Thanks to a certain person in a certain big white building in the USA, women’s rights have never been more precarious.
At the recent Women’s Marches following the inauguration of Donald Trump the message, by both male and female demonstrators, was that women’s rights are human rights and that “women won’t be Trumped”.
Sadly though, it appears it’s still a man’s man’s man’s world within the music industry. Artists including Bjork, Lady Gaga and Laura Mvula have been vocal about sexism in the industry, with Gaga speaking out about sexual assault and the desire to be taken more seriously as an intelligent and talented musician rather than being associated just with body image. A recent Guardian article reported that although women make up 59% of entry-level business roles, only 30% of women hold senior executive roles.
But, there could be a change on the horizon. Music experts and celebrities alike are calling for women to be recognised in all aspects of the industry and Madonna’s acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 event last year may have been deeply moving but was also rousing.
PRS for Music have previously reported that their membership of over 95,000 songwriters and composers is only 13% female and allegedly, there have been cases of female writers pitching songs under a male pseudonym to give themselves a better chance (very 19th century female author, don’t you think?). So, Laid Bare founder Rami Radi has started a campaign via 38 Degrees called #takehername to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017.
The campaign is a call for action to encourage male artists to change their name across their social media platforms on IWD – to a female version of their name, in support of female musicians and songwriters in the industry. For IWD this year, women are being asked to ‘be bold for change’ but Rami wants to go one extra and encourage men to ‘change to be bold’.
You can be part of this amazing movement too. On Thursday 23 February 2017, Laid Bare will be staging an exciting event called Songbirds at London’s 93 Feet East on Brick Lane in support of this campaign and to challenge attitudes towards female musicians.
It’s not just about activism on the night though – the event is also, importantly, about showcasing and celebrating technically gifted women in music who are excelling in their field. The all female line up will comprise of five London based musicians, and celebrated DJ, Jenn Crothers will play some great tunes late into the night.
Laid Bare’s newest signing Sula Mae will launch her excellent new single, “Blind” on the evening. East London singer-songwriter Sula cites Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin as vocal influences. Her EP of the same name is largely influenced by the Bristol-bred Trip Hop sounds of Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky.
Also featuring are Cornish musician Polly Money who will showcase her melodious, sun-kissed voice and cheeky blend of pop and Bee Bakare whose upbeat, heartfelt tracks have earned her winner of the Future Music Songwriting Competition 2017. Completing the Songbirds all-female line up will be Brixton born and bred Elisa Imperilee whose debut EP is a melting pot of soul, R&B, jazz and hip-hop, and AutumnMusic who builds intricately-layered vocal loops live on stage, weaving her stories and experiences into songs that make her part singer, part producer, part poet.
It’s set to be an amazing evening – but with a purpose. “With almost 90% of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame being made up of male musicians we need to move on from pigeon-holing female musicians by image and understand that good musicianship is all that counts” says Rami.
Closing, with Madonna. In her BillBoard acceptance speech she called on women to “start appreciating our own worth, and each others worth” and encouraged them to “…seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to be inspired by. To collaborate with. To support. To be enlightened by.
Songbirds is a very good place to start.
Songbirds takes place on Thursday 23 February 2017 at 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane, E1 6QL.
Doors: 19.00. FREE ENTRY