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Celebrating Local Women In Music – National Album Day 2021

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

If you haven’t already heard, National Album Day returns on the 16th of October 2021 with the theme of ‘Celebrating Women In Music’. In our last blog post, we shone a light on a selection of female musicians who we feel have impacted the music industry throughout the decades. In this week’s edition, we wanted to bring this theme home by celebrating local female musicians and getting their opinions on what it is to be a woman in the music industry today.

Belinda O’Hooley from O’Hooley and Tidow

Belinda O’Hooley is half of four-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Best Duo nominees O’Hooley & Tidow alongside her wife Heidi Tidow; together described by The Guardian as ‘exceptional songwriters’. Their song ‘Gentleman Jack’ features as the closing theme song for Sally Wainwright’s latest BBC/HBO drama series Gentleman Jack. Belinda is also known for her inventive, minimalist, sometimes flamboyant accompanying of folk luminaries including Rufus Wainwright, Nic Jones, Jackie Oates and the Mercury nominated; Rachel Unthank and The Winterset. (Image by Dorset Bays Photography)

Social Media:

Throughout your musical career so far, have you noticed any double standards when it comes to gender in the music industry?

Unfortunately, yes. We’ve heard of festival bookers putting on one ‘token’ woman act, but the line up mainly featuring male bands. Also, we’ve lost count of how many male sound engineers talk to us as though we are completely stupid when it comes to setting up our musical equipment, despite us often providing and engineering our own sound. We continue to be disappointed by the lack of female headline artists in festival line ups of any musical genre.

How do you feel about the way female musicians are portrayed or represented in the industry?

Within the Folk music genre, there has definitely been a portrayal in traditional song content that females are helpless, pretty things that are either murdered or rescued by a man. There can be an expectation that female performers are themselves helpless and in need of rescuing by men, via some audience members being inappropriate, to some managers, and male performers using this music scene as an opportunity to exploit women.

In your experience, how accommodating has Kirklees been in supporting your musical career?

We’ve always felt supported here in Huddersfield with our music, from playing Bar 120 in the early days, to the Laurence Batley Theatre, the Moon Raking Festival in Slaithwaite, and then putting our own gigs on at Marsden Mechanics, Dark Woods, The Cow Shed and Slaithwaite Civic Hall. People seem to have clutched us to their bosoms which we feel very grateful for.

Who is your favourite female musician/act and why?

Michele Stodart from The Magic Numbers. She is an incredibly talented woman, who plays bass guitar with such sensitivity and lyricism, and whose own songs are beautifully plaintive and heartfelt.


DEC 17: MARSDEN, St Bartholomew’s Church

Anna Alexandra Brazil from Birds and Beasts

Anna is one half of the animal inspired duo Birds and Beasts. She is a singer, bass player, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Find her band here:

(Birds & Beasts still have tickets to their upcoming album launch at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on the 23rd October 2021 – click this link for tickets!

Throughout your musical career so far, have you noticed any double standards when it comes to gender in the music industry?

Women in music are still represented as exotic animals. As a female artist, your gender often comes front and centre when you are described - female bass player or female drummer. A band's genre is described as ‘female fronted’, but this is not a genre! Male musicians are not described this way. We need more women to lead the creative arts so that we get the recognition we deserve.

How do you feel about the way female musicians are portrayed or represented in the industry?

The press is hostile to female musicians. Adele's body has been a point of discussion throughout her career, more so than her music at points. This must have been so exhausting and frustrating! Women face a lot of scrutiny over their body image, and that is something that needs to change! For me, this is very difficult. I am not in my twenties anymore and seeing the press be even less kind to aging women (compared to men) has really affected my self-confidence and made me more self-conscious as a performer. As someone who is still at the beginning of her career, I find it daunting, and I do feel marginalised.

There are certain roles in the music industry that tend to be viewed as more ‘masculine’, especially the techical engineering stuff. Only 2% of record producers are currently female! We need more Sylvia Masseys. One of my bass playing heroes is Carol Kaye who was even more of a rarity in the 60s when she was a session bassist.

What advice would you give to any aspiring women musicians wanting to break into the industry in this local area?

As a woman starting out in music, I would recommend going to some open mics like the acoustic club at Small Seeds or the Norther Quarter's, just to test the water in a supportive environment and build some confidence to perform. But most importantly, just do what you want with your music unapologetically. Others will only believe if you believe in yourself too.

Carol Hodge

Carol Hodge is a seven-fingered, piano-pounding, Yorkshire-dwelling Singer-Songwriter. Think Regina Spektor meets Billy Bragg, but with fewer digits and a continuous existential crisis, sandwiched between bitter irony and relentless optimism. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry, but will definitely feel something. In case she looks familiar, Carol recently won Classic Rock’s Track Of The Week reader vote, is a long-term collaborator with Crass founder Steve Ignorant, plays keys for Texan country rock star Ryan Hamilton and has guested with Ginger Wildheart, Headsticks and The Membranes.

Social Media:

What challenges do you believe female musicians face today?

It’s a fight against low expectations. It’s not expected that you can write your own songs and play an instrument well. There are still a woefully small number of bands that include women playing big festivals. Women, especially young women, are judged primarily on their physical attractiveness, which believe it or not, you can’t hear on an album.

How do you feel about the way female musicians are portrayed or represented in the industry?

Tired. Pressurised. I’m nearly 40, and I still sometimes wonder if I need to go on a diet and dance around in my underwear to achieve success. Saying that, there are thankfully a lot of alternatives to this too. Maybe I just notice the hyper sexualisation in pop music because I’m getting old.

Recently, there have been a huge amount of ‘female themed’ events around the world. What are your opinions on this?

As with any social equality movement, there needs to be a period of positive discrimination. If we need to start with forcing people to tick boxes, then that’s got to be done. I think creating safe spaces for women to express themselves and be inspired by other women is invaluable, particularly at grass roots level. However, my fear is that this will lead to ghettoisation, which is ultimately counterproductive. So, it’s a fantastic start, and very empowering, but the end goal has to be inclusivity across the board.

Do you believe that themes such as these are still necessary in today’s industry and why?

As Keychange highlight in their brilliant campaigning, the numbers still don’t add up. There is still an overall gender pay gap of more than 10% in the music industry, and up to 30% at the major labels. Women account for just 20% of the top UK artists in 2021. Things are starting to change, but we need to keep working for equality.


OCT 30th: Wainsgate Chapel, Hebden Bridge (matinee gig, with Birds and Beasts):

NOV 25th: Small Seeds, Huddersfield (Vinyl launch gig, with Johnny Campbell):

Georgina Hardcastle

Georgina Hardcastle writes and performs mostly original songs with some interpretations of the songs she loves thrown in for good measure. People have described her music as ‘old-sounding,’ which she takes as a compliment.

What challenges do you believe female musicians face today?

One big challenge is simply the expectations of society, on a small and large scale. It’s still seen as unusual at best when a woman decides to devote her life to a career rather than family, even more so when that career is in a creative field, like music. And if a woman does have children and still wants to follow a career in music, more challenges result from that, as I’ve found out myself!

Another challenge I’ve experienced is how sometimes men have wanted to guide me or ‘help’ me do well as a musician, but their motives have been selfish and, in some cases, predatory. One guy many years ago wanted to take me on tour with him and the only reason I didn’t do it was because he couldn’t wait until the tour to actually try it on with me and I realised what he was up to. Things like that make you more careful but it also restricts you.

Do you believe that female-themed events such as these are still necessary in today’s industry and why?

Yes and no. Yes, because inequality still exists, and female themed events are meant to promote female artists, which is a good thing. And no, because in my heart of hearts I believe that the best music speaks to the human experience, not only one gender, and that artists of every gender and identity should be free to write music about everything that is truly meaningful, which will not always be gendered experience. I’m not a fan of pigeonholing, which these events sometimes inspire. I don’t know if they’re necessary, but I think they have pros and cons.

Who is your favourite female musician/act and why?

This changes all the time but for now I’ll say Nanci Griffith because she passed away recently, and it hit me hard. I love her because her music is generally just stories about people, and there is great scope in her songs; you can listen to an album of hers and feel as though you’ve lived through a full and varied life - fallen in love, yes, but also worked, and travelled, and felt homesick, and wondered about the universe, and watched the world change. It’s the broad experience in her music that really speaks to me.

Written for The Turntable by Hannah Robinson-Wright. Hannah is a 24-year-old aspiring author and poet from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After achieving a first-class degree in English Literature, she is now completing a Masters at the Manchester Writing School and spends her free time exploring Huddersfield's idyllic countryside, maintaining a vegan food blog and performing around the UK with various musical projects.

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