by Anthony R. Green
In the wake of the recent sham of the latest supreme court justice, combined with stories from the #MeToo movement, Elizabeth A. Baker's powerful Ain't I a Woman Too article, Castle of our Skins' recent projects Black Kaleidoscope: a Femme Journey of Becoming and Ain't I a Woman, the attrocity of having a misogynist as the president of the (questionably) United States of America, and the centenary of Women's Suffrage in 2020 (yes, just 100 years), I have been thinking about women and wanted to celbrate their contributions, patience, and acceptance of their thankless roles in life. Firstly, THANK YOU (on behalf of all men, even the misogynists). Secondly, did you know there is a podcast that interviews incredible composers who happen to be beautiful, accomplished women? This podcast is aptly called Listening to Ladies.
From its beginnings in 2015 and its debut episode on September 26th, 2016, Listening to Ladies has produced superhumanly high quality podcasts that focus on the lives, stories, and music of some incredible composers who are still living. To date it has 21 episodes, the latest featuring composer Judith Shatin, which was published on September first this year. Begun by composer, vocalist, poet, and visual artist Elisabeth Blair, with assistance from Krystee Wylder, this podcast has attracted a significant following, as well as mentions in various publications. The 21 composers featured represent eight countries and a wide age range. In each episode, the featured composers discuss gender as related to their artistic practice, as well as their music and life. Each composer receives their own feature page that contains a bio, an image, links to the music featured in the episode, and extras – wonderful tidbits that are not included in the podcast. In sum, the aural part of the podcast is rich, but incomplete without the information on the webpage feature. The podcast to date has not included transgender or non-binary composers, and Ms. Blair eloquent comments about this in a Facebook Post from February 2017. This podcast project will also end at episode 30; there are (sadly) only 9 episodes left!
Some of the composers featured on Listening to Ladies include Elizabeth A. Baker, Dolores White, and Pamela Z., all of whom discuss how race has also colored their professional practice. I was particularly drawn to Pamela Z.’s discussion of how reviewers describe her music with such vernacular as combining street smarts with soulful singing. These types of descriptors are not used for Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk, for example. This anecdote reminds me of a reviewer who compared a piece of mine to a jazz composer, even though the connection is non-existent.
While there are only 9 episodes left, Listening to Ladies still needs financial and social support! Right reviews on iTunes, comment on social media, spread and share links and podcasts, tell your friends and family, and donate! One can do this through Patreon or through a one-time donation link found on their help tab.
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