As someone who is very passionate about female fronted music, to the extent that I present a specialist radio show especially to promote this type of music, and of course like to promote any upcoming gigs etc, it has recently interested in me particular how female fronted music is represented by music festivals. It's a sad fact that radio shows like mine even need to exist, as female fronted music is still not very well represented in the mainstream music arena, or even by the more alternative rock scene. A glance at Kerrang or Classic Rock magazine, and you see very few all female or female fronted bands compared to the amount of male bands.
When I looked at the majority of festival line ups, I was disappointed me to see that there were very few female fronted and even fewer all female bands even in the whole line up, let alone as head liners. The only mainstream festival that
had a female headline acts was Glastonbury, and that was in the form of pop sensation Beyonce, a woman more known for the size of her bottom than her musical talent. Of the few other female acts at the major festivals, the same artists appeared again and again: Jessie J, Katy B, Clare Maguire etc. While of course there is no denying that these artists do have talent, they are all of the more mainstream genre of pop/dance, unlike the male acts that tend to be more rock based and also more likely to be playing instruments that their female counterparts.
So what can/is being done about this? Well one thing that has been done for the last eleven years by members of the general public all over the world are Ladyfests. Ladyfests first started in Olympia, Washington, USA in the year 2000. They are non profit festivals that can be organised by anyone who wants to organise one that can be as big or small as they want. Normally the biggest focus is on all female/female fronted bands but there are often also workshops, art activities and other creative endeavours, all focusing on the celebration of female art and creativity in its various forms.
Last year, London was the venue for Ladyfest Ten, the ten year celebration of Ladyfests
all over the world. This was a huge one, featuring bands, workshops, stalls and even
a creative area where women could go and do crafts and chill out with like minded
people. I went there myself for a day and not only experienced some fantastic music,
but also attended a Women in the Media workshop with the opportunity to talk to women
who doing media careers -
It's thanks to the people that organise these Ladyfests that women do have the opportunity to showcase their talent. I was inspired so much by what the organisers managed to achieve last year, that I decided to organise one myself in my area this year, although on a smaller scale and with a focus on the musical side of things. But the point is it doesn't matter how big or small it is, at least it's being organised and while the mainstream festivals choose to mainly focus on female pop acts, we need Ladyfest as a platform for those being ignored who have something to say.
So I say, if you agree with me, organise a Ladyfest in your town or even just a gig with some of the great female acts you might know in your area to get them exposure! Write to the organisers of other festivals and complain, ask them where all the female acts are, because we need them just as much as they need us...
Review by Hayley Foster Da Silva
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