As if spending two years researching, writing, collaborating and rehearsing with extraordinary artists wasn’t challenging enough, lately I’ve been dogged with the question – why bother, in these turbulent times, to ‘put on a show’?
BLUES IS A WOMAN is a story I can honestly say that I’ve been driven to tell. The fierce, audacious voices of women in the blues have always inspired me – and of course, carries on the mission of the Wild Women of Song project to honor key women in music.
I began my career as a blues singer: a teenager belting out Bessie Smith and Koko Taylor songs. The fierce, independent messages written and sung by powerful women, helped shape my own identity as a feminist — especially in the mostly-male world of live music in the early 1980’s.
What I did not imagine was just how RELEVANT it all has turned out to be. In Act 2 of BLUES IS A WOMAN, the ensemble turns an eye to post WW2 music and culture. Everything was changing so fast – as soldiers returned home from the war, there was an uneasy feeling that somehow things should, but wouldn’t, go back to the way they used to be. Lots of women didn’t want to give up that factory job. Proud black soldiers couldn’t stomach being called ‘boy’ again.
It was a tectonic shift in American culture – as Aretha sang “Respect” and “Freedom”, protestors took to the streets for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights. Nina Simone’s “Backlash Blues” is an extraordinary cry against political hypocrisy.
Why put on a show about women and the blues? Well, as it turns out, there couldn’t be a more important time to remember and celebrate our cultural inter-connectedness. It turns out this is exactly the right time to celebrate black culture, it’s importance to all popular music, and to hear the voices of powerful women.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pamela Rose is a professional musician: vocalist, bandleader, songwriter and educator. While performing weekly in the Bay Area, Rose has also been touring nationally with the Wild Women of Song project, a concert series devoted to giving voice to remarkable women in American music.
Thurs Feb 2 – Angelica’s Redwood City, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Thurs Feb 16 – BLUES IS A WOMAN show debut – Kuumbwa Jazz Club, Santa Cruz, 7:00 pm
Thurs March 2 – Angelica’s Redwood City, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Thurs March 30 – BLUES IS A WOMAN CD Release and concert – Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, 8:00 pm