If you missed this spectacular exhibit when it was featured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, from May 13, 2011 to February 26, 2012, you still have a chance to catch it at one of these stops:
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC: Sept. 7, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013
The Durham Museum, Omaha, NE: Feb. 2013 – April 2013
Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA: June 2013 – Sept. 2, 2013
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ: Oct. 19, 2013 – April 20, 2014
The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI: May 15, 2014 – Aug. 24, 2014
Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, a groundbreaking and provocative exhibit, illustrates the important roles women have played in rock and roll, from its inception through today. Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power highlights the flashpoints, the firsts, the best, the celebrated – and sometimes lesser-known women – who moved rock and roll music and American culture forward.
The interactive exhibition spotlights more than 70 artists. The exhibit features artifacts, video and listening stations, as well as a recording booth where visitors can film a short story or moment of inspiration related to women in rock. The exhibit moves through the rock and roll eras, weaving a powerful and engaging narrative that demonstrates how women have been the engines of creation and change in popular music, from the early years of the 20th century to the present. Women Who Rock is sponsored by PNC, Time Warner Cable and Biography.
In the 1920s, blues women like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were the first – and for a while, the only – artists to record the blues. Mother Maybelle Carter made the first country music recordings in 1927. American women of this era made great strides toward gaining equality and basic human rights for themselves and others in society, including attaining the right to vote and working toward social justice. The 20th Century was a wide-open opportunity for women to embrace the modern world, outside of the traditional bounds of the home. The narrative of these groundbreaking women will be presented along with the stories of trailblazers such as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Billie Holiday.
“How many of us know the names of the pioneer women songwriters/singers/musicians of the ‘50s?” is a question asked by Yoko Ono in her preface to She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll. Two names that the Museum will highlight in the emergence of rock are Ruth Brown and Wanda Jackson, the voices of two predominant roots of rock – R&B and country/ rockabilly, along with LaVern Baker and Brenda Lee.
Girl groups, though sometimes seen as puppets manipulated by unseen and mostly male handlers, were an authentic manifestation of the worldview of teenage girls – a group just coming into its own in the early 1960s and increasingly recognized for its growing economic power as consumers and arbiters of style. The girl groups reflected teenage girls’ explorations of their world, their limitations and their limitless potential. Groups like the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes give voice to those explorations and the possibilities that waited down the street or just around the corner.
American society experienced a revolution in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, especially for African- Americans and women. Janis Joplin was the finest white blues singer of her generation; female singer-songwriters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro bared their souls, and Aretha Franklin emerged as the Queen of Soul. Bonnie Raitt established herself as both a strong vocalist and brilliant guitarist. Highlighted artists will also include Tina Turner and Grace Slick, as well as country artist Loretta Lynn.
Women are in the center of the ‘70s mainstream, from Joan Jett and the Runaways, Heart and Fleetwood Mac to Donna Summer. The gains of the feminist movement throughout the ‘70s enabled women working in all areas of the music industry to assume more control over their careers.
Chrissie Hynde said, “That was the beauty of the punk thing: [Sexual] discrimination didn’t exist in that scene.” The DIY aspect of punk rock made it easier for a woman to find a place in music. Highlighted artists will include Yoko Ono, Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the B-52s, Deborah Harry, Tina Weymouth, Kim Deal and Marianne Faithfull.
Madonna unapologetically celebrated and monetized her sexuality and physicality, paving the way for female performers to explore previously taboo roles and take control of their image and career. Highlighted artists will include Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Janet Jackson.
The 1990s was the era the riot grrrl, the rapper and the Lilith Fair, reshaping traditional ideas of feminism and traditionally male-dominated areas of the music industry. Women have arguably become the leading voices of the industry, standing -- army-booted, bare-footed, or high-heeled stiletto -- toe to toe with any artist of today. Highlighted artists will include Bikini Kill, Meg White, Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga.buy tickets
"Occupying two floors and both handsomely mounted and thoroughly entertaining, the [Women Who Rock] exhibition strikes an agreeable tone by balancing a breezy overview featuring sexuality, fashion and a hint of scandal with a respectful nod to the musical, cultural and commercial achievements of the 60 or so women it has selected to commemorate."