By Megan M. Seckman
|Heather Fox (left) and Yolanda JD Green (right) are empowering young girls through music. |
Photos by Melissa Donald.
You may think these seemingly docile librarians by trade, bookish and verbose, holding more degrees than tattoos, can’t harness the power to rock. But you, my friend, are wrong. They are confident, feminine, and well-read; they have conviction, grit, and experience; and they want to help unleash the inner rock goddess inside your daughters.
Yalonda JD Green (who goes by Yolanda, JD, or Yolanda JD) holds a master’s in communication and a doctorate in humanities, but she also moonlights as a solo vocal artist and “inspirimentationalist.” She performs in a jazz/funk fusion band, a Steely Dan tribute band called Steely Danish, and an Afrobeat group known as the Afrophysicists (that has played The Americanafest in Nashville as well as the local Worldfest on the Belvedere). This children’s librarian was classically trained in Detroit and grew up singing chorus concerts at the Ford Motor Company in her “choir army,” so she won’t be recommending another dainty, pink princess book to any young feminists who might spot her at an outreach program or be driving the local bookmobile. No, her storybook time is filled with strong characters that want to find their voice as she did through music, stand-up comedy, and community outreach.
|Yolanda JD Green began building her background in music while living in Detroit and now plays in two bands.|
Heather Fox may dwell in dusty archives by day, but she is also a seasoned rocker. One of the founding members of the 23-year-old local female band, Juanita, Heather plays rhythm guitar and has been part of the Louisville music scene long enough to carry the street cred of being badass.
|Heather’s guitar strap was made by a friend who makes leather items from recycled leather.|
Both women are working to build Girls Rock Louisville, which is part of the International Girls Rock Alliance and has the mission to “empower girls to believe in themselves by providing a supporting community that fosters self-expression, confidence, and collaboration through music education and performance.” The now week-long camp provides girls and non-gender conforming youths (ages 10-17) a safe place to form a band, write songs, learn to play various instruments, and establish stage presence and self-confidence at the camp’s culminating performance. “There is a very male-centric music scene out there, and this empowers girls to break through, to express themselves, and to establish a strong identity and build character,” Heather says. “It can be emotional because they’re just girls discussing and singing about some very heavy topics, but it is amazing to watch them create something out of nothing. The camp teaches this delicate balance between vulnerability and confidence — really, how to be a woman.”
|JD proudly carries her tote bag which has the Girls Rock logo on it.|
“Yeah, it’s the best stuff in the entire world,” JD adds. “I get chills just talking about it. There are workshops about gender identity, social justice, and having a sense of agency, as well as the experience to put your hands on an instrument for the first time. All in this passionate, compassionate, collaborative, positive, and supportive environment. One of the camp bands last year called themselves ‘The Clawmarks,’ and the line in their song was, ‘What makes you wanna get your claws out?!’ There’s nothing like it.”
Girls Rock Louisville will be accepting applications until June 18 for the July camp. But until then, check out what these girls that rock are reading, watching, and listening to.
- Tenth of December by George Saunders. This collection of short stories was one of the NY Times’ top 10 best books of 2013.
- Scott and Bailey (BBC). Written by Sally Wainwright, this show is about two female cops, one middle-aged and motherly, the other emotionally immature. But they are both total badasses!
- Happy Valley (BBC). Another one written by Sally Wainwright, but this is a crime drama also featuring a female protagonist.
- Parks and Recreation
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX). A police sitcom set in NYC’s 99th precinct, this drama stars Andy Samberg of SNL fame.
- The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist. Told through slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and escaped slave interviews, this audio book examines the impact slavery had on the Industrial Revolution and American capitalism.
- Josephine Foster’s I’m a Dreamer album. She is a trained opera singer who lives in Spain with a sort of freak-folk style.
- Captain Beefheart. I’ve been listening to a lot of his songs lately.
- Hailu Mergia. He’s an Ethiopian keyboard and an accordion player that I love right now.
Yalonda JD Green:
Reading: JD sticks with science fiction and children’s books.
- Panther in the Hive by Olivia Cole. This was written by a Louisvillian and is a social commentary on class that involves zombies.
- Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. This young adult novel is akin to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A wacked-out, mystical library where sixth graders are trapped and must escape.
- Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat. This story of a long car ride delves into the theme of time. As you read the book, the pages turn and eventually begin reading backward as the character travels through time.
- The Hamilton soundtrack. I am listening to this at home because my husband plays it nonstop. I actually am catching myself singing along now. Maybe someday we’ll actually get to go and see it!
- The Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I am performing this musical with the Motherlodge [local artist collective exchange], so I’m listening to it all the time now.
- KING’s album We are KING. This trio of young women out of Minneapolis uses a lot of spacey chords. The sound is vocally driven/futuristic-funk but really laid back.
- Downton Abbey. At first, I was skeptical about all the hype. It seemed like a real sleeper, but once I watched two or three episodes, I fell in love with this show.
- SNL. I watch it live on Saturday night. If I’m out at a show or an event, I want to get home to watch my SNL.
- The Twilight Zone. This is just the all-time best show — so weird and wonderful.