by Jamie Anderson
In California, a month before the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Maxine Feldman penned a song, “Angry Atthis,” about the shame surrounding lesbians. She didn’t know where she was going to sing her new song until comedy duo Harrison and Tyler asked her to open their shows. On the other side of the country and three years later, Alix Dobkin released Lavender Jane Loves Women, the first record produced, engineered and played by women.
Maxine and Alix had no business plan. They didn’t fit the mold set by mainstream music but they saw great potential to create a powerful soundtrack for women claiming their place as lesbians and feminists. A myriad of musicians joined them, from a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, to singer-songwriter Cris Williamson, to activist/singer Holly Near, to jazz/classical/gospel performer Mary Watkins and many more; collectively they have sold millions of albums.
Venues, radio shows, record distributors, and sound technicians sprung up to host and work with these musicians. Grateful fans traveled hundreds of miles to attend performances. These women (and a few men) created artist-run independent record labels—perhaps the first in history—and organized music festivals that drew thousands and still exist today. Before Lilith Fair and riot grrrls, there was women’s music!
“I stood in those crowds, sang along with Meg Christian and Casse Culver and women who played rock & roll and bluegrass and all the music that echoed in my bloodstream. Jamie Anderson has caught the lightning and put it on the page.” – Dorothy Allison
FROM THE AUTHOR
"When musician Therese Edell passed away, I found myself wondering why no one had ever written a book about women’s music. There’s one about women’s music festivals that was out of print, a chapter or two in other books and that was it. Then I realized that someone could be me. After eight years of research and writing, it’s here! It was a great pleasure to interview over a hundred musicians, concert producers, fans, and more for this book about women’s music. I found myself reliving those heady times when women’s music empowered me and thousands of others. I hope you do too and if you weren’t around then, this is a great opportunity to read about our amazing network."
Fascinating and detailed, the book covers everything from the improvisational creation of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival to the problems that musicians and fans faced when crossing the US-Canada border to attend shows. Interviews, anecdotes, and photographs combine to pay tribute to the brilliant, determined women who banded together to create a unique, inspirational movement.
An Army of Lovers is a thorough insider’s look at the women’s music industry.