Sunday, 5 April 2015

WOMEN ONLY MUSIC FESTIVALS- an opinion

The news that a new festival only dedicated to women is getting stronger in France, is extraordinarily,  special. Festival Les Femmes S'en Melent aims to promote women musicians only. I was watching its founder and journalists talking  on France 24.com TV on Easter weekend 2015.
 On one hand it is hurrrah for the anti discrimination window. Like having gigs ONLY for reggae or blacks or albinos or disabled or any group that has been sidelined and left out for ages.

Tanzania's bassist  Muhtaji,  daughter of the legendary Mbaraka Mwinshehe, on stage with Twanga Pepeta in 2010. Pic from Michuzi Blog

 One of those involved ( could not catch his name) said everything in the music industry is mainly, male dominated. Men players, engineers, promoters and women are oftentimes groupies, dolls, objects of pleasure, muse, etc. That the percentage of female musicians in festivals and gigs is very low compared to men. 
Agreed. 

A journalist added that women musicians are never taken seriously. Sold through magazine covers, paraded as beauties and objects of social attention.
Fine.
I watched, listened and pondered.
One side agreed.
Another side of me, questioned....
Let us look at Beyonce. One of the biggest selling female musicians today. She has an all female band.  But when she performs, the camera just sits on her. Images of her legs, face, her dancers and hips are magnified and zoomed  zillion times. 

 When I was searching for a picture of the Sugar Mamas band, it was not easy. In most pictures there is Beyonce. This speaks a lot. Luckily found this one. From Pint Interest.com

Beyonce band which has very capable instrumentalists is never shown CLEARLY when she performs on TV.  If there are solos, camera quickly cuts into the singer, Beyonce. No close-ups on hands of musicians,  guitar chords or drum kit or keyboards. To us musicians the band is just a  background bridegroom. Hey ! You can hear the terrific playing, but nothing more. Just hips and dancing and singing...of the main girl. What does that say?
 If the media is accomplice to this circus of sexuality ...which instead of showing women musical players, how are we supposed to take women musicians seriously? If the media is already making Beyonce the object of pleasure, ( I am sure if she disagreed her manager and team would have changed things) how are future female musicians going to evolve? They are going to want to become singers, dancers and sex toys for sure
They are not going to want to be like the Bangles or Sheila E
Sheila E....picture taken from International Review of Music July 2014

Prince, has done  more for female musicians in terms of promotion and image building than these TV stations. His team would zoom on to Wendy Melvoin  on guitar and Lisa Coleman on keys. And Sheila E. That is women promotion. And that is  key.  Tell me. Are young women musicians aspiring to be like Beyonce and strut and show hips and tits.....or to play drums and instruments as brilliantly as Sheila E or the Bangles?
Bangles on stage in 2012. Pic from Wikipedia

Music is not just singing and dancing.
Music is composing, writing,  playing instruments, soloing, scales, timing, technology, sound, grinding hard work. That is what men like Rolling Stones, Beatles, Santana, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley have been doing. That is what we need from women!


Percussionist Nadia Hasan  performing with author  sometime in 2014. Video by Zoronita

No comments: