Still finding the fire, part 2: where are women’s music performers today?

Last week’s blog about women’s music performers and where they are now was such a hit that I’ve written part two.  The descriptions are a little shorter but only because I was pressed for time. This isn’t even close to a complete list. There needs to be a book … oh yeah, I’m writing one.

Toni Armstrong Jr with Alix Dobkin and Kay Gardner

Toni Armstrong is a bass player but is best known as the editor and publisher of Hot Wire, the Journal of Women’s Music and Culture. She retired and moved from Chicago a few years ago and now lives in Florida.

Jamie Anderson is some broad who writes a weekly blog and still gets her butt out for a little touring. Her bread and butter, though, is teaching music. She hates writing about herself in the third person.

Laura Berkson on left, with Leah Zicari, Mosa, Jamie Anderson and Sue Fink

Laura Berkson is a singer-songwriter who’s released several CDs. For several years, she was the cantor for a Midwest synagogue. She’s now in New England, studying to be a rabbi. I’ve always loved her song “Marie,” about two women who went to the prom together. Here’s a lovely choral version by Vox Femina:

Activist/singer Heather Bishop took some time off from performing to focus on her painting. She must have figured out a way to do both because her most recent recording My Face is a Map of My Time Here contains a booklet of her wonderful paintings. There’s also a companion book. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s now a marriage commissioner for Manitoba. Wedding planners in Manitoba, stock up on the bride/bride cake decorations.

Dianne Davidson is known for her cover of Willie Dixon’s “Built for Comfort” and her Olivia album Breaking All the Rules. She retired from playing music a few years ago. Recently, though, she performed with Tracy Nelson at the 40th anniversary of the Exit/In in Nashville.  She was the first act to play there in September of 1971; Jimmy Buffet was her opening act. She lives in upstate New York with her partner and their son.

The Deadly Nightshade wasn’t really known in women’s music circles but they were one of the first all women bands. Starting in 1972, they toured nationally and released two albums. They’ve reunited. Their website only shows two performances in 2010. I hope there’s more planned.

Sue Fink is the founder, artistic director and conductor for the Angel City Chorale but in women’s music, she is known by her two award winning albums as well as her tongue-in-cheek song “Leaping Lesbians.” She teaches voice in her studio in Los Angeles where she lives with her partner and their daughter.

I first fell in love with Judy Fjell when I heard her “Middle Aged Body (with Teenage Emotions).” She now directs several very popular music camps for women.

Robin Flower and Libby McLaren

When I grow up I want to play the mandolin like Robin Flower. If I lived near Oakland, CA, I could take lessons from her but alas, it’d be a long drive from Canada.  She’s got several wonderful albums under her belt and still performs with Libby McLaren.

Monica Grant’s hilarious parody of Ferron’s “Shadows on a Dime” still makes me chuckle. She quit doing music a few years ago, got involved with theater and then moved to Hawaii. Recently, she returned to California.

Known for the sexy recording Honey On My Lips, Pam Hall now resides and teaches in Pensacola, Florida.

photo by Marita Madeloni

June Millington was a member of Fanny, one of the first all-women bands signed to a major label. She went on to perform with Cris Williamson and others. Along with partner Ann Hackler, she runs the Institute for Musical Arts, an organization that supports women and girls in music. She’s got some west coast September and October gigs scheduled with sister Jean Millington. Let’s hope more performances will happen, say near Ottawa.

Mimi Baczewska, now known as Mosa, continues to have her hand in lots of creative endeavors. Many know her from her fabric work, vocal workshops and recordings including my favorite, her 1990 release Turning Tide. She currently lives in the Northwest.

Linda Shear did one of the first, if not the first, lesbian concert in 1972 in Chicago. She released a solo album in 1974 and not long after that, retired from music. She runs her own accounting firm in California.

I’m a long time fan of Australia’s Judy Small. She’s released several albums including the 2006 offering, Live at the Artery. Her songs have been recorded by several including Ronnie Gilbert. Her website only lists one performance for 2011; my guess is that she’s taking it easy these days.

Sweet Honey in the Rock was founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973. She left after 30 years but they’re all going strong. The group released a single last year, “Are We a Nation?” protesting the new immigration law in Arizona.  Dr. Reagon continues to sing; recently she did a very well-received set with her daughter Toshi  at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival.

Linda Tillery has performed with the Cultural Heritage Choir since 1992 but I know her best from her self-titled Olivia album, released in 1977. She’ll be doing some shows with Holly Near in October this year.

Lucie Blue Tremblay’s beautiful voice is known to many. Performing since 1986, she was popular at women’s music festivals and many other venues. Her latest passion is a project to encourage women to do self-breast exams to screen for cancer. Her website doesn’t list any performances but I hear she’s doing one in Florida soon.

Teresa Trull’s first Olivia album got a lot of airplay at my house. She released more albums including a couple with Barbara Higbie. She recently moved to New Zealand. Here’s a fairly recent video of a great performance with Barbara, Vicki Randle and Lisa Koch. Oh how I would’ve loved to be in that audience:

Did you find this post helpful? Please consider keeping me in coffee and my cats in kibble. And it’s only $2.

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Want more? Check out part one.

Most of the images came from Google and they don’t give photographer credits. If you know who took one of the photos I used, please tell me and I’ll credit them.

About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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27 Responses to Still finding the fire, part 2: where are women’s music performers today?

  1. denise says:

    Jamie you rock ,Thank you… i love the sisters on your list Keep them coming

  2. Erin says:

    Thank you for this!!!

  3. Julie Nicolay says:

    Oh, yeah, Part 2 is wonderful! THANK YOU, and thanks for writing the book! I’ll buy a copy or two in advance! Can’t wait… 🙂

  4. Larry says:

    Thank you, Jamie. I can’t wait for the book.

    BTW, Judy Small is not taking it easy. She hasn’t been performing as much since she started studying law and became a family lawyer in Melbourne. I kept wanting to see her on tour in the US again, but it is not to be.

  5. Anne Haines says:

    I was fortunate enough to attend a Mavis Staples concert recently (she was pretty amazing) and was delighted to spot Vicki Randle as one of her backing vocalists – a nice unexpected bonus.

    Thanks for this herstory! Looking forward to your book.

  6. Pingback: Still finding the fire: where are women’s music performers today? | Jamiebobamie

  7. KJ Denhert says:

    Hey there Jamie- This was fun and fascinating. I remember these names and meeting quite a few of these pioneers years after their records were in heavy rotation circa the summer of 77 in my apartment. Isn’t that how we met? At a festival, maybe in Iowa. I remember laughing a lot and I hope you are well. Thanks.- KJ

    KJ Denhert

  8. Thank you for this fab history (herstory). Check out Baba Yaga, another Portland, OR women’s jazz band that had a lot influence in the 1970’s.

  9. Hey Jamie! Driving through the Midwest and ran across this site. Great info. Hope you’re well. Keep up the work. I’ll send you the new cd this fall! Bobbi

  10. Dayna Deck says:

    You need to add Willie Tyson to the list. I heard she did become an engineer but always wondered if that was true.

    • jamiebobamie says:

      Like I say at the end of the post, there’s a lot more women I could include. There’s a part two after this.

      I’ve heard the same thing about Willie. I think Robin Flower said it at a concert. I asked her about it but she couldn’t remember.

  11. Pingback: Still finding the fire, part 3: where are women’s music performers today? | Jamiebobamie

  12. Peggy Lutz says:

    Yes, by all means, if anyone knows about Willie Tyson, I’d love to hear. She was my big crush. I loved her song “Time” and came faithfully to a NW DC coffeehouse to see and hear her perform.

  13. Shel says:

    What about Ferron?

  14. Elizabeth Pizzati says:

    Loved reading this. It brought back many great memories. You are missing a few early ones I saw in New Orleans in the late 70’s, Willie Tyson’s Debutant Ball is priceless and Berkeley Women’s Music Collective had a big role in my radicalization, i.e. accepting myself and being more open. Karen Mackay’s Annie Oakey Rides Again was also a favorite. I must also mention Cassie Culver’s Ride Sally Ride and Kay Weaver ‘ s One Fine Day. I also attended the first Southern Women’s Music Festival produced by Robin Flowers held in the North Georgia Mountains and Rita Mae Brown was there. Oh, the memories.

    I also enjoyed hosting you when you played in New Orleans in the 80’s. Thank you for helping to keeping this part of our history alive.

    Beth Pizzati

  15. Nice to see where everyone is! Did I see you’re coming to Baltimore? I’ll send you a copy of my next cd, should be out this fall!

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