Popular music grew out of ragtime, vaudeville and the blues to become global mass entertainment. Yet nearly eighty years after Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith first blazed the trail, have their female successors achieved the recognition and affirmation they deserve?
The first hands-on history of women in rock, pop and soul, She Bop tells it like it is - on stage, on camera and working in a male-dominated industry. Adding a feminist perspective to her incredibly detailed knowledge of the stars and their music, and including an abundance of personal interviews, Lucy O'Brien tells these women's stories and their struggle not only for acceptance, but also for recognition and success, in a culture they are still striving to call their own. She Bop traces the different stages of women's progress in the music industry, from the early years of ragtime and the Jazz Age up to the present.
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What do Madonna's navel and Billie Holiday's eyebrows have in common? They symbolize the "self-definition" and "self-awareness" that British music journalist O'Brien (Annie Lennox) saw in female performers trying to make it in the male-dominated popular music industry. Drawing on 200 interviews in the U.S. and Britain between 1984 and 1994, O'Brien has written a top-notch, impressively thorough history of women in the industry, including not only performers but producers and sound engineers?even female consumers. O'Brien's definition of pop is very wide, which allows her to riff widely on rock, soul, jazz, world, reggae, rap, country and folk music. Though tied together through O'Brien's strong, feminist voice, She Bop is loosely organized. It opens chronologically, moving through prewar jazz and blues; the "Dream Babes" of '50s pop; the proliferation of female artists in every genre in the '60s; the '70s "rock chick"; and finally, to the ascendance of the girl guitar bands and singer/songwriters in the late '80s and early '90s. Subsequent chapters consider issues, trends and themes, from what Suzanne Vega termed the "cleavage question" to "protest" pop to androgyny and sexual orientation. O'Brien doesn't gloss over problems: she wrestles with the complexities of using sex for success, the impulse toward self-destructive behavior and the lack of solidarity among female musicians. Overall, though, the message of She Bop is straightforward and positive: You've come a long way, baby. Photos, bibliography, discography.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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