Don’t let her petite frame fool you, her voice stands tall. Tarriona “Tank” Ball (@thinktank2015) and her crew, The Bangas, run New Orleans. Don’t believe me? Come to New Orleans on any given weekend and you can find the band performing to a sold out, diverse crowd at Blue Nile, Hi Ho Lounge, Gasa Gasa, Tipitina’s or at an exclusive black tie event, if you’re invited. Tank and The Bangas (@tankandthebangas) have spectacular local success, but their presence is being demanded abroad and over the London Bridge. Following their much anticipated performance at Essence Festival on Saturday, the group is hopping on a red double decker bus to Trafalgar Square for a three month stay in England. Before they leave I had to ask the “Rhythm of Life” singer and poet, who first appeared on the Essence Fest stage as an MC for an event two years ago, how she feels about performing this time around and Essence’s love for New Orleans.
Black N Bklyn: Who are you looking forward to see perform?
Tank: Missy, Kendrick Lamar, Mali Music, Tweet…But I can’t see everyone I want to see because I leave the next day after my performance. [Sunday.]
BNB: Including your band, Tonya Boyd Cannon, Dee-1 And Trombone Shorty, do you think Essence is starting to embrace local artists more and include them in Mainstage and Superlounge artist lineups?
Tank: In the artistic realm, yes. Because that means you are watching the people and that means they have their ear to the ground about the people that’s really moving in New Orleans and if you’re going to pick someone, those are some really good people to pick. My first year at Essence was hosting. I had just put out an album and they called me. It was the biggest honor ever. That’s what I mean though. You get to see the artist not only on the stage [singing] but working, truly, and that was really cool because we have so many great MC’s here and this is our home.
BNB: What do you think of when you hear #bringthelove?
Tank: I think of no negative hashtags to counteract that. The Internet can be so harsh! Leave that crap at home. If you going to bring anything, bring love.
BNB: How do you feel about Essence Fest’s Day of Service initiative in commemoration of what happened here in New Orleans nearly ten years ago?
Tank: I think that’s majorly positive. Stuff like that has to be broadcast because it’s so quick to broadcast all the nasty things that’s going on. They [Essence] come here every year and they truly obviously love New Orleans. But I think it’s awesome to bring your band aids for healing as well because we’re still a broken city.
BNB: You’re obviously big here in New Orleans. Now you’re about to go abroad for three months in London. How does it feel when you go to other cities and people know who you are?
Tank: It don’t even be me necessarily, it’s when they know my music…that’s a feeling that’s unexplainable. I’m always surprised. I always smile, huge. I always want to meet them after my show and give them a hug. It’s completely worth it.