Jamila Woods Performs “SULA (Paperback)” on Colbert: Watch

Chicago-based soul singer offers grace and warmth after a long day of violence at the Capitol


After a long day of violence at the Capitol, led by pro-Trump terrorists and idiots, Jamila Woods offered the world some much needed grace and comfort. The Chicago-based neo-soul singer took to A Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday evening to perform “SULA (Paperback)”.

The 2020 single is inspired by Toni Morrison’s 1973 novel of the same name. Specifically, Woods uses the track to reflect on the book’s characters and how they taught her about Black feminism, intimacy, friendship, and more. She explained in a previous statement,

“It’s the first Toni Morisson novel I ever read and it inspired the first chapbook of poems I ever wrote. The novel shows the evolution of a friendship between two Black women and how they choose to navigate society’s strict gender roles and rules of respectability. On Sula, Toni Morrison wrote, ‘living totally by the law and surrendering totally to it without questioning anything sometimes makes it impossible to know anything about yourself.’ Returning to the story several years later, it gave me permission to reject confining ideas about my identity designed to shrink my spirit. It reminded me to embrace my tenderness, my sensitivities, my ways of being in my body. This song is a mantra to allow myself space to experience my gender, love, intimacy, and sexuality on my own terms.”

Feelings of both tenderness and self-love were apparent during last night’s performance, as a powerful yet poised Woods sang beneath warm lights, surrounded by flowers. Replay the performance below.

Just a few weeks after releasing “SULA (Paperback)”, Woods shared a more upbeat version of the track called “SULA (Hardcover)”. See where that tune landed on our Top 50 Songs of 2020 list.


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