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Before There Was Michael Jackson's "Thriller," There Was Ibis's "Street Children"

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

In December 1983, Thriller, the most expensive music video ever made at that time, debuted on MTV. The zombies dancing in the street with Michael Jackson were a hit, and Thriller also

became the best selling music video of its time.

Ibis was a band of six talented Black women from Brooklyn. Their Street Children video never played on MTV. The song was great. The musicians were terrific. MTV didn't support Black artists in those early days. In fact, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean was the first song ever played by a Black musician on MTV, also in 1983, two years after the channel launched.

But here's the thing. Street Children was released in the summer of 1983, BEFORE Thriller. This was one of A-Ray Productions' first projects. We made the music video with Ibis for NO BUDGET. Stylistically, it foreshadowed Thriller as a short story that takes place on urban streets, with choreographed backup dancers and actors setting the tone and dramatizing the lyrics. We had a blast filming it on location in our neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Parts of the video were shot on our rooftop on Chrystie Street. Not many people ever got to see it, and that's just a shame.

I like to think that if Ibis were together today, their music and their creativity would earn them the credit they deserved.

We've just dug some old 3/4" videotapes out of storage and had them digitally preserved by the conservationists at Happily, the Ibis video hadn't deteriorated beyond rescue. So never mind the glitches .... here's Street Children.

It's been so long, I can only remember some of the first names of the musicians. Carmen, and Sheri. And Konda Mason did the choreography. If anyone seeing this knows how to contact any of the Ibis band members, please put us in touch!

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Afua Kafi-Akua
Afua Kafi-Akua
Jul 20, 2020

Hey Amy! It's Afua from IBIS. How are you? Yes. IBIS was ahead of our time 🤓! I would love to see the digitzed footage. Peace, be well.


hey amy! i am still in touch with afua and carmen, edwina passed away quite some time ago. don't know about debbie napper (guitar) or konda. afua would be the one to contact. email me! (btw my last name is tovsky) x b

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