Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Practice--Listening to the Feminine Voice

As a woman, I gravitate to the musical voices of women and I can say I have always done that.  And you would think that all women would support women musicians by purchasing recordings, attending concerts and passing the word on about women artists to friends, but this isn't always the case.  When I first became interested in pursuing a career as a songwriter and vocalist back in the early 1980s, there were actually few female role models leading bands and writing their own songs compared to the number of bands led by men and even when conversations among women came up about music, the women would mention their favorite male performers.

Yet for me, I needed the tenderness and vulnerability of women songwriters because they spoke my emotions for me, whereas, even the most sensitive men musicians did not.  And of course, I had my favorite male-led bands and singers too because we all need the balance.  As time went on, I noticed more women supporting women bands and songwriters through record sales, concert attendance and friends talking with friends.  And because of this support, more women started bands, wrote songs, and expressed themselves, mainly because they were inspired by their musical sisters getting up on the stage.  Women musicians also started garnering more press too and they weren't just tossed on the cover for sporting beautiful tresses and big breasts.  They actually had something interesting to say, even in the pop music arena, think Tori Amos or Suzanne Vega.

Today, my interests lies with classical, jazz, world and folkloric music mainly.  I'm including some all women groups here who speak to my sensibilities these days because I'm no longer in my 20s and 30s and my sensibilities have changed dramatically.  I listen to a lot of women musicians from the baby boomer generation as well as my own too because these women have reached their wisdom years.  And some of these women were wise beyond their years when they were in their 20s, 30s and 40s.  I mean, Carole King hits the spot for me and I'm talking about her older songs.

But let's start out with a young group of women vocalists who specialize in medieval music, The Medieval Baebes from England.  This ensemble has a Venus quality and they use the glamor of Neptune which includes music and video imagery.  Their arrangements amaze my ears and their beautiful voices soothe my soul.

The Medieval Baebes

Next up we're visiting the world of American swing and bluegrass.  Hailing from Canada are two of my favorite girl groups, The Wailin' Jennys and The Good Lovelies.  One is more sober than the other, but the women share more than a Canadian identity in common.

This Wailin' Jennys' song dates back to the beginning of the band's career.

Have fun with The Good Lovelies who have a sense of girlish play and giggles.  Listening to their songs is like hanging out with your best friends.

Off to Ireland, where we revisit songs by The Henry Girls who I discovered recently.

Then finally, we set off to Cuba where we encounter an all-women Cuban son band.  And you'll find other all-women groups throughout the Latin American music traditions.

Morena Son

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