For many, this past weekend was a celebration of renewal and awakening in honor of the Easter holiday. Coupled with the Spring season upon us, the essence of vitality and hope had me thinking a lot about new energy and new life, providing a sense of empowerment as we move deeper into 2013. As such, my playlists of inspirational songs have been playing in heavy rotation, which prominently feature many women artists.
During this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (see previous post), UN Women launched their own theme song celebrating and connecting women throughout the world as an anthem forward towards a more equal and better tomorrow across the globe. Over the past month here in the US we have experienced several events that have both connected and divided women from the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to the discussions surrounding women, leadership and work-life balance to debates surrounding sexism in the tech community. And it got me thinking about songs to rally women or elicit a sense of empowerment. While I could give you a much longer list, here are five of my favorites. Hope you enjoy and please share some of yours!!! (Men if you would like to chime in with your own personal empowerment songs, it would be some interesting fodder for dialogue).
Sing it with me, “If I have to, I can face anything, I am strong (Strong), I am invincible (Invincible), I am woman!!!” The music and wording might be a bit outdated and overkill to some, but I can’t think of a better time to revive this Grammy-award winning rallying cry for women to take action. As the tagline of my blog relays, “A Revolution led by Women Joined By Men,” this quintessential empowerment anthem calls for women to rise and be heard, yet still acknowledges that dialogue and support from men is essential to make lasting change. “I am woman watch me grow…but I’m still an embryo with a long, long way to go, until I make my brother understand…” So, women, let’s roar!
This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry by Ani DiFranco. Her perceived persona and fan base aside, her lyrics often illuminate important gender dynamics with the impressive articulation that only the perspective of a woman could relay. She is able to challenge typical patriarchal song writing and power structures without merely reversing the message but to do so in a frank and complex way that often acknowledges the frailty and struggles on both sides of the coin. The song chosen here, Little Plastic Castle, holds the promise that any of us anywhere, “in a coffee shop, in a city, which is every coffee shop in every city, on a day which is every day,” can stand up for our rights and be ourselves despite the closed minded who see us in “two dimensions, like lip stick is a sign of our declining mind.” Instead, let’s be loud and proud and let them “call the girl police and file a report,” for our so-called outrageous demands that we refer to as human dignity and equal rights.
Dar Williams has been rocking out on the folk/indie scene for quite some time bringing women (and men) together with her unique style and quirky but amusing storytelling skills. She has a savvy ability to wisely and humorously address a variety of topics including the intricacies of relationships and gender perspectives from a various dimensions within her songs. This song, “As Cool as I Am” is a refrain of renewed independence and the value of solidarity with and among women, but hey “I’m not that petty, as cool as I am, I thought you’d know this already, I will not be afraid of women, I will not be afraid of women”!!!
Listening to women with power in their voices, upbeat strumming, and a message of enlightenment along with college nostalgia, “The closer I am to fine.” For over 25 years, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers who make up the Indigo Girls have been pioneers and icons for many women in the folk/indie scene and on the side strong and vocal supporters of both LGBT and women’s rights. While the song itself is not necessarily gender specific, the melody and lyrics gives one hope for “more than one answer to these questions, pointing us in crooked line…” It is a call to shift the paradigm out of the conventional or accepted wisdom and for women today, it seems like a well-placed idea to speak up and “give <us> insight between black and white.”
“Happiness hit her like a train on a track, Coming towards her stuck still no turning back…” Something about the beat and growing intensity of the music, Florence’s powerful voice that packs every song with a punch, and the message that relays a sense of freedom and new beginnings keeps this one in rotation for me. Perhaps I’m also influenced by the fact this song was used in the trailer for the film version of a favorite book, Eat, Pray, Love. While the excursion taken by the author is still on my list of things to do, this song encapsulates the ideology of being removed from the shackles that hold you down, to “leave all your love and your longing behind, you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive…” In the end, there is nothing like the feeling that the “Dog Days Are Over,” with great things ahead for the heroine in each of us.