By Geoff Shelton
9 to Know is a bi-monthly list highlighting important stories, music and more from the global, female-identified and non-binary communities in music.
Know Your Network
These three organizations work to create opportunities and support for women and non-binary communities in music. Check them out and find your people!
She Said So “is a curated network of women with active roles in the music industry.” This organization has a strong focus on women working on the industry side of music with regular panels and social events through its local chapters in New York, Los Angeles, London and more.
Sister “is a virtual collective of women and gender non-conforming electronic music enthusiasts and professionals across the globe, striving to support each other and remedy inequality in our field since 2015.” Sister exists in the virtual space through its private facebook community page where members exchange ideas and information. Throughout the year Sister hosts various IRL events around the globe and releases regular member mixes through its soundcloud page.
Women in Music “is an organization with a mission to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities and cultural aspects of women in the music arts…” Founded in 1985, Women in Music is one of the longest running organizations devoted to uplifting women across all platforms of the music industry. From the composers to the marketers, its membership knows no bounds.
Know Your Future
These three recent releases feature artists that are re-defining classic genres, expanding their possibilities and opening up new roads for us to discover.
Xarah Dion-Fugitive– This second LP from the Montreal-based singer and composer features new flavors in the synthpop/darkdisco world. Xarah’s voice ranges from an alluring whisper to a silvery soprano over wavey rhythms and tones for days. It’s like finding a neon-lit, 80’s disco in the middle of a French, sci-fi, film noir with no “FIN” in sight.
Du Yun – Angel’s Bone– This new opera composition from the Shanghai-born, New York-based composer, musician and performance artist won the Pulitzer Prize for music last year. Recently released in album form, the opera follows a middle-American couple that find a pair of injured angels. After nursing them back to health, they soon begin to exploit them for money. Described as a “harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world,” the piece integrates classical, electronic and experimental noise elements into a sonic journey that blows minds and encourages action.
Tygapaw – Love Thyself– This debut EP from the Jamaica-born, New York promoter, DJ and general nightlife legend (Fake Accent, Shottas) comes strong with five tracks sure to move your emotions as much as they move your body. Seamlessly combining the sounds and rhythms she blends in her DJ sets (baile funk, New York vogue, dancehall, etc.) into a genre all their own, “Love Thyself” offers a brief but deep promise of the utopian future we can all look forward to in dance music.
Know Your Roots
These three books give voice to many of the under recognized or, all together unrecognized, histories of women musicians and their roles in music and activism through the 20th century.
Swing Shift – This wonderful book recounts the “forgotten history” of “all-girl” jazz bands of the 1940’s. Through extensive research and interviews with living members of these bands, author Sherrie Tucker recounts the ups and downs of their lives while exploring the cultural significance they had on worldviews of women as career musicians.
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism – THE Angela Y. Davis takes on the musical careers of “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday and offers a re-interpretation of their work. Through brilliantly deconstructing the white, American, middle-class values through which their work was previously viewed, she explains how these women embody an artistic triumph over the popular music industry of the time and “a proto-feminist consciousness within working-class, black communities”.
Women Make Noise – This collection of essays also focuses on the history of bands composed of all women members. From country music groups of the 20’s-40’s, rock and pop groups of the 50’s and 60’s, to punk, post-punk, queercore and riot grrl, ending with an epilogue on Pussy Riot. Included are some of the histories of these musicians paving the way for future women-identified musicians through the establishment of community music schools and Rock Girl camps. Yet another overlooked history of music and feminist activism brought to life.