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Learn Why "She Is The Music" & ASCAP's Female Songwriting Camp Felt "Essential"
Songwriting camps have certainly proven their worth recently and from Oct. 17–19, ASCAP and joined forces with "She Is The Music" a new mentoring initiative founded Alicia Keys, to fulfill the promise Keys made last summer toward promoting women-led creativity.
The camp partnered with powerhouses such as engineer Ann Mincieli, and with Mary J. Blige who headlined and participated in the all-female songwriting camp. United in the name of advancement, the program has potential to lead a cultural shift more respectful and nurturing toward women's musical and creative gifts, as well as career success.
"I've joined forces with a group of really powerful female executives, songwriters, artists, engineers, producers and publishers to help reshape the industry that we all love by creating real opportunities and a pipeline of talent for other women," Keys said speech accepting her Icon Award from the National Music Publishers Association last June. "We're calling our initiative 'She Is the Music.'" By mid-month, creative get-togethers to make progress had commenced and the ASCAP songwriting camp is an extension of that summer spirit.
"For the most part, I tend to gravitate towards female writers because there's no substitute for people completely understanding your experience and your perspective," said country singer-songwriter Jillian Jacqueline. "If we all get together in a room and break all the walls and the myths and concepts down to talk about what it is to be where we are and describe what we're going through, bonds happen. Connection happens. Those are the things people can't take away from you — the human connection. That's why this is so essential."
"Songwriting is an art. You have to be transparent in order to get people to look at your art," said Blige, reinforcing the spirit of openness that made the camp such an exciting creative environment. "It's very hard for women to come together because it's such a male-dominated world, male-dominated industry. It makes it hard on us so we're hard on each other … When you see us actually have the confidence and the courage to come together to do something great like this, it's a blessing."
"There is a culture and there is a system in place that says if you're a woman, you're either a girlfriend, a wife… you're an artist, or you're here for my pleasure," added songwriter Priscilla Renea. "I think that's the most encouraging thing about this, women are going to walk away feeling confident."
Organizers were delighted with the sense of accomplishment that emerged from this October camp and look forward to holding more and inspiring others to follow their lead. Thanks to the vision of "She Is The Music," it's likely just a matter of time before songs everybody sings emerge thanks to this women-in-leadership model.