Featured

(Un)Conference Group Project

Group 8:
Dalia M Perez, Alexander G Blum, Sarah Byron, Felicity Linville and Kira R Smith

On March 16, 2018, we had a blast at the Women Who Rock conference. This years theme was Dance the Archive and it was so fun to be able to get up and dance, especially around a stressful time like finals it was a great way to bond as a group and make connections with our community that we wouldn’t have able to make outside of this class. As a group we learned to communicate our goals with each other and hold each other accountable as the project was completed. The conference taught us the importance of culture but also that culture shouldn’t divide people but bring them together. Community building is an important aspect of this whole project and we are thankful for the chance to have had a space to be free and expressive while enjoying great music. We chose these photos because there was a lot of movement happening during the conference and we wanted to capture that energy. It was amazing to see everyone move along to the beat of the drums and dance along with the instructors. It was important to us to capture those leaders and the speakers that made the night amazing. We interviewed Adrianna and Carmen because we wanted to hear voices of those that bomba meant the most to them. The importance to music to connect with ones past and future was something the both of them taught us!

Photos

Title and Caption: Milvia Pacheco (left) and Iris Viveros (right). Where do I come from? (Performance). Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez

Archive category: Making Scenes, Reel Rebels – These wonderful women are using dance to tell an important story about identity and community so they are making scenes through their performance but also being reel rebels by telling their story about a deep social issue.

Title and Caption: Ivelisse Diaz (left), Denise Solis (middle) and Amarilys Rios (right). Bomba Workshop. Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.  

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez  

Archive category: Making Scenes – It is important to keep the beat with bomba, the drums speak to the dancer and the dancer speaks to the drums, this is a moment of making scenes as these musicians preformed.

Title and Caption: Denise Solis (left), Amarilys Rios (middle) and Jade Power Sotomayor (right). Jade Power Sotomayor Leading The Bomba Workshop Warm Up. Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez

Archive category: Making Scenes, Building Communities – Using bomba to connect it with the audience, Jade was hyping the crowd up to get excited to dance. Her performance made the scene and helped us understand what bomba could mean for us and helped boost up our energy. 

Title and Caption: Jade Power Sotomayor. Jade Power Sotomayor Leading The Audience In A Bomba Workshop. Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez

Archive category: Making Scenes, Building Communities – Here Jade taught us Yuba which is a step in bomba, using bomba within the women who rock conference was an amazing way to build a community through performance.

Title and Caption: Ivelisse Diaz. The Audience Dancing With Ivelisse Diaz. Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez

Archive category: Building Communities – By involving the whole crowd Ivelisse creates this sense of community and everyone has a stake in the larger movement of the women who rock social movement to create wonderful culture scenes.

Title and Caption: Jade Power Sotomayor (left), Amarilys Rios (middle) and Denise Solis (right). Amarilys Rios Discussing What Bomba Means For Her. Women Who Rock 2019 Conference. Centilia Cultural Center. Date: March 16, 2019.

Photographer name: Dalia M Perez

Archive category: Reel Rebels – By telling her story of what bomba means for her,
Amarilys is our feminist archivista. Stories about popular music and what it means for communities is important to hear. To her music is therapy and is a universal language to help bring communities together.

Interview

Interview Title: The Importance of Music and Dance in Culture

Interviewees: Adrianna Santana Offre and Carmen Offre Bensenti

Interviewer name: Sarah Byron

Transcription:

Sarah: What does this (Un)Conference mean to you? How does it allow you to express yourself? Why did you come today?

Carmen: This is the first time that I have heard about this conference. I heard a lot about it because I was involved in the bomba community here in Seattle for a short amount of time and then when I heard about the conference, I knew we had to come because it aligns with a lot of our values of helping women become confident and [helping women] find their voice. You know, we’re music lovers so we love to find ways to help women find confidence through art and music, and also to create community with music.

Adrianna: I heard that the bomba group was coming. For us, we’re Puerto Rican so bomba is part of our culture. I spent so much of my life denying that culture and that part of myself until this year. Learning about bomba has really helped me connect to my culture even though I’m not living in Puerto Rico, and I can see [the (Un)Conference] and be empowered as a Latina woman and also empower other women like my mom said.

Sarah: That’s definitely the same with me. My family and I are from Southern Africa – that’s where I was born and where I grew up partially. The bomba rhythms are very similar to Southern African rhythms, and so the way your body moves and the communication aspect between the dancer and the drummer is very similar to my culture. I use music as a way to connect with my culture as well.

Carmen: You know what is beautiful about this rhythm is that for African culture and for native culture of the Caribbean, they create a community via music. The festivities are always with drums and always with dancing. Whenever you come to one of these bomba events, you feel that. It’ a tradition that is four hundred years old and it’s still doing that – those rhythms are still creating community.

Sarah: So would you say that this conference is bring everyone together with this celebration of music and this collective engagement in dance and the conversations that arise from that. Would you agree with those sentiments?

Carmen: I agree for sure! The fact that we are celebrating this ancestry, bringing it to now-a-days, and we are still doing the same thing that people four hundred years ago did, in terms of bomba, is amazing. But now that I know about this conference, I’m going to try to come to all the ones I know about because if you bring music and art from so many cultures, I want to connect to all of them, not just mine. I want to connect to the world and create and even bigger community out of music and art.

Sarah: That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Do you two have any last remarks?

Adrianna: I think in the United States, we like to focus on differences in culture, but I think this conference just shows how similar different cultures are in certain way. This love for music and this love for dance – you can really find these similarities and get to know each other through them and learn that were not all that different.

Carmen: That is so true.

Live blog post 1: https://womenwhorockcommunity.org/2019/03/16/im-late-to-the-dance-party/

Live blog post 2: https://womenwhorockcommunity.org/2019/03/17/panel-why-bomba-matters/

Special thank you to our instructors Professor Michelle Habell-Pallán and Professor Sonnet Retman for the wonderful quarter and the great opportunity to participate in this conference it was a lot of fun ❤


Individual Blog Post Stream A #4

Felicity Linville

Recovering things that have been lost through the years is the theme I connected this week’s readings through. Hurtado’s piece was about how country music has its roots in Mexican music but over the years it has been coded as white. His argument was so compelling, and I had never even known about the Mexican influences on country music, maybe because I don’t listen to country, but it is also never talked about. After listening to the blue yodel of Jimmie Rodgers and examples of El Grito in Mariachi music I can feel the connection. Telling a new narrative about country disassembles the nationalism that white people equate to country music. “Mexican-American country fans she spoke with were not associating country music with conservative politics per se. Rather, folks she spoke to found country music to be relatable to their own cultural values, like loyalty to one’s family and a diligent work ethic. (Hurtado). It is amazing to know that Mexican-Americans are reclaiming country music and using it to represent their own culture. Dawes piece has the same theme of lost histories, the existence of Home Alive self-defense group had almost completely lost to history. The two students Therrien and Michaels struggled together to make a film that told this history. Through their work they were able to reclaim the notion of self-defense. To the Home Alive group, it wasn’t about victim blaming but defending and having confidence in yourself. Michaels answers the interviewer’s question about how self-defense classes are often codded as just women beating someone up by saying self-defense can mean “anything you do to feel strong and to feel like you are taking care of yourself, is going to make you safer.” (Michaels in Dawes). Not only did these students recover what has been lost it also helped reclaim what self-defense means for them, just like the Mexican Americans are reclaiming what country music means to them.

A song I want to bring to the table that enhance the most important aspects of these readings Hutado’s piece is Volver Volver by Vicente Fernández. It is an example of the El Grito that you can hear how the blue yodel was influenced by that style of singing. In the Dawes piece they mentioned that Home Alive published a 44 track CD and that was how word got out about them. A Song from that CD that stuck out for me was Guilt Within Your Head that features Mi Zapata, a member of Home Alive that was murdered. The song talks about how sometimes you create your own hell and I think that goes with the goal of the self-defense classes, understanding your internal struggles and take care of yourself can help make you feel safer.  

This song was so good

Critical Karaoke

Felicity Linville

Senior year of high school was a rough time for me. I struggled keeping up with college applications, working a part time job and being in a relationship that was one sided. This song was everything for me, it incorporated all my feelings at the time into one song. I listened to it over and over. Even one time I drove in the pouring rain, with no where to go trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life.

Relationships are hard when you’re young, I think we as a generation feel that connecting with someone is hard because we have no guarantee on how the future will turn out. I was planning on going off to college while he was planning to enlist in the military. He was convinced we wouldn’t be together after high school, but we stayed together for so long after we had that conversation. I should have ended it there, but I was I love. My freshman year of college he ended it, saying he needed to escape. I never understood why he wanted to escape me. I internalized this disaster and almost failed one of my classes because of it. A month later he called saying it was a mistake and wanted to get back together. He had hurt me so bad though and I needed to escape him. It was impossible to do that though with social media, and all our mutual friends.  Cage the elephant turned into my escape. I didn’t want to be depressed anymore but still need to feel something. I wanted the past to change, for the choices we made to be different, but I began to realize how toxic it was. The emotions that I feel in the song are longing for the past and wishing things could have been different. But in reality, looking for peace of mind is really what you’re doing. So sweet with a mean streak was a line that stuck with me, emotional abuse disguised as caring was something I didn’t realize was happening until after the relationship ended. My friends were my rocks while going through this and I helped them go through their own rough break ups.

The genre of alternative rock was so popular among my friends and I at the end of high school. I think we all needed a vent for all the mainstream culture that was being pushed down our throats by social media. We were all tired of the heavy expectations that were placed upon us to succeed. I just wanted to be able to relax. Music was a break from the stress. It remined us of our middle school days when these songs first came out. When we didn’t have to worry about the tests we have to finish, the applications we must submit, and the money we have to make to support ourselves.

As I stood there in the pouring rain, I was able to find the peace of mind. This sweet song played as I was able to have the strength to say that I will be fine. I will be okay. I don’t have all the answers, not even close to a clue but I do know that everything will be okay. That I was fine. That I would find someone else. That I would be happy.

Song: Cage the Elephant Cigarette Daydream. 3:31 long

Individual Blog Post Stream A #3

Felicity Linville

Punk music is a way in which youth can tackle political subjects in a way that makes sense to them. I think punk challenges the power structures and dynamics of society and create an environment for social change. In her piece “Its (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk” Mimi Nguyen says proposes action from a racial perspective “You (and I mean everybody now) can be accountable to your social location. Interrogate and historicize your place in society, punk, whatever, and be aware of how you talk about race, gender, sexuality – it’s political… Recognize power in all its forms, how it operates.” She addresses how people can take a stance in punk by addressing issues of race and to not ignore it, not seeing color is a big negative in her work. Ednie Kaeh Garrison in her piece “U.S. Feminism-Grrrl Style! Youth (Sub)Cultures and the Technologies of the Third Wave” addresses feminist political subjects and uses the Riot Grrrl movement as a tool to look at how they provided spaces for youth centered conversations about politics. She says it is important to “Recogniz[e] youth (sub)cultures as political spaces and refusing to separate political consciousness from subcultural formations.” Riot Grrrl is built around the idea that young girls are seen in society as not caring about being political and being loud and countering that. They gave a medium in which girls could have a safe space in the male dominated punk sphere and use that to talk about the power structures of society. Both Nguyen and Garrison encourage punk as a way for social change through a critique of the racism, feminism power structures, and other social issues.

Two songs I want to bring to the table that enhance the most important aspects of these readings are Improvised Weapons by War on Women and Feel by SATE. War on Women is a strong feminist hardcore punk band whose songs attack sexism and institutionalized patriarchy. SATE is a beautiful black woman making punk music, she is a part of the Sistas Grrrl Riot movement. The movement was formed back in the 90s when black girls felt they didn’t fit into the Riot Grrrl movement because it was too white and wanted to have a space for punk women of color.  

Critical Album Review

Felicity Linville

Amine arrives at a time where rap music has turned from the nostalgic hip hop in the 90s lyricism and social commentary into only producing songs to make it a hit. Amine is a refreshing voice of joy; his positive up beat sound is much needed as us millennials are struggling to find our place in this crumbling climate. Amine is from Portland, a city who has never produced a notable rapper but that didn’t stop him from making it big. I make the following claim about Amine’s album Good For You: that his album addresses contemporary issues of racism. I will use specific examples of his songs REDMERCEDES, Caroline and Turf as evidence to support my argument that he deals with racism through his upbeat style.

Star and Waterman in their textbook about the Sources of Popular Music talked about how in the 1840s to 1880s blackface was a popular genre of culture, though they say it ended in the 1900s but moved onto more of a subtle appropriating I know that it continues today. Amine touches on this political context in his song “REDMERCEDES” in which the music video is him employing whiteface to make fun of white people trying to preform blackface.

A lot of people were angry at Amine for doing whiteface, but they failed to miss the point of commentary. The white characters he is playing during the music video act like fake black people, he is making the relationship between the theft of black culture and how ridiculous white people look while doing it. The whole music video for the song is hilarious and Amines originality shines through in the production. From dance moves from black artists, to saying the n-word “white urban youth culture, which sought to express its independence by appropriating black style” (Star and Waterman 13). Amine is coming from a larger social and historical context of the theft of black culture. The relationship between the politics of cultural appropriation and his style of preforming as an artist is, he adds humor and joy to a sensitive topic.

The white-faced characters in the video for “REDMERCEDES” walk into a black owned car dealership and the owner tells the clerk to watch them. This is a commentary of how when black teens walk into pretty much anywhere the white people are instantly on edge and watching them to make sure they don’t steal. Author Jeff Chang said in an interview “I’ve always listened to hip hop with that kind of an ear, listening for the seams and where the seams start coming apart, in terms of what it seems to be as popular music, as a critique of society and the economy, and the larger context of the right now.” (Riley 2012). During a video he reminds white fans while about to recite the lyrics to Caroline “Killa, westside if you ain’t black don’t say it” to not say the n-word because he knows that a lot of his fans are white and have been guilty of yelling it out during his concerts.

Amine is very conscious about race and the discussions society has been having about who has the right to spaces and words. He is very sly about incorporating the phrase into his performance, continuing in his happy mannerisms and the audience laughs along with him.  Combine this with his entertaining music video for “REDMERCEDES” really speaks to the way that Amine addresses race in his own goofy manner.

A lot of the way we think of hip-hop has to do with the feminist perspective and that Joan Morgan called “Hip-hop feminism;” it “is concerned with the ways the conservative backlash of the 1980s and 1990s, deindustrialization, the slashing of the welfare state, and the attendant gutting of social programs and affirmative action, along with the increasing racial wealth gap, have affected the life worlds and worldviews of the hip-hop generation” (Durham, Cooper, Morris 722). Portland has had a big issue of gentrification and not allowing people of color to move into decent homes. Amine in his song “Turf” he talks about out growing his home town but not only that he says “They kickin’ out the blacks and all the houses getting clones/I look around and I see nothing in my neighborhood.”

The rents in Portland have risen and a report published last April by the Portland Housing Bureau said, “the trends are especially troubling for the average Black, Latino, Native American, and single-mother households in Portland, for whom there are no neighborhoods in the city where they can afford to rent.” Amine is speaking to the larder social and historical context of the displacement and gentrification of blacks in Portland. Portland has had a history of excluding blacks, even having a law in its constitution that would not allow blacks form living in the state and punished those who remained.

The rhythms and upbeat style in Amines album Good for you is not only an entertaining listen but he also addresses contemporary issues of racism. Songs like REDMERCEDES, Caroline and Turf have served as evidence to support my argument. He gave hints in a New York Times interview that he would consider going into politics. His music is refreshingly joyful but also woke and is something our generation needs right now.

Citations:

Starr and Waterman, “Introduction” and “Streams of Tradition: The Sources of Popular Music,” American Popular Music (2008) online access at UW Libraries http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/gpo1267/american-popular-music.pdf
Bill Moyers Show interview, Theresa Riley with Jeff Chang, Q & A: Still Fighting the Power. 

Aisha Durham, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris, “The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay,” Signs, Vol. 38, No. 3

Critical Modes:

https://www.npr.org/2018/05/11/610424450/rapper-cardi-b-expands-her-musical-range-on-invasion-of-privacy

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/joji-ballads-1/

Individual Blog Post Stream A #2

Felicity Linville           

When I think of hip-hop, I most definitely think of politics, the two go hand in hand for me. Especially in 2019 when rappers like Kanye are going to the white house and helping make prison reform bills to help incarcerated women. Hip-hop, no music in general is a way that artists and listeners make sense of the world. It reflects our anger, our happiness, the pressures we face and the disappointment of society’s structure. Author Jeff Chang said in an interview “Although not all hip hop is exclusively political, a good amount of it speaks to the kinds of pressures that young people have been facing because of globalization, changes in policing and the incarceration of youth and oftentimes, the breakdown of institutions and structures in the communities that hip hop comes from” (Riley 2012). This claim is thought provoking and makes me think of artists like Lil Peep that became popular because of his open discussion about anxiety and depression. A lot of the way we think of hip-hop has to do with the feminist perspective and that Joan Morgan called “Hip-hop feminism;” it “is concerned with the ways the conservative backlash of the 1980s and 1990s, deindustrialization, the slashing of the welfare state, and the attendant gutting of social programs and affirmative action, along with the increasing racial wealth gap, have affected the life worlds and worldviews of the hip-hop generation” (Durham, Cooper, Morris 722). Our countries police system and social welfare is set up in a way to maintain white supremacy, both authors point out that hip-hop is a way to talk about topics like our political climate and spread it throughout our communities. Cardi B is another artist that comes in mind that connects these two pieces perfectly, she is a woman of color who is pro sex and is involved in our current political climate. She was just recently asked to give a talk to democrats after tweeting about immigration. I hip-hop has always being an avenue in which we can hear the voices of communities of color and I hope that never stops.

In Kanye West’s song “New Slaves”, he talks about capitalism and how that has turned us all into slaves of the system. He also talks about his mother grew up during segregation and how that continues today when sales clerks do not allow black kids to touch anything in the store because the employees think they will steal it. Tupac Shakur’s song “Keep Ya Head Up” is another hip-hop song rooted in politics, as in the Durham, Cooper, Morris piece they talk about “misogynoir the hatred of black women and girls,” his song is about empowering and respecting women, especially women of color (730).

Individual Blog Post Stream A #1

Women who rock aims to open the dialog of popular music to tell the stories of those excluded from the history. A quote that really stood out to me was when they were talking about the importance of the Archive. They said, “Medusa, the Angela Davis of hip hop, emphasized the importance of documenting the conference and collecting oral histories of women in music so that many more contributors can ‘add their voice and their muscle’ to the archive.” This really stuck in my mind when I was reading Mahons piece on Big Mama Thornton, she says “Thornton did not do any published autobiographical writing; as I listened to her music and learned about her life, I began to wish that she had. I wanted to find a way to get a stronger sense of the person behind that compelling voice.” (Mahon 3) This emphasizes the importance of having an archive like women who rock in order to have a better understanding and appreciation to the women who make the music we love. Many stories of women of color in music have gone untold, rewritten or in the case of Thornton she was “reduced to a symbol” (Mahon 4). Reshaping our conventional knowledge of popular music is one of the goals of the women who rock movement and I find this the most compelling claim, I’ve never thought about the history of popular music and reading about Big Mama Thornton and how her songs hound dog and ball and chain were essentially gentrified and stolen it made me frustrated that this story was not told more often.  

Two song I would like to connect to the readings we did are George Harrisons My Sweet Lord plagiarized The Chiffons He’s So Fine and Peter Hook admitted that New Order stole Blue Monday off Donna Summer’s Our Love. These are songs from women of color who were stolen and made famous by a white person. This is important to talk about and to let the original artist get credit. I hope that through the women who rock archive these artists will get the credit they deserve and that one day it would lead to them actually getting the money and recognition that they deserve. Giving voice to those who have been pushed aside is can hopefully lead to others can have the confidence to also do so as Medusa hopes.  

-Felicity Linville