Sunday, June 6, 2010

Input Jack: Women Solo Musicians

The Plight of Sologirl originally published at Grey Area
by Anne Adams - June 6th, 2010:

My recent show at Folklife prompts me to also address some more general themes that have emerged not only there, but elsewhere in my performance experience--little psychic obstacles I keep tripping over, on many stages.

Let me just say, for musical performance purposes, I'd rather be any of the other things that I am, than a girl. I don't really feel female when I play. Maybe I dress that way (and maybe I have to stop?) but I consider myself to be more of a narrator, a voice; sometimes, a medium or conjurer, and, as my buddy Tim once said, the town crier. That's the style I've come to; that's my way and my soul. World, can you stop making me regret that my guts are contained in an hourglass rather than a jar? 'Cause when I'm up there, I'm spilling them anyway.

And also, can we please make a better habit of listening to the way a given person plays (even if it's a female person), and put that person with stylistically compatible acts? I may just go slumber in a cave and you can wake me when it's finally time.

Actually, the next generation of musicians seems to have gotten beyond this problem. Newer bands are coming out now, nonchalantly co-ed, like gender isn't even a big whoop. But solo girls hold the last stigma, and the booking powers that be are often from the prior generation, and frankly still a little old-school.

So please let me debunk some assumptions. Just because I'm a female solo musician does NOT necessarily mean:

I don't have very much gear
I don't know the best way to set up/plug in my gear
I ought to act shy or modest
I should have to act masculine to earn your respect
I will be accessible or appropriate entertainment for young children or elderly people
I should open every show
I will sing about love and heartbreak
I'm an "afternoon" act
I'm a "cabaret" act
I'll fit in with every other female musician
My music will be relaxing or mellow
My music will be melodramatic
My music will be emotional and not intellectual
I'm not a geek for structure and theory
I want my audience members to try to date me
I am trying to be seductive from stage
I need to be saved
I owe you love
Stop assuming any of the above, and we'll get along just fine.

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