Sistas in the Pit
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Sistas in the Pit


Band Rock




"Pop Beat/ SF Chronicle"

Much-loved DJ Anita Lofton was playing guitar in a rock band and spinning Jane's Addiction records on a college radio station in Arkansas when a friend turned her on to house music -- and changed her life forever. After college, Lofton headed west, arriving in San Francisco just as the city's house scene was taking root. Inspired by DJs such as Pete Avila and Nikki Rivera, she traded in her guitar for turntables and made her DJ debut in 1993 at Page Hodel's now-legendary Box night at the old Kennel Club on Divisadero Street.

But Lofton recently got back in touch with her inner rock chick. When she's not bringing a packed dance floor to its knees, you'll find her rocking out with her band, Sistas in the Pit, which she started with local hip-hop-soul artist Kofy Brown and drummer Ieela Grant. Together, the ladies say they they're out to change the face of the boy-dominated rock scene with a sound they describe as "sexy rock, black-girl style." Sistas in the Pit plays Thursday at Bottom of the Hill.

- Bill Picture Sunday January 16, 2006

"EastBay Express Critic's Choice Sept 29- Oct 5th 2005"


Few things in this world are more enticing than proud-black-woman hip-hop, but proud-black-woman rock definitely comes close. Enter Sistas in the Pit, the new, funky bitter-chick outfit that combines the talents of soul singer Kofy Brown (who holds down bass duties), guitarist and DJ Anita "Pa" Lofton, and drummer Ieela Grant. They perform Sunday at Berkeley's La Peña along with local feminist artists Invincible, Tru Bloo, Tré Vasquez, Piper, Climbing Poetry, and Maria Poblet. Commemorating the release of a new compilation The We That Sets Us Free, this concert kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and costs $10-$25, sliding scale. Proceeds benefit Justice Now, an organization that supports women prisoners. (R.S.)
- Erick Arnold & Rachel Swan

"Pit Crew"

The known quantity of local rock powerhouse Kofy Brown has morphed. Exposed to the harsh rays of guitarist Anita Lofton and drummer Ieela Gant, this energy source may have become even stronger. Audiences should be warned that Sistas in the Pit have been repeatedly described as a band able to "blow you away." And organizers of the Coming UP, Coming OUT! festival are creating a strong gravitational field around the trio, using phrases like "sexy rock ... black girl style." Try to resist at 8 p.m. (also Oct. 16) at the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th Street), S.F.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
SF Weekly October 2004
- SF Weekly

"Unchain my rock"

Oakland's Sistas in the Pit shout out to black girls with guitars.

By Jana Rogers
CONTRARY TO APPEARANCES at most rock shows, rock 'n' roll is, at its origins, a black art form. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, Etta James, and Jimi Hendrix, to name just a few, were pioneers in the genre, and in more recent times, artists like Fishbone, Bad Brains, Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def, and J'Davey have been keeping up the tradition. Lately black rock 'n' roll groups are making a resurgence: Living Colour recently finished a new album and is currently touring, and with the self-release of their debut, The Missing Piece (Sitp), Oakland's Sistas in the Pit are also, as bassist Kofy Brown said, "taking it back to the roots" of rock.

And take it back they have. Sistas – also including guitarist Anita "Pa" Lofton and drummer Ieela Grant – have been making music individually since they were very young: Brown is a well-known R&B and soul artist and Lofton an internationally renowned house DJ. "I've been a rocker since I was nine and have been DJing since I was twelve," said Lofton, sitting with her bandmates outside a popular coffee shop on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. That experience shows on The Missing Piece, a solid rock release that reflects the three women's deep musical knowledge and diverse influences, which range from Chaka Khan to Nirvana.

There's a hardcore track, "Liar"; the blues-inspired "Walkin' Cane"; an acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock tune, "Open"; and then there's "Beautiful," which is just that. Its slow, rhythmic, and sexy sound showcases how in the pocket these three musicians are, after playing together for only two-and-a-half years. Other songs, like "Black Girl," demonstrate how unified the Sistas are on the subject of the invisibility of black women in rock music. Amid heavy guitars and a passionate attack, Brown asks in sultry tones, "Black Girls rockin' the microphone / Ain't got no place to call our own / Just got to do what we feel inside / Should we stay or should we run and hide?" The triumphant answer is, "Black girls in America / We're going to rock 'n' roll."

Sistas recently performed at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, which brings together female players from all over the country, and, as Brown told me, they realized "there are lots of sistas in the pit," and it's important for them to come together. In the interest of sister solidarity, the band contributed a song to The We That Sets Us Free: Building a World Without Prisons (self-released), a new benefit compilation for Justice Now (, an Oakland legal teaching clinic that helps female prisoners work toward better health care access, parental rights, and sentence mitigation. The project inspired "Breathe" as well as The Missing Piece's hidden track, "Women on the Inside," which begins with the sounds of police sirens and a deep, funky bass line and tells of the dangers faced by incarcerated women (the fastest-growing portion of the prison population). Eventually Sistas would like to play for female prisoners to share their message and offer support.

They obviously have a lot to impart. Leaving Sistas, I came away with the distinct impression that the band is unique – although they reach back to the traditions of black rock 'n' roll, they also have a real passion for social justice. They've distinguished themselves as musicians and women to be reckoned with. They certainly live up to the lyrics of "Black Girl": They're "Black girls rockin' your world / Black girls rockin' the mic / Black girls rockin' your space / Black girls rockin' through time / Black girls rockin' ya'." It might seem like hype, but after listening to their album multiple times, I think they might be one of the best rock bands coming out of the Bay right now. What is undeniable is the fact that they are providing a missing piece in the Bay Area's music scene.
Sistas in the Pit play with Banyan Sat/17, 9 p.m., 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF. $15. (415) 970-9777,

- San Francisco Bay Guardian


2005 -"The Missing Piece" self-released album (#1)
2010 - "Sistas in the Pit -Live 2010"
2011 - "It Gets Better" self-released single in support of the Trevor Project



Sistas in the Pit are Ieela Grant on drums, Kofy Brown on bass, and Shelley Doty on guitar. This unique sound is being expressed from the power of the feminine.