Dedicated to celebrating women working in the music industry, the sixth annual She Rocks Awards (Jan. 26) carried even more of an urgent tone this year in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Presented and produced by the Women’s International Music Network (WIMN), the sixth annual ceremony rolled out before a packed audience at the House of Blues in Anaheim, Calif.
Before getting down to the business of honoring trailblazers such as Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, the B-52s and Exene Cervenka, among others, WIMN founder and awards co-host Laura B. Whitmore talked about the organization’s ongoing mission. “I feel like we are finally being heard,” said Whitmore to applause. “From the beginning, the She Rocks Awards has focused on bringing women together to share, to empower and to enlighten. We must continue to build on the progress we have made. As we advocate, educate and inspire women in the music industry, we seek to bring women together to create a larger voice.”
Then it was time for the awards, with Whitmore’s co-host and KROQ Los Angeles DJ Kat Corbett noting that the icons being saluted are “the posters on my wall come to life.” Unfortunately, rock pioneer and Grammy Award winner Pat Benatar was sidelined by the flu and wasn’t there to receive her Legend Award. But among the honorees in the house was fellow Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge. Presented with the Icon Award, Etheridge distilled the essence of the evening through her illuminating comments.
“What a cool thing, She Rocks,” Etheridge began. “People are asking a lot of questions about women these days. They come up and say, ‘Did you guys ever have any trouble in rock and roll?’ There wasn’t enough of us to have trouble.”
At one point, she recalled visiting radio stations with her record rep in the ‘80s and hearing programmers say ‘Sorry, but we’re already playing a woman.’ And that, she noted, was a good time to kick doors down and keep doing it.
“Even though it has been next to impossible being a woman in the music business,” continued Etheridge, “we have succeeded and we have infiltrated every aspect of the music industry. We play the guitars and we rock; we play the drums and we rock; we work at the record companies and we rock; we discover the artists and we rock. We are a force to be reckoned with!”
The B-52s’ Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson accepted the Vanguard Award, while Exene Cervenka, co-lead singer/songwriter of legendary punk band X, received the Dreaming Out Loud Award. Also receiving well-deserved recognition via the Inspire Award: the mid-‘60s female band Fanny, whose fans included the late David Bowie. Now known as Fanny Walked the Earth — with an eponymous new album coming in March — the group was the first all-female rock band to sign and record a studio album with a major label.
However, the evening wasn’t just about those on the frontlines. She Rocks also honored females working in other facets of the music industry. including instruments, audio equipment, studio management, merchandising and media. Among this circle was Karla Redding-Andrews. The daughter of soul legend Otis Redding and executive director for the Otis Redding Foundation was saluted with the Champion Award for the foundation’s philanthropic endeavors, including music education. The evening ended with a rousing performance of Redding’s “Respect,” featuring the honorees and presenters backed by the evening’s female house band, Rock Sugah.
Award presenters included Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), Garbage’s Shirley Manson, singer/songwriter Sarah Jaffe, actress Ann Magnuson and Gretsch Company executive VP/CFO Dinah Gretsch. Integrated throughout the show were performances by Olivia Rox, the Command Sisters and Laura Clapp, among others. A silent auction featured items such as an Etheridge autographed acoustic guitar, a private tour of Capitol Studios, four hours of recording time with an engineer at the Republic Records studios and an online course with Berklee College of Music.
Last night marked the She Rocks Awards’ debut at its new home, the House of Blues Anaheim. The annual event coincides with the annual NAMM Show, which this year runs through Jan. 28.