Concert gives female artists a chance to ‘rock the mic’

Shelby Pendowski

With male artists consistently dominating today’s music charts, rarely are musical events devoted to all-female talent. The Ladies First Rock the Mic Poetry and Love of Music concert showcases only local, female musicians and poets — a fitting ending to Women’s History Month.

Spotlight Productions of Grand Valley State University has teamed up with nonprofit organization Ladies First Rock the Mic to host this year’s concert. The showcase takes place at 8 p.m. in the Thornapple room of the Kirkhof Center on March 28 and is intended to bring attention to and empower local female talent.

“It’s an annual thing. We partner up with them for the international women’s month,” said Spotlight Productions member Sarah Beamish. “We usually do the open mic night…and that is just for everyone, but this is for more established female musicians on campus.”

Ladies First Rock the Mic is a local organization that promotes female, independent artists in southwest Michigan. The concept occurred to founder DeeJay Word as his daughters danced to the Fergie and Lauren Hale tracks he was spinning.

“They would sometimes sing the stuff I would be playing and I saw that they loved music, so what I said to myself was, ‘Wow, when they get older and they’re old enough to actually produce and create and add onto music, I want them to be able to express themselves the way they want,’” Word said. “Not to have to necessarily fit into the norm of what the record companies are saying female artists have to do, but they don’t have to do anything, they can do whatever…and that is how it (Ladies First Rock the Mic) came about.”

After partnering up with other community members, performers and artists, Word began to bring the organization to a variety of venues and colleges around southwest Michigan. It was at one particular show in Kalamazoo that Word came into contact with GVSU students, who expressed their interest in the nonprofit organization. The students were attracted to its purpose of advancing feminine pride through educational entertainment.

“For the most part, our whole purpose is promoting phenomenal female talent in all genres of music as well as poetry, and from time to time we put on women empowerment seminars,” Word said. “We decided to do a little bit more educational things with it.”

The organization also helps local, independent musicians and artists learn the business by teaching the legality of copyright and how to market their work.

The lineup for this year’s concert not only includes musicians from around the area but also female GVSU students. The concert, hosted by Samara Philisophicles W., will feature performances by Soul Sister, Jeri Jazzy Wade, Queen-Naveronics The-Oracle (QUEEN), Kyera Allison (INTELLECT), Envy Rivercityslim Storm, Desi Taylor, Yodie Sky, Ashara Williams (FrivolousShara) and Ariana Hernandez.

The concert includes musical acts as well as spoken word poets.

“I think it is going to bring in a more diverse audience because a lot of the time our events are centered around people on campus. But this one easily draws people from outside areas, especially Grand Rapids,” Beamish said. “You get to see a side of people that maybe nobody knows.”

Word usually not only DJs the Ladies First Rock the Mic events but is also the technical director. However, for this particular concert, GVSU alumna Anastasia Rosa (DJ Rica) will spin the tracks to welcome the audience.

Although admission to the event is free, attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods for the food drive. All the food collected will go to the GVSU Women’s Center.