How I came to my decision ‘Not To Play’ the Mich Fest.
I feel I need to share the process I went through that led to my decision to not play the Michigan Women’s Festival. I have known about the festival for many years and heard about the wonderful experiences, the freedom, camaraderie and self discovery, many of my sister musicians have enjoyed over the years. I made the decision not to accept an invitation to perform at the festival a few years ago because I couldn’t bring my band, ‘all male musicians’ and one of my backing singers, a sangin’ guy, who’s been there for me for pay and sometime without pay as all of my ‘funkrocksters’ have.
Things have changed! One of the beautiful changes being the amount of superbly talented musicians who are women giving me a great pool to invite or ask if they would be part of my backing band anytime, anywhere! With this change plus my experience recording and performing with Mosaic (100% women musicians on the record & an almost all women on live shows) the invitation by Lisa Vogel through my friend Toshi Reagan to perform at the festival this year I felt possible. I started the process to perform at the festival along with my two female backing singers. With Toshi on board to help me organize a band from the musicians she knew would attend the festival this year I was looking forward to experiencing what I’d only heard about.
Then rumbles of trouble brewing because of the festival’s policy of ‘Women Born Women’ and the issue around Transgender’s attending. I became concerned. There was too much experience in my life of what it feels like to be unwelcome or excluded. I then had a very long conversation with Toshi where we both expressed our thoughts and feelings about the festival, it’s Women Born Women policy and the possibility of how to resolve the issue of Women Not Born Women attending or not attending. I don’t have an answer of how to resolve this issue facing the MichFest. I have never been part of an event where anyone was excluded for race, sex, or religion. I have fought for or supported human rights from; Stonewall to Gay & Lesbian Rights to ending the fear of people with HIV/AIDS (the quilt in DC, performing at the first GMHC Dance-a-thons) Women’s Rights, supporting Planned Parenthood, Not playing Sun City and adding my voice and music to the Free Nelson Mandela campaign.
During the time I was deliberating ‘to play or not to play’ I happen to watch a UK tv, ITV documentary series, ‘Ladyboys’ about a Transgender’s Beauty Contest in Bangkok. It’s helped to shape my decision. Check it out for yourself; http://open.itvshowsapp.com/series/38414-ladyboys
I called Lisa Vogel to express my feelings and doubts about playing the festival and that I unfortunately needed to decline the invitation this year. Toshi and I talked then talked again after I made my decision based not to play, on how my gut felt when I thought about attending and performing at the festival with its current policy. It was a painful decision as it meant less work for my to singers (one who was looking forward to the experiencing the event for the first time) and the musicians Toshi was organizing. Lisa needed time to announce an artist in my slot, I agreed and made the short tweet, fb announcement which in hindsight was not the best decision I’ve made because of it’s brevity and how it felt anti the MichFest to my friend and some other people & fans on fb & twitter. I received a lot of support for my decision although it wasn’t something I was looking for and I’m grateful many support my decision.
Thank you Toshi, thank you to all of my friends who listened, shared and gave me support in my decision. Thank you Lisa for continuing to face the difficult issue with communication and accepting my decision.
Peace and Love to all,
Teaching is Challenging and a Blast! I support the need to compensate our teachers who educate our children as well if not better than what we pay our political leaders and corporate captains. “You get what you pay for” and educating our children today and for the future should be one of our highest priorities along side of health care and security.
Keep up with me and the courses here on the ‘NEWS PAGE’ & tweets on twitter & updates on facebook as I get back into the groove again this semester!
In my role as an ‘Ambassador of Artistry & Education’ by Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. I’m excited to work with the Musical Theater, Music Ensemble & Electronic Music Production & Design Departments this year @Berklee - GREAT STUDENTS
And…I enjoyed teaching @ NYU -
‘Stage Presence and The Art Of Performance for the Clive Davis Dept of Tisch @NYU