This weekend I went to the Girls Rock! Rhode Island summer camp showcase at Fete Lounge in Providence, RI, and let me tell you, these 40 young girls between the ages of 11 and 18 rocked the house!
The mission of Girls Rock! RI, according to their website, is to help girls and women empower themselves through the development of musical skills in order to foster self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. Through this work they hope to build an environment conducive to the active participation and respect of women as creative producers of our culture. Girls Rock! RI envisions a future where women and girls are prolific, independent creators of all aspects of modern culture.
At this year’s GRRI Girls Rock Camp, the girls formed eight bands, and in just one week’s time, named their band, chose what instrument they’d learn to play, or became vocalists, wrote a song, practiced, came up with a band logo, and hand silk-screened their own t-shirts,which they wore to the weekend Showcase performance for a crowd of well over 100 family members and friends.
The energy of the girls right from the start,as each band came out, was electric. And, right from the start, I was of course impressed with the diversity of the girls. I have to admit I subconsciously expected this would be a bunch of white girls, remembering when I was in high school, a million years ago, that most white girls I knew—aside from me, who was into singers and groups like, Parliament, Stevie Wonder and the Commodores—were into rock and roll. But, I have to say Girls Rock! RI, rocked with diversity.
Black girls strummed guitars and showed off their skills on the drums. White girls funked out on bass guitar, and Latina girls rocked the mic as vocalists. It was great to think about how the girls had to work together to form their band identity, write lyrics to a song that had some common ground for all of them, and to get along well enough to practice their songs together for the end of week performance.
What also struck me, and the many people in the audience—I know, because I’m a good eavesdropper, and heard others talking about it, was the honesty and depth of the lyrics; and the theme of self-empowerment woven through each song. The girls sang about, and I’ll be paraphrasing lyrics here, being awkward; ‘besties’ that turned out to be back stabbers; living up, or not living up to the standards of “plastic Barbies;” punching someone in the face if he doesn’t listen when you tell him not to touch you; saying, I don’t need a man, it’s your fault you left too early; and, finding your own voice. In Girls’ Rock style, they shouted their powerful girl voices out loud for all to hear.
The song lyrics all sounded like good mantras for me, this much older woman to remember, and I thank these young girls for reminding me just how powerful we can be, if we tell ourselves so. I am certain that the leaders and volunteers of Girls Rock provided strong mentoring this past week to allow all of the girls to feel safe to find and reveal their unique voices. The emcee of the showcase, a volunteer at GRRI, was one example, and shone in her role as spunky, girl rocker, cheerleader, and mentor all in one, as she called out each band and declared each one, “Awesome!” And they were, and, it was clear how much the girl campers adored her, and the other volunteers and mentors.
I believe the camp also inspired the girls to show their confidence through their sense of style. Between black girls sporting feather earrings and faux-hawks, to a white girl of the band the Spunk Bat Girls, sporting bat glasses and bat wings, these girls showed us what it meant to come together and rock out loud.
Thanks girls, and thanks Girls Rock RI for the awesome job you are doing with showing our young girls how to feel empowered through music. To learn more about Girls Rock RI, and to support the organization, you can visit www.girlsrockri.org