While the late 1990's may have been the era of the boy band, the late aughts have given rise to powerful female artists. To celebrate these women in music and support the next generation of female talent, the non-profit Music Unites is launching its second major initiative, Empowering Women Through Music, after successfully funding its first philanthropic focus the Music Unites Youth Choir. The goal of the initiative is to empower, inspire, and help young women learn through educational and musical showcases, workshops, and panels. Music Unites joined Rolling Stone and Garnier Fructis to kick off the program with a special benefit concert featuring Diane Birch, Mia Morretti and Caitlin Moe on Oct.4 at The Standard NYC's Le Bain.
Music Unites founder and executive director Michelle Edgar felt this was a major issue that needed to be addressed.
Everyone talks about women in music but what does it actually mean? It's more than just awarding female artists and recognizing music executive role models. It's about creating proper infrastructure in school's music education programs and inspiring the next generation of artists and industry leaders. Music Unites wants to guide the next generation of global leaders by giving them the tools and resources needed to come into a successful adulthood. We want to give girls the opportunity to not only want to be a pop star but to explore the different careers in the music business and learn from top role models. Through showcases, panels, and workshops -- young women will be able to unite and come together through an inspiring initiative.
Allison Hagendorf is an industry figurehead who has worked with unsigned, emerging and established artists. Sh has been behind-the-scenes doing A&R for major record labels and in front of the camera, interviewing them on television during the "Top 20 Countdown" Fridays at 5PM on Fuse, will be functioning as MC for the event.
I've been fortunate to hear countless stories of how music shapes and defines people's lives. Empowering Women Through Music will provide young women with the opportunity to create more of these inspiring stories. I feel honored and privileged to be part of this important program's launch. Mia, Caitlin, and Diane are not only extremely talented, but each of these musicians has a relentless work ethic and a unique creative vision. It's that type of innovation and dedication that is so inspiring to others.
Diane Birch is a fast emerging singer songwriter whose debut album Bible Belt is winning critical acclaim and a spot of my iPod. She's played to people around the world, performing for crowds who mouth the words to songs like "Valentino," and "Rise Up," along with her. As the daughter of a globetrotting preacher, she was exposed to church hymns and classical as a child and has based much of her current sound on these early influences.
Diane began playing piano at the age of seven after her parents enrolled her in lessons. Her parents pushed her whenever she moaned during practice and eventually, she realized she loved it. Without that support, things may be different now, which is just one reason she feels music education is important while girls are still young.
I feel music programs are a huge part of inspiring a child and figuring out what their career choices are. There are so many kids that are very musical that don't have outlets for that. I like being involved with Music Unites because it establishes more of these programs and gets kids involved with music," says Diane who will be partaking in outreach programs at local schools. "It's important for me to use my career and act like a role model for kids. I feel like if I had somebody like me when I was younger, that I would have looked up to and been inspired by, it would have meant a great deal to me and helped me avoid a lot of the fumbling around. I didn't have a whole lot of people to look up to in that sense.
DJ Mia Moretti did not have this kind of structure in schools, but found her support through friends and other musicians who taught her and helped along her career. Urged along by the likes of DJ Am and Cut Chemist, she has performed alongside such industry icons as Courtney Love, Snoop Dog, and Katy Perry and played at the country's top nightclubs and events such as Chelsea Clinton's wedding and Chopard's 150th.
Mia met electric violinist Caitlin Moe just over a year ago at NYC's club Ella and from there they have been functioning as a duo, creating new sounds with the combination of contemporary music and classical in front of crowds at Lollapalooza and in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas. They have also edged out a place for themselves amongst the fashion elite, adding the soundtrack to runways shows and events for Alice + Olivia, Richie Rich, DKNY, and Diesel. She says:
What we've been doing it's been such a fun thing for me growing up as a classical musician. I never thought I would be playing with a DJ and playing other music other than the world I was trained in. Violinists in a sense, feel like they're never going to be that instrument that is perceived as cool or daring or edgy," says Cailtin, who has studied violin since the age of four and has toured with such notable acts as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. "For me, I studied violin initially with a private teacher, but once I went to high school, my high school music teacher was the one who introduced me to genres outside of classical music. If I hadn't been aware and messing around with other genres in high school I don't think I would be doing what I do today. I think music education is such an important part-not just in my life but for a lot of people who are hopefully able to have access to music education.
As part of the initiative, Mia will be holding workshops for girls to learn how to DJ. Caitlin will be using her string skills in similar seminars devised to guide young women on all the different career paths a classical artist can choose. Those programs, as well as Diane's outreach, are developed to deal with empowerment topics such as building self-esteem, tools to create successful careers, and networking seminars.
Music Unites designed the Empowering Women through Music initiative in-line with their larger goals of funding music education in underfunded inner-city schools. Programs in schools will be made possible through partnerships with Women In Music, Girls Inc, and Young Women's Leadership Network. Joining them in this goal is Rolling Stone, Garnier, Absolut Vodka, LeSportsac and Tuleste Market.