Singer-songwriter Tami Neilson offers a swaggering celebration of womanhood in her new “Big Boss Mama” video, released as International Women’s Day is being observed around the globe.
In the clip, directed by Neilson’s brother Todd, the Canadian-born, New Zealand-based singer-songwriter plays the part of the corner-office executive who calls the shots. “Rules, I make ’em and I break ’em/Fools, my mama didn’t raise ’em,” she sings, as a strutting beat and trebly rockabilly guitar lay the foundation for some powerful, Sharon Jones-style belting. The video also depicts strong women throughout history, including Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley and Canadian singer-activist Buffy Sainte-Marie. It’s a thematic approach that fits with Neilson’s song, inspired by the confidence of her favorite rappers.
“I had a conversation I’d had with a girlfriend of mine, another big boss mama, kicking around in my brain,” says Neilson, who co-wrote the song with Kaylee Bell, Seth Haapu and Jol Molhulland. “She’s in the world of hip-hop and said, ‘You know how hip-hop is all about strut and swagger and confidence, telling people how badass you are? You should write a song with that attitude for your genre.'”
“Big Boss Mama” is the first song to be released since Neilson issued her latest album Sassafrass back in 2018. That album saw the singer stretching out stylistically to apply her titanic voice to soul-inspired numbers like “Stay Outta My Business” and “Bananas” that had a decidedly feminist slant, as well as moving country balladry like “Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6.”