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December 03, 1998 - Image 23

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-03

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10B .The Michigan Daily Wekend Magazine --Thur day,'Odembei?9q$

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The Michigan Da WVeekend Mag

Amos helps
stereotypes
By Amy Barber
Daily Arts Writer
Tonight's appearance ofTori Amos at
the Breslin Center in East Lansing rep-
resents more than just an artist making
a stop to promote her latest album.
It is a striking example of a phenom-
enon that has taken much too long to
gain the tention it deserves. It is the
voice of one of many talented women
whose entire genre of music has been
overlooked and underappreciated for
years.
It is a statement that it has become
possible to succeed in the music busi-
ness as a woman with nothing more
than a voice, an instrument and a bru-
tally honest, emotional truth - even
without massive sex appeal and the
ability to belt out the highest note on the
piano.
Mirroring practically every other
business in the U.S., rock 'n' roll
started out as a very male profession.
Guys like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee
Lewis and Chuck Berry topped the
charts in the beginning, and were fol-
lowed by The Beatles and The
Rolling Stones.
Not that girl groups didn't exist -
The Supremes achieved astonishing
success, but they weren't taken serious-
ly by record companies. Successful
women in music were vehicles for hit
songs who could look cute and sing
well - not creative, talente4 artists.
But the emergence of more folk-
oriented rock into mainstream music
benefited women who were talented
singer-songwriters. With Bob Dylan
and the Grateful Dead came Joni
Mitchell and Joan Baez, with raw
guitar playing and meaningful, intro-
i .1
Ala
Rasi pikr
UmVO Ha

V T O

s to shatter rock 'n' roll
one show at a time

Museum plans fashion exhibit

spective lyrics.
Female singer-songwriters were still
the exception, though, and the prece-
dent of male-dominance remained
unchanged and unthreatened through-
out the '70s and '80s.
In more recent history, it is almost
impossible to name more than a handful
of female singer-songwriters whose
music was incorporated into the main-
stream. Sure, Celine Dion and Toni
Braxton can sing and they even look
good doing it. But they are by no stretch
of the imagination ingenious songwrit-
ers and generally incapable of playing
an instrument.
Radio stations generously supported
boy bands and even the Janet Jacksons
and Mariah Careys whose sex appeal
could sell albums, but had no problem
blatantly rejecting female singer-song-
writers who should have been selling
albums solely as a result of outstanding
musical content.
But then something happened.
People started to listen. The style start-
ed to sell. Out of the woodwork and
onto top 40 charts came amazing artists
like Sarah McLachlan, Melissa
Etheridge and Tori Amos, who got the
ball rolling for future singer-songwrit-
ers.
Instead of singing cheesy pop songs,
they weren't afraid to be emotional -
to openly present issues such as stalking
and sexuality. Amos shocked listeners
as she denounced religion in more than
one song and told the tale of a fan who
attempted to rape her in "Me and a
Gun" in her '92 release, "Little
Earthquakes." Some would say amaz-
ingly, she actually sold records.
Things started to change. Women in

music became emotional. They
became excited. They got sad. They
got angry. Most of all, they became
confident. And people wanted to hear
what they had to say.
This realization became most appar-
ent in '95 when Canada's Alanis
Morissette ascended to America's
biggest musical sensation. Her anger-
inspired "Jagged Little Pill" became the
no. I selling record in the country.
Young women everywhere could relate
to her and even some men became fans,
out of respect for her work.
Morissette certainly wasn't one of the
first artists to come out with this kind of
music - by the time Morissette,
became famous, fed-up feminists, such
as Ani Difranco, were veterans of bril-
liantly expressive songwriting. But
Morissette made it mainstream. She
made it popular. She made people lis-
ten.
And things could only get better for
female singer-songwriters. The realiza-
tion really started to catch on when
McLachlan announced plans for Lilith
Fair, a touring summer festival to cele-
brate women in music - an accurate
definition of "girl power," non-Spice
Girls style.
Critics said it was doomed to fail
because no one would show up to a
concert with no men on the bill. But
as concert venue after concert venue
produced sold-out show after sold-
out show, the critics were silenced by
legions of screaming fans across the
country.
It was actually becoming normal
to hear female singer-songwriters on
the radio. Jewel, Sheryl Crow and
Paula Cole topped the charts.

ROCK 'N' ROLL
Continued from Page 6B
opportunity to wish they could go
through life wearing such garbs as a
Union Jack/Stars and Stripes cape
big enough to choke the creatures
climbing Pink Floyd's "The Wall"
sculpture.
As is almost always a problem in a
romp through rock 'n' roll's history,
some of the video presentations and
full-length movies once again barf
back the exhausted theme that it
really is so very tough to be a rock
star. Visitors can again hear the
world's most bitter man - read
aging rocker Pete Townshend -
screaming at the camera: "Jimmi,
Janis, Keith Moon - these were my
friends! They may have been your
icons but they were my fucking
friends."
But the museum's movies, found
primarily on the fourth floor and
ground level, and mountain of TV-
screen presentations, located every-
where else, also reveal the good and
the bad about rock 'n' roll and rock
'n' rollers that has fascinated the
world for more than four decades.
From footage of life on the road, on-
stage and in the studio with every-
one from Bill Haley and the Comets
to Etta James to the Smashing
Pumpkins and from Aerosmith's
Stephen Tyler's hyena laugh and
realization that he "must have snort-
ed all of Peru" to a full-length docu-
mentary where a narrator pretends
to tell the story of Elvis according to
Elvis - all of the museum's video
presentations are worth hitting the
theaters for.
The museum's fifth and sixth
floor are devoted primarily to
immortalizing The King. Visitors

Dec. 3: Part
What The Rock 'n' Roll
Where: Downtown Cevi
How: Take 1-23 South tc
to the Ohio Turnpike 8C
East to 1-480 East whit
Follow 1-480 through Cl
Street. You will pass Ja
'n' Roll Hall of Fame an
can't miss it without pt
How Long: 2 1/2 hours
What's There: A history
so much from Anthrax tc
hours as easily as you cz
not quite see everything
wrote to Jim Morrison's ;
after holding his son oi i
first-ever guitar, the rock
has at least something E
strictly forbidden. You m
era as you will be forced
near anything interesting

ADRIANA YUGOVICH/Dally
Tori Amos will hit the Breslin Center stage as her music, albums and tours contin-
ue to make the rock 'n' roll world a very different place.

Courtesyi of Thie Rock Wn Roil Hall of Fame and Museumj
The "Video Killed the Radio Star" showcases the Itense marriage of rock W'roll
and music videos. Located on the museum's second level, the faster you can read
and understand the numerous screens the more you will enjoy what you see.

Women like Shawn Colvin, who had
been struggling to succeed in the
music business for years were final-
ly getting heard. The fame of already
famous performers like McLachlan
and Amos skyrocketed.
Amos never played at Lilith Fair,
but she didn't have to. She and other
singer-songwriters could finally
headline their own shows. More
women than ever could sell out
venues, large and small, throughout
the United States.
A CAPPELLA
Continued from Page 4B
audiences." 58 Greene just completed
its fall concert and is going into the stu-
dio to record the follow-up to 1997's
"Greenie Sexy Cool" CD.
One of the more established a cap-
pella ensembles at the University,
Amazin' Blue was one of six groups
to perform at Carnegie Hall this
spring for the final round of the
National Championship of College
A Cappella. Jim Daly won Best
Soloist for his "Time After Time,"
which can be found on Amazin'
Blue's newest CD, "Alinighter." An
alumnis of the group, Lyell Haynes,
went on to join Blind Man's Bluff, a

While female singer-songwriters
may still not have an equal voice in the
music business, their voices are louder
and stronger than ever, and show no
signs of quieting down.
Which is why tonight's appear-
ance of Tori Amos at the Breslin
Center in East Lansing represents
more than just an artist making a
stop to promote her latest album. It
represents a successful result of the
historic struggle of the female
singer-songwriter.
professional a cappella company in
Chicago. Recently, the "How
Amazin' Blue Got its Groove Back"
concert wowed listeners.
Although particular nuances distin-
guish one a cappella organization from
another, all have at least two things in
common: weekly rehearsals and an
infatuation for human kinship and
expression through voice.
"I think the social and musical rein-
force each other," 58 Greene music
director Dave Fessler said. "If you
know and love every person in the
group, you can be totally comfortable
and confident being on stage with
them. You're suddenly a unit of 14 peo-
ple, rather than 14 individuals who hap-
pen to be singing together"

interested in seeing all six floors of
the hall of fame in one day should
remember to pace themselves -
when there, it seems as easy to
spend six days as it does six hours
within the rockified confines by
Lake Erie.
Finally, no visit would be com-
plete without a visit to the museum's
on-sight gift shop. Know before you
go that the hall of fame's selection

of rarities, bootlegs and other hard-
to-track-down items by all of your
favorite mainstream and off-the-
beaten-path rock sensations may not
be as excellent as your parents or
older friends may have told you.
Still, you will have little difficulty
taking home tons of rock must-buys
as long as a few extra dollars is no
obstacle - especially if you are an
Elvis fanatic.

THE PER
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