From Ani DiFranco to Tegan & Sara, women’s music would not be the same without Cris Williamson. In 1973, Williamson, a lesbian singer/songwriter, mentioned in an interview that women should have their own record company, and this motivated a lesbian feminist collective to start Olivia Records.
In 1975, Williamson made history again when Olivia released her album The Changer and the Changed, one of the most successful albums ever produced by an independent label with more than 500,000 copies sold throughout the years. For decades, Williamson has continued to be a prolific musician who regularly tours with her albums.
South Florida audiences have two opportunities to experience Williamson in concert. On Friday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m., she will be at The Pride Center in Wilton Manors. A second concert will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Compass in Lake Worth.
In an email interview with SFGN, Williamson reflected on women’s music, building community and what she would say to the woman she was in the 1970s.
What were the goals of women’s music?
To create women's culture with women's money, music that was part of the consciousness-raising movements, the feminist and lesbian movements, and that reflected the lives of the women - and men, as well - who were deeply involved in changing the world around them.
Should there be collective goals for women musicians today?
The main thing for me is to make sure that no woman is being oppressed anywhere in all the world, and until that is accomplished, our work is not done.
Women’s music used to be a way to connect to community. But that sense of community seems to have disappeared. Can you share ideas on how lesbians are currently building and/or can build a sense of community with each other?
We knocked down doors and fences and opened the vistas to younger women who walk down the road as if it's always been there. Those of us from the '70s are older now, and sometimes look back with longing at those first, fresh days. Most movements have to reassert and redefine themselves, and make certain that one foot is in the past and one foot in the future, all the while dwelling in the Present. It's still important to reach out and encourage each other to come and participate in live music, and remember the importance of the real thing, and that it's always been a conversation.
Can you talk about your upcoming release Pray Tell: Songs of the Soul Volume I & II?
These songs began to appear, to fill the bucket I lowered into the Well. I have enough for two volumes now, all songs about Spirit, and Faith, and Mystery, and Hope and Joy, all things we need to be good human beings.
If you could speak to the woman you were when you recorded The Changer and the Changed, what would you say?
First, I would praise her for her bravery and for doing things she had never done, things that ended up meaning so much to so many. She saw a faint path and followed it with her heart and spirit. I've learned that becoming powerful is a life-long process and sharing that power is always a challenge, but share it we must. It's what women do.
If You Go:
What: Cris Williamson in concert
When & Where
Friday, Feb.15 at 7:30 p.m.
$15-$35 Sliding scale
More Info: Women In Network, 954-463-9005 ext 641 or visit http://womeninnetwork.com