“Let the girls play.” This is the war-cry of The Song Suffragettes, the only all-female country music singer-songwriter showcases in Nashville, Tennessee. This group is made up of over 200 female artists in town and was started in 2014 to combat the underrepresentation of women in Country Music Radio. The Song Suffragettes gives female singer/songwriters a voice, a platform to share their music, and opportunities to collaborate.
On Monday, February 21st, I sat at a high-top table in The Listening Room ready to experience a Song Suffragettes show for the very first time. On stage, five chairs sat in a straight line with five acoustic guitars sitting in front of them. Behind the chairs was a bright white sign that read “Song Suffragettes” in fluorescent light bulbs. A few minutes after six o clock, the five performers walked out onto the stage and took their respective seats. They went down the line to introduce themselves before sharing their songs.
The first performer named Bri started the show off with a song called “Pessimist.” Bri’s clear vibrato and incredible range put so much power behind the hook, and her raw musical talent was evident. She shared the story of the song with the audience, explaining her own experiences with being pessimistic, especially as it related to being a woman. She talked about how our society sees a pessimistic man as realistic, but a pessimistic woman is a drag or a downer.
Next, a woman named Nell sang a song called “If I were me.” She detailed the experience of not feeling like yourself after a breakup, and how hard it can be to find yourself again without your partner. Women are often fed the idea that we are nothing without a man, or we need a man, and it's hard to escape this narrative, especially after a breakup. Nell perfectly depicted this struggle in her song.
A third highlight of the show was the song “Panic Attack” performed by a woman named Caroline. She revealed to the audience that she has struggled with panic attacks her whole life and was beautifully transparent about how that has affected her. She talked about how writing this song helped her process a lot of that trauma and that she tried to describe the feeling of a panic attack in the song. You could hear her emotion in the rawness of her voice as she sang about how her panic attacks came out of nowhere and made her live in fear. Her openness about mental health struck me, as it's highly stigmatized in some parts of the United States.
As a singer-songwriter, I paid the most attention to the vocal tones of the performers and their lyrics. More so than the expressions of the singers, I was honed in on aspects like their riffs and vibrato, as well as rhymes or lines I thought were good. For example, in Nell’s performance of “If I were me”, I noted that her hook “I ain't been me since you” was clear and effective at summing up the message of her song. I appreciated how clean this hook was. In her song “False Starts”, Nell called a relationship “lightning in a bottle of wine,” and this line also stood out to me because I thought it was a cool image and a fresh way to describe the dynamic of a relationship.
The real, honest message of the Song Suffragettes was incredibly compelling and impressive. They covered material from mental health to boy problems, and their relatable lyrics and catchy melodies made the show go by so quickly. If you are interested in seeing these women perform and share their stories, check out https://www.songsuffragettes.com/ for their schedule! If you are a female singer/songwriter looking for a platform, fill out the form on their website to be considered for membership!