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Women's History Month Is Not On Hold

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 21, 2020 12:52

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To help get your mind off the fears and concerns of COVID-19, at least temporarily, let's focus on Women's History Month, still ongoing.

This is a remarkable time in United States history: most of us are hunkering down at home, due to the Corona Virus pandemic. Others are hard at work, providing essential services in the fields of medicine, transportation, policing, sanitation, and more. It's a very tough time, and most of us crave welcome distractions.

Here is a worthy one: it's March, and it's Women's History Month. Perhaps you have overlooked this, but do so no longer. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about women's achievements and stories, the many activities which women have made their marks, and to assess what else women can do. 

For the past few years it has been my custom to post videos of women musicians to my Facebook account, throughout Women's History Month. It's an enjoyable endeavor and the teacher in me has hoped that I will influence my family and friends to look into the music of women, be it rock 'n roll, jazz, classical, ethnic and so on.

This month I posted videos of Aretha Franklin singing "Rock Steady," and Clara Rockmore playing her theremin version of "Habanera", Ella Fitzgerald singing and scatting "How High The Moon" and Bessie Smith singing "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle." I also posted videos of two noted female dee jays, Alison Steele and Robin Quivers, and a photo of an art exhibition dedicated to women's art, held at the Brooklyn Museum.

I also took some time to learn about a few female musicians whose work was less familiar to me. One is the late Ernestine Anderson, a jazz singer who worked with many famous bands and musicians. I heard about her on WBGO, a wonderful jazz station that broadcasts from Newark, NJ. Anderson had a smooth and hearty voice and excellent phrasing.

Another female musician whom I knew a bit about but decided to learn more about is Marian McPartland, a jazz pianist who also hosted a radio program. She played with a wide variety of bands and musicians and only passed away in 2013.

I also looked into the work of opera singer Pretty Yende, who had recently visited students at a Queens, NY performing arts high school. This South African soprano has an amazing delivery, and an inspirational story. 

There are so many female singers and musicians, and their styles run the gamut. If you listen to various radio stations across the dial, you will probably find that there are more women featured on pop, hip hop and country stations, and much less so on rock 'n roll stations. This is foolish, and sadly due to poor programming decisions. At least some of the alternative and college radio stations do play more music by women, especially those in lesser known bands. 

I encourage you all to take the time to listen to more female musicians. Listen on radio; on streaming services; even YouTube. Do it now, while it's Women's History Month... and for the rest of the year!

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 21, 2020 12:52

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It's Women's History Month, and today, we're celebrating female rock stars, singers and performers that changed music forever....

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