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Country singer-songwriter Summer Dean is as outspoken in print as she is on wax. Courtesy Summer Dean

When I told my husband what I was about to tackle for this article for our inaugural women’s issue, he said, “Jennifer, women hate being asked about being a woman.” He wasn’t trying to mansplain anything. He was simply offering his expert advice. Spicoli is, after all, a radio personality with over 20 years of experience interviewing musicians.

In general, and as a woman, I tend to agree, but for the purpose of putting together a piece for an issue specifically about women, would female musicians be up for it? I was at least willing to put myself out there and try to find out.

Women have been involved in music since the dawn of time, but like they tell the gentleman who, when asked where the women speakers were at the March on Washington in The Glorias, responds that Mahalia Jackson will be performing: Singing isn’t speaking. So, I’m glad to play a small part in lifting female voices to a higher level beyond the stage in a scene dominated by mostly straight, mostly white guys.

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Question: As a woman in music, what do you love about your work? What do you hate? And if you don’t like the questions, why?

 

Because of her work over the past few years, Summer Dean feels that the future of women in music is going in the right direction. “I see more and more women getting good slots more often.” She doesn’t think that there are groups of industry people who intentionally avoid hiring women or playing their music. “That’s ridiculous, I think. It’s all about making money. They want whichever artist will sell tickets — a woman, a man, or whatever. There are fewer women in major roles only because of the concept of probability. Less to pick from means less on the roster.” Love: “I love that I work for myself and that the more I work, the better I get. Hard work is rewarded in this industry, even if it takes a lifetime. I love the camaraderie that goes with being on the road. If you poise yourself in the right way, a badass opportunity will come along.” Hate: Dean hates the overhead, the credit card debt, and the feeling of competition. “I also get frustrated and confused every time I try to navigate PROs, publishing, digital streaming rights, and sync/licensing, even though it’s a big goal to conquer.” As a woman: My gut told me that one or two artists I contacted would be less than thrilled with the womanly question. Dean does get weary of the as-a-woman questions but concedes, “Then again, I am one, so I will answer as honestly and gracefully as I can every time.” She uses her womanhood as a muse in many parts of her music career, like writing and branding. “I don’t ever want to get a job because I’m a woman but because I was the best one for the job.” For most of March, she is on the road, but once back in town, she will play a free show at The Rustic (3656 Howell St, Dallas, 214-730-0596) from 9:30pm to 11pm Fri, Mar 29.

 

Bethany Doolin loves exploring the female experience through her music and what that means on a deeper level.
By Blake Sexton

Frontwoman Bethany Doolin of Generational Wealth doesn’t think gender really factors into her feelings about work, though she doesn’t mind talking about all of it. Love: There are some things she loves about being a woman in music. “I love exploring the female experience and what that means to me on a deeper level. I get to sing about things I’d never actually do. Some of my songs are essentially texts that got put in my Notes app so I could write them, get them out of my system, but never send them.” Now, she gets to scream-sing them at people. (Doolin says she has therapy to thank for “that lil’ exercise.”) Hate: “This one’s a tricky question because I don’t feel like my gender plays much of a role in the aspects of my work that I don’t care for,” but she does hate beginnings. “I think the thing I hate most is the beginning of anything: starting a song, getting a gig, or even getting into music in the first place.” She compares it to when couples first start dating. “You’re so over the talking stage, and you just want to skip to sitting on the couch, watching TV, and comfortably farting around each other. Looking back, you appreciate the time you got to know this person, but it’s so hard when you’re in it. You want to skip steps crucial to building a solid relationship. That’s how I feel about my work. I can be so impatient, but I have to force myself to sit back and realize that things take time and a lot of hard work, but it’ll be so worth it in the end.” As a woman: Although they are all men and have completely different frames of reference, Doolin loves her Generational Wealth bandmates. Together, they jam out songs about “killing shitty boyfriends and telling that situationship to go fuck themselves.” She feels that her bandmates support her wholeheartedly and believe in the music. “They’re not turned off or intimidated by strong women, and I feel very lucky to have each and every one of them.” Generational Wealth has a few shows coming up: the Haltom Theater (5601 E Belknap St, Haltom City, 682-250-5678) on Thu; the Southside Spillover Fest at Tulips FTW (112 St. Louis Av, Fort Worth, 817-367-9798) on Sat, Mar 16; and at The Cicada (1002 S Main St, Fort Worth, @The_Cicada_FTW) on Wed, Mar 20, which is a new residency on the third Wednesday of every month.

 

Dominique Patton dee-jays under the moniker DJ Soft Cherry. The dog? DJ Soft Pup, of course.
Courtesy Dominique Patton

DJ Soft Cherry, the moniker of Dominque Patton, is one of only a few female DJs in North Texas, and people are noticing. Having made our readers’ Top 5 list for Best DJ, she moved on to our Music Awards 2023 ballot and won that, too. She kept the answer to my question short and sweet. Only love: “I love being a female DJ to challenge the status quo. I feel like men are still shocked that girls DJ and actually do a pretty damn good job.” The Weekly isn’t the only media outlet to take notice. DJ Soft Cherry is performing at the inaugural Women of Influence Luncheon, in which local philanthropist Dr. Cheryl Polote Williamson, founder of Cheryl Magazine, honors women of color for National Women’s History Month. The event is at Gleneagles Country Club (5401 W Park Blvd, Plano, 972-867-6666) 11:30am-2pm Fri, Mar 31. Tickets start at $100 on Eventbrite.com.

 

Communing via music is where it’s at for Hilary Tipps.
Courtesy Tipps & Obermiller

Like many women artists, Hilary Tipps started singing and performing at an early age at church and school, but she was also a member of the famed Texas Girls’ Choir. After attending UNT and Texas Wesleyan on performance scholarships, she embarked on a singing and stage career that took her across the globe. When she returned home, she met Steve Obermiller at a local music night, and they began performing as the folk duet Tipps & Obermiller. Love: Communing via music is where it’s at for Tipps. “There is a sweet spot where music transcends societal constructs, and we get to commune with this thing, and that is what I love.” Hate: Tipps feels that “hate” is too strong a word. “There are the challenges and magic, all tumbling around together like socks and shirts in the dryer. Particularly in music, though, when it is working, it is incredibly powerful.” As a woman: It is difficult for Tipps to speak as a woman in music because she feels she hasn’t walked in any other shoes. “Being ‘a woman in music’ is the same as being a woman in any business. Sometimes we are treated differently, and there seems to be less of us, but we are often intensely bonded and rooting for each other.” You can hear Tipps & Obermiller every first Wednesday of the month at The Cicada (1002 S Main St, Fort Worth, @The_Cicada_FTW) 8:30pm as part of a new residency with Rick Babb and Guthrie Kennard.

 

While Amanda Cuenca is no longer a member of the local alt-rock quartet Phantomelo, she is still very active in the music scene and has strong opinions.
Courtesy Phantomelo

Amanda “Panda” Cuenca is no longer a member of the local alt-rock quartet Phantomelo, but she is still very active in the music scene and has strong opinions. Love: What she loves most about her work is that it gives her opportunities to empower other women to fully express themselves. “Seeing the smiles on young girls and women of all ages never gets old.” Hate: As for what she hates, it has nothing to do with gender biases in music and everything to do with women’s rights. “The thing I hate the most about my work is that I live in a state where rights to my body have been taken away. Absolutely unacceptable.” Agreed.

 

Even as somewhat of a newcomer, Stacey Barefield feels welcome on the scene.
Courtesy Hazard County

As somewhat of a newcomer to the local scene, Stacey Barefield, who does lead vocals and plays bass for Hazard County, feels that Fort Worth has welcomed her and appreciates her talent without bias. Love: Barefield loves that the scene is full of musicians who work hard to see success in their own lives and careers and wish the same for their friends and acquaintances. “Everyone I’ve gotten to know over the past few years that I’ve been gigging has been so kind and willing to go out of their way to help other musicians find success, including sharing info about good venues, helping each other make important/profitable connections, and even passing gigs to other musicians if they’re unable to play themselves.” And she doesn’t feel that the community is genre-based or clique-y either. “You go to a local show, and you’ll see other artists there in the audience supporting their friends even if their musical styles are vastly different.” Hate: While Barefield didn’t list anything in particular that she hates — about being a woman in a male-dominated scene or otherwise — she is a bit disheartened by the closing of so many venues. “With so many talented musicians in the area, I’d hate to see anyone lose the opportunity to play simply because there aren’t enough places that have live music.” As a woman: “I don’t know if I can say anything specific about how gender plays a role in my work as a musician in Fort Worth — and I mean that in a positive way!” Hazard County will play College Night at Billy Bob’s Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 817-624-7117) 7pm Thu. Entry is free with a physical college ID.

 

Eve Rosja’ loves that she gets to connect with people through her music.
Courtesy Eve Rosja’

R&B band 4 Ya Soul frontwoman Eve Rosja’ let us know what she loves and hates with no reference to gender whatsoever. This musical “squad” (as they call themselves) has 10 or more men and women onstage at any given time during shows. Based on what we saw when they accepted the Best R&B award at our 2023 Music Awards, this crew exudes happiness wherever they go. “Started from the bottom, now we here” is her statement about where they are as a group. Love: Rosja’ loves that she gets to connect with people through her music. “Give them feel-good music for their soul. With so much going on in this world, music is the one thing that unites all of us. To know my music made someone smile, saved someone, or touched someone is the greatest reward/benefit of my work.” Hate: While the word “hate” didn’t come up, she shared what she sees as the hardest part of working in a very hard industry. “Getting fairly paid and appreciated for the music is [the] hardest part of the journey. It’s a lot of work behind the scenes, and you wish that venues and promoters understood that.” However, her fans and supporters have always kept her feeling uplifted. “They speak life into me and my career, and that’s why I can’t stop, won’t stop.” While based in Fort Worth, 4 Ya Soul is quite active all over North Texas. Their two March shows are at The Free Man (2626 Commerce St, Deep Ellum, 214-377-9893) 7pm Fri and Legends Bar & Grill (700 S Cockrell Hill Rd, Ste 100, Duncanville, 972-298-9991) 7pm Thu, Mar 28. Both shows have a $10 cover, but at Legends, ladies get in free until midnight.

 

Stephanie Bauer confidently commands the stage as a member of the punk outfit The Wee-Beasties and her metal band Maleficus.
By Bert Torres

While metal and punk are still very much male-dominated, strong women have carved out a place for themselves in those genres. Having the talent and work ethic to earn the ear of and train with legendary thrash guitarist Mike Scaccia of Rigor Mortis originally and Ministry later on, Stephenie “Blaise” Bauer confidently commands the stage as a member of punk outfit The Wee-Beasties and her metal band Maleficus. Did I mention she’s also a lawyer? Love: As a female guitarist, Bauer loves encouraging fellow women, young and old, to engage in music. “When I first started playing as a teenager, there weren’t many femme rockstars or guitarists, especially on the local level. Thankfully, this has changed dramatically throughout my time in music.” Hate: Working with men can have its drawbacks. “As magical as being a female in music can be, it is occasionally difficult when working with men who don’t value our skill or commitment to the art.” She finds that the vast majority of male players and fans are incredibly supportive but says there are a few she’s encountered over the years who have treated her like she can’t play or acted as if she is only successful due to her gender. Still, she says her encounters with disrespectful men have been limited and that they certainly do not speak for the whole. As a woman: Gender aside, Bauer finds music an incredibly therapeutic and rewarding way of life. “Once fully immersed, no other activity holds a candle to it.” You can see The Wee-Beasties at Rubber Gloves (411 E Sycamore St, Denton, 940-594-2207) Fri, Apr 19 or at Three Links ( 2704 Elm St, Deep Ellum, 214-484-6011) on Sat, Apr 20.

Read about women in film-making then and now in She Movies.

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