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Song Suffragettes Showcase Virtual Return on YouTube Live April 6th

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Monday nights at The Listening Room Cafe in Nashville belonged to Song Suffragettes. Five country music female singer-songwriters would come together to share their music and stories. Founders Todd Cassetty (Cassetty Entertainment) and Helena Capps started Song Suffragettes in 2014 with the sole purpose of supporting women in country music.

With the venue temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they have been working to bring the artists and fans back together. This coming week will see a virtual return of the show — from each artists’ home — Kalie Shorr, Michelle Pereira, Emily Brooke, Parker McKay, and Mia Mantia. The showcase begins promptly at 6PM CT on April 6th on the Song Suffragettes’ YouTube page.

Fans can click on the virtual tip jar to help support the performers who are struggling through this tough economic time.

Song Suffragettes. How did you decide upon the name, that in part, stands for a militant women’s organization that fought for their right to vote?

If it weren’t for the original suffrage movement applying pressure to the established political system, women would have never secured the right to vote. Our intention with Song Suffragettes is very similar: to apply pressure to the established music system to open up more opportunities for female singer-songwriters. And we do that by giving the best-and-brightest unknown talent a place to perform, to hone their craft, to build a community with other female creatives. There is so much great female talent that deserves exposure in the mainstream marketplace, and we’re doing all that we can to shine a light on that talent.

Would you say the roots of the Suffragettes also come from the early 1970s when Baby Boomers sought freedom from the confines of society’s mindset of ‘traditional roles’?

Female disparity exists in all corners of the music industry — from creatives to executives to production talent — so yes, we’re pushing back on those traditional roles. Without more females in the ranks, female music fans will hear fewer songs that reflect their own lives. We’re certainly experiencing that in the music that comes out of Nashville, but that underrepresentation of women exists in all genres and throughout all music related jobs. I have two young daughters and I want more music to reflect their point of view since that’s when music really matters to people…when it speaks to them.

What does the success of female musicians mean for women in society in whole?

Music is part of every culture, and culture should reflect the entirety of the lives that it represents. More female music will reflect more female perspectives which will empower more women in all aspects of life whether it be the financial industry, manufacturing, whatever. And with more empowered women comes a more balanced society that better sees and understands alternative points of view which makes us all more compassionate and tolerant. In our current us-vs-them climate, tolerance and compassion is something we desperately need more of.

Monday nights at The Listening Room Cafe. How was the venue selected?

Since ours is an all-acoustic show, it has a more laid back, intimate feel. I always say that the magic of a Song Suffragettes show is as much about the stories and the camaraderie between the songs as it is about the songs themselves. And that vibe lends itself to a “dinner theater” environment wherein you can enjoy a meal, a drink and just relax into the music and the stories. The Listening Room is an ideal venue for that.

Five up-and-coming female country artists in a one-hour weekly acoustic showcase. How important is it to have a stripped back show in a more intimate setting for the showcase?

[see above ;-)]

Who chooses the artists who will perform?

Every singer-songwriter who performs on Song Suffragettes has to come in and perform for me and Helena Capps first. It’s part of our process to not only vet their songwriting talent live but also to get to know them and to make them feel comfortable in the case that we invite them to come play the show. Helena books all the shows and is the engine behind all things Song Suffragettes.

Growing the all-female performance brand. Where have you looked for sponsorship?

We haven’t been overly aggressive in our search for sponsorships which is a shortcoming resulting from being a small operation. That said, there is zero downside to supporting female-centric causes in today’s climate. And given that we’ve had over 250 women perform on Song Suffragettes, there are a lot of perspectives, creeds, cultures in our ranks for a brand to tap into, and we’d love to be the hub that facilitates those connections — as long as the messaging is pro-female of course. In short, we hope to attract more sponsor involvement in the near future.

Was Kalie Shorr’s “Fight Like a Girl” the ‘song’ inspiration for the showcase?

Kalie played in the very first Song Suffragettes show when we started six years ago. She and two other Song Suffragettes (Haley Steele and Lena Stone) wrote “Fight Like A Girl” about a year after we started the show, and the song was in large part a commiseration about the state of the Nashville music industry. Once I heard it, it seemed like a great thematic accompaniment to what we do at Song Suffragettes so we were happy to support the song in every way we could.

Which other songs by female singer-songwriters would be on a Song Suffragettes playlist?

That is a tough question since we hear more female songs than anyone else in Nashville. In fact, when I hear record execs say that they just don’t hear any great songs out there for females, I always push back and say that they’ve never asked me because I can play them one great female song after another. And for the record, when I do that, they never tend to follow up (which is telling). I do know that our Song Suffragettes are inspired by some of the few female songwriters who are thriving in Nashville today. In fact, we honor one of those songwriters each year with our Song Suffragettes Yellow Rose of Inspiration Award. So far, we’ve celebrated Liz Rose and Laura Veltz with that honor.

How did Taylor Swift’s success shake up the economic model for women in country?

From our perspective, Taylor motivated thousands of girls and young women to pick up a guitar and write songs. So many of the women we meet list Taylor as a musical inspiration, and that’s fantastic. That said, Taylor’s success didn’t shake up the macro economic model for women in country music because the opportunity deficiencies for women have continued — essentially unchanged — for 20+ years. So as great as Taylor is and as inspiring as she’s been to thousands of female singer-songwriters, there has been no economic trickle-down in the macro for other talented female singer-songwriters.

Radio Disney Country has played mostly female artists since it started in Los Angeles. Can it be a model for other stations to recognize the importance of playing the best songs with a fair gender mix?

100%. Radio Disney Country (RDC) is the undisputed radio champion of females in the country music space. And what I admire most about them is that they never succumb to the “you should be playing this because everyone else is” pressures that the major record label establishment tries to place on them. RDC knows who they are and who their audience is and is a beacon of hope for women in country music. I challenge anyone to download their app, listen and not enjoy discovering great music (female and male) that they can’t hear anywhere else on radio. Also to their credit, RDC walks the walk by supporting Song Suffragettes throughout their social media and through their “Let The Girls Play” radio programming — a daily radio feature hosted by Song Suffragettes Kalie Shorr and Savannah Keyes.

How can fans best support women in country to be heard more on radio?

Unfortunately, the way corporate-driven terrestrial radio is programmed these days, calling a radio station to request a song is ineffective. Fans are more helpful seeking out and listening to female artists on streaming services to help drive up their streams so that record labels, radio stations and concert promoters might notice those artists and give them real opportunities based on streaming signals of potential success. Similarly, go see shows by up-and-coming female artists, buy their merch and talk about them on social media. All of those components can aggregate to advance a woman’s music and career.

What prompted the Song Suffragettes to plan an overseas tour?

As the climate for female music in the U.S. continues to flounder, we discovered that there’s a greater appreciation overseas for singer-songwriters along with no tangible disparity against females. Given that, we’ve had many requests to start satellite Song Suffragettes shows overseas, but none of those opportunities fully materialized (mostly due to logistical reasons). So when we were approached by AEG Europe last year about doing an overseas Song Suffragettes Tour (after they came to one of our shows in Nashville), it was a no-brainer. AEG’s enthusiasm for what we do and appreciation for the talent we’ve amassed makes them a perfect partner. Of course, the Coronavirus Pandemic is unfortunately forcing us to push those dates back, but we’re diligently working on the new dates and look forward to announcing those very soon.

Happy 6th Anniversary. What has been the most challenging obstacle from the past six years?

Currently, the most challenging obstacle has been the expansion of our shows and messaging. Selling out The Listening Room every Monday night is fulfilling and we’re very proud of that, but given that there’s still been essentially no progress for female music over the last six years, our dream is to expand our show and messaging further so that we can expose more talented women directly to more fans and provide them with more opportunities accordingly. Since the system is remiss — or at best slow — to move the ball forward for females in a significant way, our current strategy is to find ways around the broken system and an expansion of the Song Suffragettes brand and show could do that.

Can you share some of what is being planned to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment later this year?

That planning was in the early stages when the Coronavirus Pandemic hit so we’re not sure how things are going to progress at the moment. That said, we’ve been contacted by multiple groups and organizations about Song Suffragettes participating in various 19th Amendment celebrations. And all I can tell you at this point is that we’re going to participate in as many as we possibly can.

What has The LSSW Group’s sponsorship meant to the Song Suffragettes?

Obviously, The LSSW Group’s sponsorship provides some financial security to our mission — especially given that we’re a small organization with limited resources. That said, their support has meant much more since they didn’t just write a check and walk away. They are committed to helping us expand our mission and expose the fantastic music from our talented female musicians. They include us in multiple initiatives, and we’re very proud to be a part of their universe — a universe where powerful women support other powerful women.

#LetTheGirlsPlay

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