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Daniel Gumble

MI Pro’s US columnist, musician and WiMN (Women's International Music Network) founder, Laura B. Whitmore, reflects on another hugely successful She Rocks Awards…

Yes, the musical performances were incredible, bringing together acts like Karmin, Jennifer Batten, Raining Jane, Nita Strauss, Jenna Paone, Malina Moye, The Command Sisters and Rock Sugah for an evening of impeccable musical prowess.

Yes, there was a star-studded red carpet, a fabulous gear-laden silent auction, goodie-packed gift bags, and a who’s who of industry attendees.

But what really got the point across at the 2016 She Rocks Awards were the heartfelt acceptance speeches by the She Rocks Awards honorees. Hailing from all walks of the industry, these women shared their dreams, struggles and advice with a crowd of over 700 apt attendees.
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Here, for those of you who want the shorthand, are some of the more profound remarks that were shared that evening.

Mary Luerhsen, NAMM and The NAMM Foundation:
“This is really, really special. One thing I thought right away coming into the room is these are really some pretty fierce women up here…I had the profound experience of having a flute placed in my hands when I was very young. For really no reason except that the people around me believed that was the right thing to do. For me to devote my life to making sure that other children have this opportunity, it really goes deep. And for me to have the chance to work for NAMM and for the NAMM Foundation and for all of you, and for all of us together that can really believe in this opportunity for every child, I am so very grateful. And then to be told that I rock when I do it, it’s really, really cool!  Thank you! Let’s make sure every child has a chance to learn and grow with music!”

Mindy Abovitz, editor and founder of Tom Tom Magazine:
“I didn’t start Tom Tom Magazine because I thought there should be a magazine that exclusively covers girls and women, but because I saw a massive lack of media coverage of female drummers in the existing drum magazines and basically no effort to grow this massive new group of drummers in the music industry. I’ve always loved the freedom and excitement that drumming gives me and as I practiced more and more I recognized the true scope of what the drum set can offer to me as a woman that is far beyond what I had initially signed up for. Through drumming I learned discipline, confidence, proficiency, working in a team environment, the importance of being loud and taking up space amongst many other skills traditional reserved for boys and men to explore.”

Jennifer Batten, guitarist:
“In 1987 MTV was at its peak and I thought the female musician revolution had begun. But then progress seemed to stop for about 30 years. Now, finally, I think the real revolution has begun because of the access to the Internet. Now there is not a month that goes by that I am not turned on to some amazing female player from some spot all over the world that is just killing it. And often under 15 years old and sometimes seven! The purpose of this award is to be recognized as having had an influence. I’ve had some great highs in my career but at this time in my life it’s the exchange of inspiration that means the most to me. When I receive an email from a player that thanks me for being the spark that got them started, I couldn’t be prouder. To have gotten the notice that I would be receiving this award mid-tour was like a big thumbs up from the cosmos that I was headed in the right direction in paying it forward at this time in my life.”

Sujata Murthy, Universal Music Enterprises:
“Like many of the women here I set my sights on what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. At the time my personal goals and timelines had never been done by a woman my age, much less a minority woman. I’m proud to say I never looked at the way things were, I set out to do things the way they should be.”

Leslie Ann Jones, Skywalker Sound:
“My life seems to be very serendipitous and there’s no more proof of that than last night. I don’t normally mix live shows, but last night was a tribute to the wonderful folk singer Ronnie Gilbert, who passed away last year. Ronnie was a member of The Weavers, a very famous folk group in the ‘40s and ‘50s. She was a fierce fighter for unions and women’s rights, and before she died even for Black Lives Matter. The concert, like this, was all women, but from another generation. Women who performed in many cases for women-only audiences. I’d like to think things have changed because of those women who paved the way for events like tonight. And I want to thank Laura for doing this these last four years and for hopefully all the years to come. For honoring women for being women. We are different and that IS okay. It should be celebrated as it is tonight.”

Crystal Morris, Gator Cases:
“What an incredible evening so far. It’s such a room full of passion. That’s the whole thing about running a business. Every single day my goal is to bring passion to our business. It is so amazing to be part of an industry that is so welcoming to women. I’ve never once felt like there wasn’t a team behind me that wanted to see the success that we continue to have. And ultimately it’s all about the people you surround yourself with. I have such an amazing team that I work with every day. They made this She Rock award happen.”

Pamela Cole & Leigh Maples, Fanny’s House of Music:
“This is a pretty big deal for a small store in Nashville. Our mission was and is to have a comfortable music store, which we had not experienced in our careers, that also was comfortable for women and young girls. We talked about how important music was in our lives growing up and we had very supportive families. But this business of MI does seem to be one of the last boys clubs. So we opened our store, we put women on the walls, with an instrument, and we put art and vintage clothing. What we found out is that men are also searching for a comfortable music store, so it’s worked out really well. I see a lot of passion and hope for the future. We’ve seen a lot of things in our 35 years. Kids don’t think twice about whether a girl can play a guitar or not, because their teacher is probably one. Plus there are young girls all over the country now that are being empowered by the rock camps that are going on and the good work that women are doing everywhere. Please, pay it forward. Hire more women so that women can see other women and be empowered and inspired.”

Mona Tavakoli & Becky Gebhardt, Rock and Roll Camp for Girls LA:
“It’s so amazing to be in a very intentional space that’s cleared for women to celebrate each other in the music industry. Especially at NAMM. So thank you to NAMM for letting us use this space tonight. That’s what we do at the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls. We create intentional space. We create a safe and a brave space for girls who are normally socialised to be small, quiet and step back. We create an environment for them to step up, be loud and take up space.”

Cathy Carter Duncan, Seymour Duncan:
“I’m so inspired. This is really a gift for me tonight, because you are doing exactly what we like to do, which is building communities. It starts with a fabulous team, and I’ve really been blessed over the years, including MJ, who is the queen of pickups…I’d like to pause for just a moment and say, Laura, we do this really nice thing and you do it particularly well, which is to acknowledge and celebrate women. And so I want to acknowledge and celebrate you. Because what she’s doing is really giving us a chance to celebrate the enormous diversity of women. Look at all the different kinds of women there are. In the old days we thought we came in one size and shape. The cute ones. The quiet ones. But that’s not what’s happening now. It’s that diversity. It’s that vision. It’s that enthusiasm. It’s that energy. It’s that passion. So thank you, thank you. I am blessed.”

Amy Heidemann, Karmin:
“I think that the future of successful women in music is in not just the feminist part, but the balance of the two, because it’s important for women to be strong in their music. I can’t wait to see this exciting new crop of women that’s coming up. I can’t wait to see who is standing here next year in this spot.”

Chalise Zolezzi, Taylor Guitars:
“I have a 15-year-old girl, and I’m always quoting the line from Mean Girls: "I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom." I am bona fide tonight! Thank you to the Women’s International Music Network for being here at NAMM where this is much needed to come together. Thank you to Taylor Guitars, my employer, for being a place for a long time for women to be, to learn, to grow. I come from a long line of women who have been told no. No you can’t be a racecar driver. No you can’t be president of a union. No you can’t have a job outside the home. And thinking about that day and age, listening to their stories and how they overcame those things and achieved their goals, has always left me with thinking, it’s not who’s going to let us. It’s who’s going to stop us! And we as women in this industry really need to stick together. This is just so cool. Thank you!”

Chaka Khan:
“My heart is rejoicing at seeing all of these powerful, beautiful women up here on this stage tonight. Recipients of awards, players, singers. It’s almost like some kind of cuckoo universe I’m looking at, you know, from where I started! It’s great. I’m so happy to be a part of the program. I want to say how thankful I am for this award.”

To see photos of the 2016 She Rocks Awards and more, go to

Tags: NAMM , laura b whitmore , NAMM 2016 , she rocks , she rocks awards 2016

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