Women in Music Panel Features Cris Williamson, April 8

By 
Margot Edwards
March 17, 2009
Cris Williamson
Photo by Irene Young

Folk and indie music icon Cris Williamson comes to Berklee for a three-day residency where she will conduct workshops, visit classes, and give a special performance for students at Cafe 939. The visit also includes a free public screening of excerpts of Radical Harmonies, a documentary chronicling the women's music movement from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, followed by a Women in Music panel discussion and Q&A session with Williamson. 

The Women in Music panel with excerpts from Radical Harmonies takes place Wednesday, April 8, 2:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. at the Loft, located at 939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA. The event is open to the public and free of charge. For more information, visit berklee.edu/events or call 617 747-8820.

The panel discussion—moderated by Beth Denisch, associate professor of composition and including Williamson; Didi Stewart, associate professor of voice; and Rhiannon, voice instructor—will center on the emergence of women's music in the 1960s and 1970s. Denisch hopes the discussion will "allow the panelists to share their amazing experiences and the impact of their lives on society, how the many diverse cultures they've encountered have impacted their music, and how they see society and the music industry changing for women in the last 30 years."

Cris Williamson is a folk music icon and indie label pioneer. In the early 1970s, Williamson formed the first record label dedicated to releasing female artists. Olivia Records released many important albums of the women's music movement, including Williamson's classic album The Changer and the Changed, which ultimately became one of the best-selling independent releases of all time. At a time when women faced an uphill battle in the music industry, Williamson helped set the stage for women—and lesbians in particular—to write, produce, record, and release their own material on their own terms.

Williamson, who has released over 20 albums, continues to tour and perform all over the world. One of the most sought-after artists on the acoustic circuit, she has sold out Carnegie Hall three times and headlined the Newport Folk Festival. Williamson released her latest CD, Fringe, on her own Wolf Moon Records. A merit-based Berkleemusic Celebrity Online Scholarship is being established in Williamson's name and will be awarded annually.

Radical Harmonies is a groundbreaking documentary by Dee Mosbacher (Woman Vision Productions) detailing the women's music movement that gave birth to an alternative industry, changing women and music forever. Through performance footage, interviews, and archival material, the film delves into the rich history of women creating a cultural life based in a commitment to diversity, personal integrity, and feminism, and highlights the infrastructure that made possible the recording, production, and dissemination of their work. Interviews with the movement's founders include Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Mary Watkins, June Millington, and Holly Near.