Singing the tune of powerful females

On March 25, Dr. Maureen Mahon will discuss how dominant views of gender, race, sexuality, and genre affected the careers of African American women in rock and roll such as Philadelphia's Patti LaBelle (pictured).  
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Women’s History Month is meant to highlight the contributions of women in history and contemporary society, and during the last week of March, Philly has plenty to celebrate. During the duration of the month commemorating the female focus on society, there will be two musical events honoring women from all over the city and beyond. 

First is the African American Museum in Philadelphia’s event on March 25, and the second will be a live virtual recording taking place on Wednesday, March 31. 

The AAMP’s event is meant to “celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing the often-overlooked history of Black women in rock and roll music.” The cultural organization partnered with the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania for a live virtual conversation with author Dr. Maureen Mahon, who at the event will be discussing her book ‘Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll.’


The release states that Black women have played a pivotal but largely unappreciated role in rock music, from laying its foundations and singing chart-topping hits, to influencing some of the genre’s most iconic acts. In Mahon’s book, readers will peruse the history of African American women in rock and roll between the 50s and 80s. Mahon details the musical contributions and cultural impact of artists like Tina Turner, Philadelphia’s own Patti LaBelle, and New Jersey’s the Shirelles. During the panel, Mahon will discuss how dominant views of gender, race, sexuality, and genre affected those women’s careers. 

The conversation taking place on March 25 will feature Dr. Deborah Thomas and Dr. Guthrie Ramsey of the University of Pennsylvania and Dejay Duckett, Director of Curatorial Services at AAMP, who will serve as the moderator. Museum members will have access to the virtual showcase for free, and general admission is $8. To register, visit as advanced registration is required.

The event on March 31 will be hosted by Women In Musicthe industry’s leading nonprofit working to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment and recognition.

According to the release, WIM is hinging the event around the “what is your power as a woman in music” question and calls-to-action to stay engaged and get involved past Women’s History Month, highlighting the unified, diverse and collective power of women in music. The virtual event will be filmed live on the last day of the month with two artist performances and paneled women. In addition, part of the discussion will be to share stories of women who have moved the needle in the music industry. 

The discussion at this time will include: Noelle Scaggs (Fitz & the Tantrums / Founder, Diversify the Stage), Ebonie Smith (Atlantic / Founder, Gender Amplified), Emily Lazar (Founder, Chief Recording Engineer, The Lodge / Founder, We Are Moving the Needle), Grace Lee (Head of YouTube Artist Relations, East Coast / Co-Founder, Asian American Collective, Ty Stiklorius (Friends at Work), Adina Friedman (Friends at Work), Tracy Gershon (Change the Conversation), Ali Harnell (Live Nation Women.) The event will also feature pecial appearances from Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile and Maisie Peters.  

Women in Music partnered with She Knows Tech, She is the Music, Elektra Women, Beats by Girlz, She.Said.So, Sound Girz and Sheroes Radio for the event, and more information is available at 

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