From the start of our roots music journey, True North Music has featured a significant amount of female talent both in our programming and our booking agency roster. We’ve been working actively on this since at least 2017 and are proud to announce that we’ve now formally signed up to the Keychange Pledge. Across the wider music scene, women remain shamefully under-represented on festival line-ups and throughout the music business, both as performers and in behind-the-scenes roles. There is a huge amount of data and research to back this up, and I recommend checking out the exhaustive Counting the Music Industry report by Vick Bain, if you want to see some hard data on this. The Book More Women project also graphically illustrates (literally, via their brilliant Twitter/Instagram posters) the woeful proportion of female talent booked for most festival line-ups. The Keychange initiative aims to help tackle this, and is working to encourage a 50:50 gender balance in music festival programming by 2022, in addition to their broader goals across the sector. The 50:50 principle includes any artist/band that features at least one female/gender minority musician, by the way, so it’s quite a generous way of measuring, and entirely achievable! True North Music is passionate about increasing gender parity within roots music, and we do our utmost to ensure a good mix of gender representation in our programming and booking roster. As you can see, we are comfortably exceeding the 50:50 goal (and have been doing for several years).
76% of all the live events we have promoted to date, and 81% of our booking agency clients to date, have featured female artists/bands which include female musicians
[figures as at May 2021]
We have found no problem whatsoever in actively pursuing this principle while maintaining the highest artistic quality, and we’re quite sure that our loyal followers would agree! It just takes a little extra conscious thought and effort. Our booking roster includes AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, Mile Twelve, Stillhouse Junkies, Bill and the Belles, Front Country – all feature brilliant, hugely talented women making some of the very best roots music out there. Likewise our concert promotions have included superb gigs by Sierra Hull, Hannah Read, Mishra, Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, Molly Tuttle, Jaywalkers, Rachel Baiman, Pharis & Jason Romero, exceptional artists every one.
This is not to say that we don’t love our male colleagues and artists – we do! We work with several fantastic all-male line-ups including The Slocan Ramblers, Compton & Newberry and Man About A Horse. But as with many genres, bluegrass has historically been dominated by male artists (for many reasons including equality of opportunity in general). We want to make sure that we give female and gender minority musicians a fair share of performance opportunities. As an independent female promoter and booking agent, Maria is particularly passionate about supporting and promoting fair gender representation in roots music. We’re thrilled to have formally signed up to the Keychange Pledge and we’re grateful for the work that is being done in this area by all the signatories and supporters of this growing movement for change.