This past April, the Women In Music Gathering was launched, an intergenerational artist alliance that was the collaborative creation of me, social media publicist Cindy D'Adamo, and singer/songwriter Colette O'Connor. We were aware that women in music face a very particular set of obstacles as they strive to balance relationships and professional goals throughout the different stages of their lives.
The journey is often frought with competing needs of the creative individual, a partner, children, an aging parent and professional challenges. It is very easy to both feel alone and be alone in this journey.
The field of music has become more complex and challenging in our internet and social media era, where being seen and heard, making money from one's profession and having true listening rooms for live performances is no small task. It can be quite overwhelming knowing where to focus, what to focus on, and how to balance all the activities that are needed to build one's music life and integrate it into a whole life as a woman.
There is also the need to just speak and be heard and listen to other's stories in a group of collaborative women. The first time our group gathered, there was a profound energy in the room. It became very apparent that our coming together not only was fulfilling a deep and unspoken emotional need, but also a more sacred purpose. Our members ranged in age from 20's to 60's, and as we shared our life stories, many common threads emerged along with many tears. To be in a circle where others inherently understood the challenges of the journey, the aloneness and the need to gather together for both personal and professional support was extraordinary.
Our meetings include a potluck brunch, a song sharing circle and a chance to go deeper and share what is on our hearts, as well as professional projects, questions and visions. Just as the power of the group can uplift each of its members, performing together as a group can uplift the audience in a powerful way. The whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts, and when four to eleven singer/songwriters and performing musicians share their unique musical flavors, the listener is bathed in a rich experience that touches heart and mind.
What is also wonderful is how collaborative projects unfold organically. We currently have 15 members in our group, and we thought it would be wonderful to do a "group showcase" show. Thanks to the support of Tom Bianchi who books the Burren, our group will be performing there on 11/18, and 11 members of the group will be sharing their songs. When I needed to choose back-up singers for my upcoming show 9/27 at Club Passim, it was a natural thought to ask two of my Women In Music Gathering sisters in song, Mary Casiello and Mara Bettencourt to join me. When we perform, we can back each other, not only emotionally and practically, but harmonically!
Last week, four of us sang sets of original songs at a venue in Somerville, and we discovered that two of us had written songs inspired by our four-legged companions. Our group is full of animal lovers, so the idea emerged of doing a show to benefit a local animal shelter. We are now doing our research to identify the date and venue for the show, and determining which of many beloved animal shelters will benefit from our efforts. Once the nuts and bolts are clear, we can collaborate with the animal shelter to promote the event, and in doing so, the cause of making sure our four legged companions are well cared for in forever homes.
The model we are building here in the Boston area can be transferred to other cities around the country. Gathering women in music for personal and professional support and collaboration, not only fills a need, but actually inspires. And as we are full and inspired, we touch others through our music and lives.