This week we celebrated the centenary of International Women’s Day with a show dedicated to my favourite Aussie female singers. Some are solo performers and others front bands but the thing they all have in common is that they are strong, talented and inspiring women.
We opened the show with Christine Anu’s version of I’M A WOMAN. It’s from her Intimate and Deadly album, which was recorded live at the Sydney Opera House Studio and released in November 2010. Christine is presently performing in London with the production The Sapphires, the Australian play about a singing group of four Koori women who tour Vietnam in 1968, a year after the referendum expanding the rights of Aborigines.
It’s 100 years since the first International Women’s Day event was run. Did you know that in 1911 more than one million women and men attended rallies, campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination? Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but there’s still work to be done.
Renee Geyer knows all about what it’s like to try and make it in a man’s world. She has long been regarded as one of the finest exponents of jazz, soul & R&B in this country and her version of James Brown’s IT’S A MAN’S WORLD brought her well-deserved commercial success in 1974:
Local girls Melia and Nerida Naughton are Scarlett Affection, a multi-talented duo with lots to say about love and life in their own unique folk/pop style. Their song ROMANTIC is one of my favourites; it’s from their album Our Sweet Ambush.
When it comes to Aussie rock, Suze De Marchi of The Baby Animals has to have one of the best voices out there. Here’s the band performing ONE WORD in 1991:
Another of the stars of the stage show The Sapphires, presently wowing them in London, is Casey Donovan. She was very young, only 16, when she won the Australian Idol competition a few years back, but she weathered the instant fame train and is now creating a substantial career in musical theatre. Here she is kicking off her BIG, BEAUTIFUL & SEXY tour, when she took to the stage of the famous Spiegel Tent in Adelaide SA, at the 2010 Fringe:
In China, Armenia, Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria and many other countries International Women’s Day is an official holiday. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues etc. with flowers and small gifts. Gotta love that!
You’ve also gotta love Darwin singer Leah Flanagan. We played her very appropriate track, PRETTY GIRLS. And then it was pop/dance duo Madison Avenue, with Cheyne Coates on vocals. She does a great job on the wonderfully assertive WHO THE HELL ARE YOU. That girl knows how to put an outfit together too!
Deborah Conway has weathered the ups and downs of a fickle music industry and these days is finding happy harmony between family and fame. SPOKEN LIKE A MAN is from the album Half Man Half Woman.
The wonderful Christa Hughes, with her Dad Dick, blew everyone away at the last Mullumbimby Music Festival. Here they are on the ABCTV show ‘Spicks & Specks’ with a version of Memphis Slim’s BEER DRINKIN’ WOMAN. And as the clip shows, this girl could drink most of you under the table! (not sure if that’s a good thing though!)
Mama Kin sang I’M GONNA DO IT from her Beat and Holler album and then it was Tin Pan Orange with Emily Lubitz and her amazing lead vocals on THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE.
The year 2010 was a busy one for Megan Washington and the album I Believe You, Liar. She picked up two ARIA awards – Best Female Artist and Best Breakthrough Artist, and broke records with sell out shows around the nation. Here she is with footage from her EPK, talking about her hit album I BELIEVE YOU LIAR, where she discusses the themes and style she pursues in her songwriting.
Another terrific singer/songwriter is local Byron girl Sarah McGregor. She may not be as recognised as others at the moment, but she has already produced a number of albums that I totally adore. One of my favourite songs is MORE TO LIFE.
A group which also established themselves here in Byron Bay, before knocking everyone out both in Australia and overseas is Blue King Brown with Natalie out front. This is the kind of music that gets you out of your seat and moving! And its political! Love them. And love the song COME AND CHECK YOUR HEAD.
Kasey Chambers’s song NOT PRETTY ENOUGH was released in 2001 and is from her album Barricades and Brickwalls. Chambers became the first country artist to have a #1 single and album on the charts simultaneously.
Back in 1985 the standout female artist was the iconic Ms Chrissie Amphlett of the Divinyls. Watch this video and you may understand why her aggressive, psycho-sexual persona freaked out US record label wowsers who wanted their women blonde, deferential and subservient. Yes, there’s a fine line between PLEASURE & PAIN.
A very different kind of performer, and a fantastic songwriter as well, is Little Birdy’s Katy Steele. She’s now living in New York and has gone solo, and there’s nothing but blue sky ahead for her. Here she is with Little Birdy’s HAIRDO:
Katy Noonan has a sublime voice and its demonstrated to perfection on her cover of Soundgarden’s BLACK HOLE SUN.
Here’s Vanessa Amorosi’s #1 single and neo-feminist anthem, THIS IS WHO I AM. “I don’t care if I’m fat or if you think my clothes are bad. I can go to sleep at night. I’m a good person and I’ll get by.” You go girl!
There were lots of requests for Sarah Blasko and it was difficult to choose just one song from her repertoire but I do love ALL I WANT. It’s from her album As Day Follows Night.
Two great groups with amazing female singers are The Waifs and The Audreys. The Waifs are a folk rock band from Western Australia which includes sisters Vikki Thorn (hamonica, guitar, vocals) and Donna Simpson (guitar, vocals), The Audreys line-up includes the very talented Taasha Coates on vocals (and a variety of instruments). So, it was FISHERMAN’S DAUGHTER from the Waifs and the very funny NOTHING WRONG WITH ME from The Audreys
I’m gong to be away for a couple of weeks so I thought it was fitting to include Julia & Angus Stone’s song BIG JET PLANE. Yes, I know that Angus is quite dominant on this one, but it just goes to show that men and women can collaborate and produce some very beautiful music!
I know that many of the younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ but us old feminists know that there is still a lot of work to be done. Yes, there are more women in the boardroom, there is greater equality and we have some impressive role models in all walks of life. But the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics and, globally, women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made and today women do have real choices, so let’s celebrate the positive and, here’s an idea, let’s make every day International Women’s Day. Let’s all do our bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
Although I won’t be here for the next two weeks, fear not as Theme Park will continue with the lovely Des in the hotseat. Who knows what fabulous themes he’ll be bringing you because I’m giving him a free hand! Could be scary!
No blogs for that period, but make sure you listen in on http://www.bayfm.org
Here’s this week’s playlist:
I’m A Woman - Christine Anu, Intimate And Deadly
It’s A Man’s Man’s World – Renée Geyer, The Ultimate Collection
Romantic – Scarlett Affection, Our Sweet Ambush
One Word – Baby Animals, Baby Animals
Big, Beautiful & Sexy – Casey Donovan, Big, Beautiful & Sexy
Pretty Girls – Leah Flanagan, Leah Flanagan Band
Who The Hell Are You – Madison Avenue
Spoken Like A Man – Deborah Conway, Half Man Half Woman
Beer Drinkin’ Woman – Dick and Christa Hughes, 21st Century Blues
I’m Gonna Do It – Mama Kin, Beat And Holler
The Bottom Of The Lake – Tinpan Orange, The Bottom Of The Lake
Down On Love – Sarah Blasko, As Day Follows Night
I Believe You Liar – Washington, I Believe You Liar
More To Life – Sarah McGregor, More To Life
Come And Check Your Head – Blue King Brown
Not Pretty Enough – Kasey Chambers, Barricades & Brickwalls
Pleasure And Pain – Divinyls, Make You Happy 1981-93
Hairdo – Little Birdy, Never Mind The Lipstick
Black Hole Sun – Katie Noonan, Time To Begin
This Is Who I Am – Vanessa Amorosi, Hazardous
All I Want – Sarah Blasko, As Day Follows Night
Fisherman’s Daughter – The Waifs,
Nothing Wrong With Me – The Audreys, Between Last Night and Us
Big Jet Plane, Angus & Julia Stone
Next 3 weeks: DES IS IN THE HOTSEAT WHILE I’M AWAY