Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Wanika King-Stephens' life is full of music and church.
In this episode, Wanika traces her life back to her parents' move to San Francisco from Los Angeles in the 1960s with their four-month-old daughter. Her dad's dad was an evangelist in the Pentecostal Church. It was a strict upbringing where, if her father as a young man wanted to listen to so-called music of the world, country music was the only acceptable genre.
Despite that, he grew up loving jazz and, especially, John Coltrane. And he raised his own children in that light.
Wanika's little sister sings, and the two were in a band when they were younger called Mystic Youth. Wanika played bass in the group and was the band leader. They wrote their own music but were too young to play clubs at first.
Her mother sang jazz and, along with Wanika's dad, joined with Alice Coltrane to help found the Vedantic Center, which was originally in San Francisco. Around this time, the family had moved to Visitacion Valley, a diverse, lively neighborhood that Wanika describes for us. From there, she shares stories of trips around town she took as a young girl.
Wanika wraps up Part 1 talking about her high school days in The City. And after that, as she puts it, she "was jammin' pretty hard with Mystic Youth."
Join us Thursday for Part 2 and the continuation of Wanika's life story.
We recorded this podcast at St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in May 2021.