Flight Or Visibility’s latest single “My Name (Is Joanna)” is one of the latest additions to The Art of Being Queer Playlist.
Flight Or Visibility (aka Rafael Natan) is an arts organizer, educator, and songwriter who believes that visibility is a superpower whether chosen or not. Using the violin and voice together, their classical punk music reminds us that activism is love, self-care is love, and it is our duty to express these loves. Flight Or Visibility is the founder of the Boston Artists Employment Network, and the School of Arts and Social Justice at Make Shift Boston. Teaching and performance tours have brought Flight Or Visibility to Europe, Canada, South Africa, and the Republic of Georgia. Other teaching positions have included work with Boston Children’s Chorus, Boston Public Schools, and Zumix. They hold a BM in Oboe Performance and an MM in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory.
The single is a reclamation of queer power with a freak folk flair, authored and sung by Flight Or Visibility, the artistic alias of Rafael Natan (they/them).
Storytelling is key to the resilience of any group of people, and the story Natan weaves on “My Name (Is Joanna)” is one that underscores the necessity for queer and trans people to own their narratives. “There’s power in the name I choose to give,” says Natan in the opening of the song. The song then unfurls into an orchestral folk-punk shanty, taking notes from Amanda Palmer, Debbie Friedman, and Arlo Guthrie. If Alice’s Restaurant hosted a queer cabaret, “My Name (Is Joanna)” would be the shining leading number.
Speaking on the genesis of the song, Natan says: “I first started playing with this idea while ordering food after a job interview in 2018. The person taking my food order was adding masculinized terms of supposed respect after every sentence. Something like, 'What can I do for you today sir? Great choice, man, would you like anything else? Ok dude, that will be $12.95.' When he asked for a name for the order, I knew I had a rare opportunity to shut down his misgendering without calling extra attention to it, and I told him my name was 'Joanna.' It could just as easily have been Sarah or Lucretia. Joanna just happened to pop into my head first, and it worked immediately. He made a point of adding the name 'Joanna' after every additional sentence, and the sirs, mans, dudes, and bros were wiped into oblivion.”
Flight Or Visibility
The Art of Being Queer