This weekend the Experience Music Project will celebrate the history of women in popular music with “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power.” The exhibit, which opens with a kick-off concert on Friday, June 14, traces the role of women in rock ’n’ roll (broadly defined), from the lowly juke joints in the mid-20th century to the continent-hopping arena tours of the early 21st. We thought this was a good moment to further narrow that focus and highlight the women currently rocking Seattle’s music scene. Just how big a struggle it was to narrow it down is a testament to that scene. Here are 10 of our favorites, followed by another 40 worthy of note. Women in Seattle do it all — and as you’ll see, some do it all at once. This is a mere fraction of the smart, talented individuals — who just happen to be female — working to keep us on the musical map. Cheers, ladies. We salute you.
All photos courtesy of the subject.
booking and marketing assistant at the Crocodile; member of Nightmare Fortress
How long have you lived in Seattle? I was born and raised in the Seattle area and went to college in Bellingham.
Music-business bio: I began as a volunteer at the Vera Project, Hollow Earth Radio, and Neumos, which led to a part-time job at Neumos that turned into the full-time marketing manager position, which I did for three years. I’ve worked on the Capitol Hill Block Party and on many other events and shows all over town. I’ve been at the Crocodile now for a year and a half, and assist in booking in addition to marketing. I also play in bands, so I do much of the bookings, advancing, and marketing for my own musical projects.
What’s the most sexist thing someone in the music business has said to you? Women in business are expected to look nice, smile, and be friendly in addition to doing an excellent job at work. Men in the same position are never told to “Be nice and smile more!” They are just expected to work hard and take care of business.
artist manager for the Maldives and Jason Dodson
How long in Seattle? Since I was 4!
Music-business bio: I got my start volunteering for KEXP as a DJ assistant to Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole. I was cajoled into becoming a band manager (Maldives, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Hazlewood Motel), and have not slept since. I’ve spent countless hours counseling frazzled musicians, putting out fires for bookers, and getting, and giving, sweaty hugs.
Most sexist thing? “Hello Sir!” (via e-mail)
Robynne A. Hawthorne
director of events at the Underwood Stables Members Only Social Club
How long in Seattle? I came to Seattle when I was 16 years old, so that makes it 24 years.
Music-business bio: From 1998 to 2001, I ran a cafe/cabaret/bar in the U District called the Pearl. Today I run a private music venue in Fremont of a similar ilk. Without the usual annoying public presence, we have the opportunity to keep an old-Seattle small-town feel alive.
Most sexist thing? I haven’t had to succumb to particular gender roles in my experience. In part, I think it’s because I have always created the environment that I work in, and that has led to a more positive surrounding with similar-minded cohorts. The venue I have now is in a way a Ladies and Gentlemen’s club. I think in that, sexism is being replaced with an almost lost, courtly nature. I encourage that.
host and producer of Audioasis on KEXP
How long in Seattle? I’m from West Seattle! 34 years . . . 35 in July!
Music-business bio: I began at Green River Community College in 2001 hosting the show Local Motion on KGRG for four years. After Green River, I was offered a job at Jones Radio Networks. I worked on classic-country and top-40 shows as a production assistant. While at Jones Radio, John Richards offered me an internship at KEXP. Currently I’m host and producer of Audioasis.
Most sexist thing? “Did you book them because you think they’re cute?”
general manager of Hardly Art; president of End of Time Records
How long in Seattle? Eight years.
Music-business bio: I started with a radio show on KRLX and eventually became a member of the board, in addition to working sound and then handling all booking at the local college venue in Northfield, Minn. I also briefly wrote news stories for Tiny Mix Tapes and music/zine reviews for Punk Planet (R.I.P.). I interned in the publicity department at Sub Pop, which happily morphed into a part-time, then full-time, job. When Sub Pop started Hardly Art in 2007, I helped to set up and run the new label.
Most sexist thing? On one of my first trips to New York, for CMJ, I was asked, “Oh, is your boyfriend’s band playing?” Once I explained that that wasn’t the case, the guy gave me his demo. A year or two later—also in N.Y.—I was told by a promoter on a coke binge that prior to meeting me he thought I was going to be a 40 year-old lesbian, based on my e-mail tone. I took that one as a compliment.
vice president of business and artist development at Sportn’ Life Records; co-founder of Café Society; admin extraordinaire at KEXP
How long in Seattle? I was raised in Silverdale, Wash., and have lived in Seattle since 1992.
Music-business bio: In the mid-’90s, I began work in concert promotion locally with smaller national acts. In ’02 I began working for Sportn’ Life Records, and learned how indie record labels function. I stay busy working on things like the EMP SoundOff! Competition, SxSeattle, and as an advisory-board member of the Recording Academy’s Pacific Northwest chapter.
Most sexist thing? “Hey, Shorty, come here, let me holla at you” or “Hey, Shorty, go get me a drink.” If I had a nickel for every time I have been mistaken for a groupie and inappropriately hit on, told to go get something, or left out of a conversation because those around me assumed I couldn’t be the one in charge, I would be a multimillionaire. The confusion in their faces once they figured out I am the exact opposite is priceless.
senior policy adviser for Mayor Mike McGinn
How long in Seattle? Originally a Jersey girl, I moved to Seattle in 2000 from New York City.
Music-business bio: My first paid music-related job was at the Middle East club in Cambridge, Mass. I would do the door, floor-manage—whatever needed to be done. After college I moved to N.Y.C. and worked as a booking agent for a company that represented U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Halen, but also great female artists like the Pretenders and Sinead O’Connor. I booked Patti Smith’s first show after her long hiatus, and the last Ramones show. I moved to Seattle in 2000 to book talent for Summer Nights at the Pier and Bumbershoot, and wound up producing the events as both the executive director and artistic director. I love my current role with the city—it gives me the opportunity to serve all the communities I care about, including music, arts, and nightlife, and to work for a mayor who shares my feminist and cultural values.
Most sexist thing? There are so many to choose from, but I will keep it clean and go with “You got that promotion because you are a woman.”
writer; co-founder of Sound on the Sound; artist manager
How long in Seattle? I was born and raised in Seattle.
Music-business bio: I never dreamed of or planned on making my love of music into my day job. But here I am, answering this question from a sweaty backstage in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2006, my fiancé and I started a music website that we named Sound on the Sound, where we write about, photograph, and film the local music we love. From there I’ve dabbled in PR (both for venues and bands), booking, and freelance music-writing for other publications. In 2012, I went on my first tour and got hooked. I’ve spent much of the last year on the road doing tour management and merch for bands from the Pacific Northwest.
Most sexist thing? I think it’s a shame this question has to be asked to drive home the point that women “have it harder in the music industry.” While I have had to work hard to hone my craft and increase my skills to find success and satisfaction in my work, I believe everyone who has tried to make a living in the music industry has. That said, I know I am asked questions that my male counterparts are not. When I tour, I am often asked who I am married to (or sleeping with) in the band. Sometimes when I answer “Nobody. This is my job,” I get raised eyebrows and looks of disbelief. Sometimes those looks are coming from people who work in the music industry. Sometimes it’s a drunk fan. Often it’s another woman.
On my most recent tour, I’ve been so pleased that not a single person has asked me this or seemed surprised that I haul gear, drive a giant van, negotiate hospitality, and settle shows in a dress.
video producer; operations manager for the Blue Scholars; musician, choreographer, dancer, actress, music writer
Music-business bio: There’s a word count at this paper. See above.
Most sexist thing? Besides the typical sketchy, nuanced, condescending communication that would take an essay to unpack? “Hi, I’m looking for the green room.”/“Whose girlfriend are you?”
publicity, international and video promotions at Sub Pop
How long in Seattle? Since August 2004.
Music-business bio: It wasn’t until I became the music director of my college radio station that I realized that I could make a living combining two of my favorite things: talking on the phone and talking about music. Post-college, I moved to Seattle and interned in the radio department at Sub Pop, which quickly became a part-time job. I was also the office manager of Chop Suey, as well the assistant to the Northwest rep for the Alternative Distribution Alliance. From there I spent four and a half years as the label manager of Suicide Squeeze Records, until returning to Sub Pop in 2010.
Most sexist thing? While I know people tend to think of the music business as a boys’ club, I have never really felt put down for being a woman in this industry. Sub Pop’s staff is split almost evenly between genders, and having Megan Jasper as our fearless leader/vice president really sets the bar high for equality and crassness for all.
Star Anna, musician Known for the rawness of her voice and emotive lyrics, the Ellensburg-bred front woman has released four records in the past five years.
Leah Baltus, editor in chief, City Arts Baltus shines light on Seattle’s emerging talent and evolving trends as well as overseeing the popular City Arts Festival.
Cristina Bautista, musician A bass player/front woman known as a punky purveyor of perky power pop.
Sara Bennett, production coordinator The go-to production coordinator for both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, Bennett’s career began as a programming assistant at One Reel, and has also seen her on the road with Jay-Z, the Black Keys, and Britney.
Katie Brogan, talent buyer Brogan serves as the gatekeeper of premier rooms like the Showbox and other AEG venues.
Gloria Connors, owner, Connors and Company Events Connors has taken her career from tour manager to head of a production empire overseeing events of every scope and scale.
Mel Darby, talent buyer, the Crocodile It’s Darby’s nose for talent that’s kept the Croc’s programming fresh and teeming with old-school credibility.
Brangien Davis, arts & culture editor, Seattle Magazine Davis oversees all things entertainment for the locally loved monthly glossy.
Tricia Davis , tour manager, stylist, and video director for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis The woman responsible for bringing “Thrift Shop” style to the masses, Davis also coordinates Camp Macklemore’s massive tour schedule.
Litsa Dremousis, freelance writer Dremousis covers music on a national level for MSN, New York Magazine, Esquire, The Believer, Paste, Spinner, and NPR.
Shelby Earl, musician One of the more heralded Seattle singer/songwriters in recent memory, Earl’s solo work and collaborations garner her national attention.
Rachel Flotard, musician, label owner, publisher Known for her work with Visqueen, Flotard now runs Local 638 Records and makes forays into publishing music literature.
Adriene Green, aka Adra Boo, musician The formidable front woman of Fly Moon Royalty.
Christen Greene, general manager and head of A&R, Onto Entertainment Greene is largely responsible for the success of many local and national artists, including the Lumineers and Hey Marseilles.
Gretta Harley, musician, playwright, resident musical director, composer, Cornish College of the Arts Her musical-theater collaboration These Streets explored some of Seattle’s unsung musicians while employing some of its best young talent.
Ali Hedrick, agent, Billions Corp. Hedrick books some of the nation’s most notable acts, particularly in the Americana arena, from right here in the Emerald City.
Faustine Hudson, musician Her drum kit’s provided the beat for a range of local artists from the Young Evils to the Maldives.
Island Jen, photographer Her stellar portfolio includes lots of live music shots and celebrity portraits aplenty.
Megan Jasper, vice president, Sub Pop Records Jasper began her career as a receptionist (who famously pranked The New York Times ), and now reigns as VP of Seattle’s most legendary label.
Katie Kate, musician This local beat mistress and avant hip-hop performer is fast becoming the face of the new Seattle music scene.
Mary Lambert, musician Macklemore’s “Same Love” wouldn’t be the same at all without the elevated emotional depth of Lambert’s vocals.
Lori LeFavor, concert promoter In a time when it’s nearly impossible to be an indie promoter, LeFavor’s Infinite Productions just celebrated its 25th year.
Hannah Levin, DJ, promoter, writer Whether she’s serving as a metal maven on KEXP, programming musical events for SIFF, or writing about the music scene, Levin’s influence is hard to ignore.
Vicci Martinez, musician The Tacoma native is nationally known from her appearance on The Voice.
Renee McMahon, photographer McMahon braves the pits and bests the boys for some seriously spectacular live work.
NightTraiN, band, featuring Rachael F., Taryn Ren’e Dorsey, Selena Whitaker, and Nicole Peoples Born in musical theater, NightTraiN is regarded as one of the city’s very best party bands.
Emily Nokes, musician, TacocaT; music editor, The Stranger Tastemaker by day, music-maker by night, Nokes knows Seattle music.
Kelly O, photographer and writer, The Stranger She’s blonder, tougher, and cooler than you.
Kim Roy, conductor, Seattle Rock Orchestra In addition to her work orchestrating rock for the masses, Roy is the music director of the Snohomish County Music Project in Everett, the Westside Symphony in West Seattle, and an accomplished violinist.
Megan Seling, writer, The Stranger At an age when most of us are just developing our musical taste, Seling was already writing about music professionally—earning her a reputation as a Northwest punk-rock authority.
Susan Silver, artist manager, club owner Were it not for the Godmother of Grunge, the Crocodile Cafe would now be a Panera Bread.
Michelle Smith, booking agent, The Comet; DJ, independent promoter Aka Mama Casserole, as she is affectionately known for running the most historic punk-rock stage in Seattle.
Lacey Swain, musician; licensing, Sub Pop Records; co-owner, Gold Van Records She makes it, she sells it, she licenses it. Lacey Swain is music.
THEESatisfaction, music group, featuring Stasia “Stas” Iron and Catherine “Cat” Harris-White The duo’s Sub Pop debut marked a turning point in Northwest hip-hop.
Three Imaginary Girls, music blog featuring many a female music writer This female-founded music blog is known for its indie-rock prowess.
Victoria Van Bruinisse, photographer, writer Known as the “Fourth Imaginary Girl” and for her work as a live photographer and festival documentarian.
Cheryl Waters, DJ, KEXP The Midday Show host is noted as one of the most trusted sources in Seattle music.
Sonya Westcott, musician Formerly of Arthur & Yu, Westcott now uses her ethereal voice in the duo We Are Loud Whispers.
Rachel Willner, production manager Formally of Neumos, Willner’s mad production skills are now available to all of Seattle via Connors and Company.
Lesli Wood, musician Wood’s career was born in busking. She currently fronts The Redwood Plan.
CONCERT INFO: “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” opens Sat., June 15. On Fri., June 14, the museum will host Blow Out, an opening concert featuring the all-star band of Kathy Valentine, Patty Schemel, Donita Sparks, Kim Shattuck, and Annabella Lwin, plus guests Star Anna, Shelby Earl, and Choklate. EMP, Seattle Center, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 770-2700, empmuseum.org. 7 p.m. $25 ($20 for EMP members).