“Honey & Healing”: Fourth Annual Women Who Rock unConference & Film Festival, April 24-26, 2014

The Women Who Rock unConference & Film Festival returns for its fourth annual celebration this month with a series of three free events, open to audiences of all ages. This year, Women Who Rock centers on “Honey & Healing.” According to event organizers, this theme “acknowledges the sweetness we allow ourselves as women who resist, survive, and practice resilience, demonstrating how women have brought community together to heal through the arts and create beauty out of oppression.”

This year's celebration has been organized by UW scholars Sonnet Retman (American Ethnic Studies), Michelle Habell-Pallán (Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies), Angelica Macklin (Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies), Monica de La Torre (Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies), Christa Bell (Cultural Studies, UW Bothell), Carrie Lanza (Social Work), as well as Lulu Carpenter and Mako Fitts

Festivities start Thursday, April 24, at 5:00 pm at Washington Hall (153 14th Avenue) with “Afrolatinas Who Rock: Warming Up the Honey.” This event honoring Afrolatinas in the arts is organized by MÁS: Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle and includes films, discussions, music, and dance.

The Women Who Rock unConference begins on Friday, April 25, at 3:00 pm at Washington Hall with a community altar and calavera building workshop. Participants can also visit the Green Bodies “The Mix” Market onsite, which features art and goods by local artisans, and attend a film festival at 5:30 pm, co-sponsored by Native Voices. A community jam session takes place at 6:30 pm featuring Seattle Fandango Project, Yakima Fandango Community, Women’s Caribbean Steel Pan Project, and hip hop artist Julie C.

At 8:00 pm, legendary singer, songwriter, composer, and educator Evelyn Harris provides the keynote lecture and performance. Formerly of the Grammy-nominated women’s a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, Harris has dedicated her voice to giving depth and meaning to an array of musical styles, creating stirring interpretations of African-American traditional and contemporary material, freedom songs from around the world, jazz, pop, rock & roll, gospel, and blues. Throughout her career she has collaborated with an array of writers, scholars, and artists, among them Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, June Jordan, Sonia Sanchez, Lenelle Moise, Charles Neville, Odetta, Glory Van Scott, Horace Boyer, Zap Mama, and Take 6.

Harris’ keynote is followed by a performance by 206 Zulu who will bring the evening to a close with local emcees and b-girls.

Activities continue on Saturday, April 26, at 10:00 am at The Bush School (3400 E. Harrison Street) with “Spiking the Honey,” a discussion and performance unpacking the power of the female in punk rock. Featured speakers include punk legend Alice Bag and Jessica Mills of Nigh Train.

On the UW campus, Women Who Rock is building a crossdisciplinary curriculum that examines cultural production and feminist activism from a scholarly perspective and helps students develop skills to generate multimedia forms of scholarship in critical, feminist decolonizing theoretical frameworks. Last year, the group launched the Women Who Rock Digital Oral History Archive. Hosted by the UW Libraries, its growing collection makes oral histories of women musicians, producers, culture makers, journalists, and scholars available to broader public audiences. This spring, Habell-Pallán and Retman are offering AFRAM 337/ GWSS "Rock the Archive: Hip Hop, Indie Rock and New Media," a class that explores popular music studies through the practice of archive building, oral history analysis, and digital scholarship.    

Women Who Rock has also hosted day-long mentorship workshops at the Simpson Center, during which UW graduate students who work on issues of gender and performance are invited to present their research to a group of specialists in the field—scholars, journalists, librarians, and artists. This year's participant include Mary Pat Brady (English, Cornell University), Daphne Brooks (English and African American Studies, Princeton University), Mako Fitts (Women & Gender Studies, Arizona State University), Kate McCullough (English and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Cornell University), Ann Powers (NPR), Sherrie Tucker (American Studies, University of Kansas), and Deborah Wong (Music, University of California, Riverside).

Women Who Rock’s goal is to generate dialogue and strengthen relationships between local musicians and their communities in collaboration with educational institutions.  All events—especially the unConference & Film Festival—are “D.I.W.O.”, or “do it with others.” Event organizers explain, “We emphasize community involvement and encourage attendees to participate in creating dialogue. We hope participants bring instruments, paintbrushes and other art supplies, beats, ideas, recording tools, singing voices, and dancing shoes to add to the mix!” 

For more information, a complete schedule of events, and to register, visit: www.womenwhorockcommunity.org  

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