking themselves serious questions about desire and identity in a sexy, humorous and light-hearted way. Miss Sol, herself multi-layered, provides the perfect foil for this – to use the word again – complex fusion.

At the same time, she is aware that in order for the importance of these stories to land properly, the audience needs to be able to relate and see themselves reflected, too. While she is adamant that she had no part in writing the show, the truth is that she is the true muse and spark behind the show’s incendiary effect. It’s from conversations around black womanhood and artistry, but identity, sexuality and freedom in general, that she has consistently had with friends and collaborators Black Venus and Mars DeLite, the writers of the show, from which much of the sentiment and dialogue of Strange Fruit was born. In fact, the title itself was inspired by one of Sol’s soliloquies on the telephone to Venus at the very inception of the show, referencing the oft-misunderstood legacy of Billie Holiday.

Miss Baby Sol knows something herself about what it means to be misunderstood; her art is her way of dealing with and overcoming the pressures life has thrown at her, but there is an abundance of hope in her writing, beautifully expressed in her latest single Everyday, a song about watching her nephew grow up in the world. For Sol, her family, including her close friends, are her world, and it’s clear her work is focused on raising up, not putting down humanity.

Fittingly, Sol appears as Kitten Lightfoot, an avatar of hers who originally made an appearance in her punk band, Soul Suckas. This is a personal reference for Sol, as well as a cultural one – while Sol is known for her sensual neo-soul and boozy, bluesy vocals, she is a rock star through and through, punk to the core, rejecting the mainstream and ever-weary of the ways in which the music industry has attempted to linearise her aesthetic, her music, but most importantly, her process.

And so, it is Kitten who takes the stage as host of the Strange Fruit Cabaret, appearing as a half-drunk, glamorous yet dishevelled vixen, in a red gown and auburn wig, a white french lace brassiere making an appearance halfway through the first act as her dress slips, as if it was willed, beneath her bust. Combining scripted dialogue with hilarious banter and of course, soulful and gut-wrenching renditions of blues and RnB classics, Sol is more than just a host, but the figure who brings the show together. Strange Fruit is a tale that weaves together forgotten threads whilst unravelling tapestries of half-truths. For Sol, this is a process that necessitates a relationship between the artist and the audience.

“If you can’t see yourself within those stories, then how do we see ourselves within reality? In telling a story, you’re allowing others to see their potential within you and vice versa. Why have you never looked at my story, when you are me?”

Miss Baby Sol

It’s this inextricable link between Miss Baby Sol and her audience, her passion for people entwined with her pure love of music, that makes her such an alluring performer. Sure, her star quality is in her rarity of talent, yet unlike many other stars she possesses a fiercely kind and genuine nurturing spiritLike a piece of strange fruit, she is delicious, nutritious yet mysterious and essentially unknowable. Just the way she likes it.

The Strange Fruit Cabaret, starring Miss Baby Sol, will be presented as an immersive experience at Vault Festival’s The Flair Ground Lates on March 11th 2023 from 10 pm to 3 am. Part cabaret, part club night, expect wild entertainment from the cast of Strange Fruit combined with DJ sets by Jeanie Crystal and Kyma the DJ.

You can purchase tickets here: Strange Fruit Cabaret | VAULT Festival. Cast, Miss Baby Sol, Black Venus in Furs, Donna Divine & Mars DeLite. Written, directed and produced by Black Venus Mars DeLite

Twitter: @missbabysol Instagram: @missbabysol, Patreon:

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