Gay, Lesbian Center Celebrates Female Musicians in Kalamazoo
Six women will be featured in a concert to celebrate local female artists. The event, put on by the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, will take place Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bell’s Eccentric Café.
If you tune in to WIDR around lunchtime on Saturdays, DJ Disobedience plays a mix of soul, funk, R&B, jazz, and blues on her show Slip Back Soul. Just like her name implies, DJ Disobedience likes to play music that not only grooves but moves.
“Most of my music speaks to people, either in terms of thinking about social change or thinking about their relationship to love," she says.
"Now that doesn’t mean that I might not play…cause I do like some ‘get down, get funky, doesn’t have anything to do with changing the world’ music. But I don’t like to play music that denigrates anyone either.”
DJ Disobedience, also known as Michelle Johnson, always had a love for radio. As far back as third grade, Johnson was making mix tapes and mock radio shows. But for most of her life, Johnson never thought she could be a radio DJ—that was a man’s job.
“People don’t hand over microphones to women that often and especially the airwaves," she says.
"And so, I think it’s particularly important to have young women, and women more generally, to see us out there. Because I don’t want anybody—another female—to put off doing what I did as long as I did, because I thought that was just an arena that wasn’t open to me.”
DJ Disobedience will be one the women at Saturday's Pre-Pride Women's Music Festival.
Whether we're talking about women political leaders or women actors or women musicians, we have to up-sell them to get people interested
Tracy Hall is a former director of the KGLRC. She says Pre-Pride events like the fest started as a way to raise money and bring different groups to Pride.
“And this was a way to connect with women in the community whether they were allies or lesbians or some other identification," she says. "And yeah, I think we definitely have seen more women involved. And it wasn’t that women weren’t involved before, just not as high rate as maybe we had seen some men.”
This will be singer/songwriter Mechele Peters’ second time at the festival.
“I listened to old school country on the truck radio as a kid and you can definitely hear that in there, kind of inspired by those outlaws like Willie and Whalen—those kinds of guys. So, I think that comes across in my writing,” says Peters.
At the show, Peters will have demo CDs of her upcoming album called “Pretty Mess.”
“I think it’s pretty relatable for women," she says. "It’s just about life and loss and love and finding yourself again after a long time.”
Chicago country/rock artist Kimi Hayes will headline the event.
The lineup will also include Dana Scott of the Kalamazoo blues band Big Trouble, Stacy Koviak-Davison of rock band Treading Bleu, and for the first time, spoken word artist DC.
Tracy Hall says sexuality is a major theme in DC’s work.
“She started singing one of our patriotic songs. I can’t remember which one, maybe ‘America the Beautiful?’ And then went in to spoken word about this being her country as well and, you know, isn’t she basically a citizen, where are her rights? And it just…it stuck with me,” says Hall.
Mechele Peters says even though it’s an all-female show, there doesn’t have to be an all-female audience.
Hall says she enjoys women’s music festivals, but hopefully there will come a day when we don’t need them.
“I feel like in every area of our lives, our major institutions—you know whether we’re talking about women political leaders or women actors or women musicians—we have to up-sell them to get people interested. And I’m looking forward to the day that we just view both equally—men and women,” Hall says.