• Interviews

Malina Moye, Trailblazing Left-Handed Black Female Guitarist and More

Malina Moye was only in third grade when she picked the name of her future record label, Walking Commodities Entertainment or WCE Records.

It became a real label in 2010 and Moye is now the CEO and founder.

But aside from being a savvy businesswoman, Moye, now 37, is a member of a rare breed of Black female left-handed guitarists. Fender Guitars recognized her as one of their first Black left-handed upside-down female guitarist endorsees.

Guitar World Magazine selected Moye as one of the top guitarists in the world. One of her memorable performances was in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tribute show for iconic singer-guitarist Chuck Berry in 2012.




Born in Lorain, Ohio, the lefty guitarist-humanitarian said, “I am naturally left-handed. I do everything left-handed. With people who don’t know me, I love walking into a music store and playing their right-handed guitars upside down. They are like ‘Whoa, that’s backwards.’


“Left-handed people make up 10% of the world so lefty guitar players are even less. And Black left-handed women would be even fewer. Barbara Lynn plays left-handed. I know one left-handed, upside-down African American female guitarist – the great Elizabeth Cotten (1893-1987). The guitar community developed a lot of cool techniques because of her playing. I think I read that Angela Bassett is doing a project on her. Honestly, we are a rare breed.”


A rare breed, indeed.


Not just a lefty female guitarist but also a musical pioneer who is able to straddle both rock and soul genres, Moye was also the first Black woman to play the national anthem on electric guitar at the sold-out Vikings-Cowboys game at the Metrodome Stadium in Minneapolis in front of 80,000 people in October 2010.

“That was an incredible moment,” she said. “A lot of magazines compared the moment to Jimi Hendrix playing the anthem at Woodstock. To be honest, I was just excited to perform the national anthem and didn’t want to mess up. After I performed, I then learned that it was a historical first. Eighty thousand people screaming for you and clapping is quite thunderous and an unforgettable experience. It will definitely get your adrenaline going.”

Growing up in a musical family, Moye’s mom, Scelesteen, is a singer and a drummer, and dad, George, plays bass and sings as well.

“There are three of us kids, and I’m the only lefty and the only girl,” she said. “I turned professional when I was 12 so we played together for years. Whenever I head back to Minnesota, my mom and dad will sit in with my band.


“We were in a family band called Les Moye Ice. That was the foundation of my career and development. I grew up with an eclectic palette of music. My dad gave me my first guitar when I was seven, but I didn’t like it because he gave it to me the way a right-handed player would play. When he left the room, I took the guitar and flipped it upside down and I loved it. I’m naturally left-handed. I think I just have an obsession for string instruments. I don’t play any other instruments but I’m sure I could work my way around a bass if I tried.”


In July 2021, Dean Markley made a historic partnership with the singer-songwriter-guitarist to release the Malina Moye signature guitar strings. Moye became the first woman of color in history to have her own line of strings.

“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “I say being first is one thing, but real change takes many. I hope that more corporations do more partnerships with women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community.”

We interviewed this electric guitar powerhouse, influential artist, and savvy businesswoman who has turned her childhood dream into an empire. Below are excerpts of our conversation:


Your single Enough had a resurgence in 2020 with Black Lives Matter. Can you talk about that?


Yes, the premise of that song is to know you matter and you count. Essentially, someone made me feel like I didn’t matter, and I didn’t count, so I wrote a song in the hopes the writer would hear it and change his heart about how he judged his list of individuals in a certain media outlet, which seemed to be based on race, rather than actual talent.


African American women don’t get the same opportunities as everyone else, and a lot of times we have to work harder just to get to the starting point. After the murder of George Floyd, the song took on a new life and I realized it had a much bigger purpose than to try to change one man’s mind because there were and are many people out there who felt like me.


So, I always say, “When you don’t see yourself represented, show up; when you think you can’t do something, show up; and always know you matter, and you count.” Enough is one of my favorite songs to have written, and I’m so glad that more people discover it every day. I’m so proud that it has resonated with so many musically and lyrically. I hope they believe every word.


As a musician, can you talk about the legacy of Jimi Hendrix? Tell us about your experience when you joined the Experience Hendrix Tour as the only female guitarist with guitar greats such as Eric Johnson, Robert Randolph, and others to honor Jimi Hendrix.


Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all time. To me, the legacy of Hendrix is looking back and looking at the generations of guitar players he has inspired. His phrasing, tone, feel, and freedom of expression that he brought with his guitar are unmatched.


I’m a fan of all the guitarists who were on the Experience Hendrix Tour. It’s very cool to have a conversation with your hero about a guitar lick you heard and then to learn that lick directly from the guy who created it. I was honored to have been on that tour and since then, several other women have been on it, too.


Did you meet Prince? Talk about his influence on you and his legacy to the music world.


Yes, I did. In fact, I had a chance when I was a teenager to hang out with Prince for several months at Paisley Park and watch him work. Now that was mind-blowing.


I remember when it was over, I said “Mr. Prince, after all of this, I think I can go out in the world and become somebody.” He said, “I look forward to watching.”


I feel my music has the DNA of Minneapolis and Ohio but with my own signature sound. Prince’s legacy to me is to challenge yourself and the business, be fearless, take chances in music sonically, create your own destiny, and take ownership.


I think for the world, the legacy is the same thing, and to always know you will find him in his music, the notes, and the words.


You were also the featured Black female guitarist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute to Chuck Berry. How was that experience? And tell us how Chuck Berry also influenced you.


That was another great experience. To be among so many icons and legends was humbling. Mr. Chuck Berry was incredible. He is Rock and Roll.


The history of his guitar playing, his story, his charisma – everything about him was a real eye-opener. I started to see where the legacy actually started with the artists I like.


Again, I seem to gravitate towards artists who express their own freedom. I feel when you do that, you give others permission to be themselves. That’s what makes us all great. We are all so different. That’s the real beauty.


What is your relationship with Stevie Wonder? Why is he so special to you?


Mr. Stevie is a friend. Being around him is like a history book filled with love and spirituality. I was introduced to him by a very good friend after he heard me playing guitar. I was then invited to perform at his birthday party and it all grew from there.


One of my favorite memories is he had our Drive Hope kids choir sing at his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert and he came out and accompanied them. It was amazing!




Musically, who are your idols when it comes to guitar playing?


Musically, I have so many idols. But definitely Prince, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Albert King, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn – and all for different reasons.


How many guitars do you have, and do you have a favorite one?


I have Fenders, Gibsons, and Kramers. Each guitar definitely brings a certain element to my music. They all are very special to me but the guitar that has the most replicas would be my custom seafoam Fender with a left-handed body and a right-handed headstock strung in reverse.




I’ve been very fortunate through my endorsements to have companies that have really helped me make my guitars work as a left-handed player who plays upside down. What that actually means is the high, skinny E is at the top, and the low E string is at the bottom.


What does music do for you?


Music gives me a sense of freedom. It’s amazing how a simple melody can change or alter a mood, trigger a memory, and bring people of all walks of life together. It’s magic!


And how does performing transform you?


I love performing. I always say when you see someone in their element, you see their authentic self. You see the spiritual version of them.


Yes, it’s very possible to be transported to another realm or frequency when the groove is right, the pocket is solid, and the energy is otherworldly. Yes, I believe the performer and the audience are both transformed. It’s truly an experience. It’s like church. Very spiritual.


Have you ever played in movie soundtracks?


Yes, I wrote the end credit song for the comedic drama The Samuel Project in which I made my acting debut. It was directed by Marc Fusco.




I’ve got a song in an upcoming movie called Slayers. I was featured there and played the guitar on Bella Thorne’s song and music video Phantom.


I’m also in development on a film project that I can’t wait to talk about. I definitely see acting and writing music in films as part of my palette.


You are the co-founder of DriveHope.org, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping individuals elevate themselves and their communities.


Drive Hope’s mission is to step in at the right moment and help those who may come from less fortunate circumstances to see greater options for their lives. We bring inspiring role models to speak in classrooms and social organizations with Drive Hope’s Hope Chats Career Program, where we bring in professionals who share the what, when, where, why, and how on their careers.


The organization’s hashtag says it all – #FindTheGr8nU.


What advice would you give emerging female Black guitarists who want to follow in your footsteps?


I would say get around players who are better than you. Don’t be afraid to fail and take lots of risks. So, keep going and don’t stop. I’m rooting for you!