With a name like 'Women In Voice', I wasn’t sure whether to expect musical entertainment or a radical feminist rally.
While it’s definitely female-focused, the purpose of Women In Voice is not to fight for feminine power but to celebrate it; which in many ways is far more powerful.
Leading us through the evening was international musical therapist, Jan Van De Stool. Hailing from the quirky imagination of Queenie Van De Zandt, Jan had me ugly-laughing to the point of tears most of the time she was on stage. She taught us interpretive dance moves, accidentally insulted most of the cast and crew and offended one touchy audience member so much he didn’t come back after the interval. She was brilliant.
Over the course of the evening Jan introduced us to Emma Dean, Carol Lloyd, Alison St Ledger and Yani. Each woman took a piece of their life and brought it to the stage to share with us. Their story-telling was punctuated with the music that meant something to them during those times.
The songs were wild and varied but what was striking about all of them was the new depth of understanding made possible by hearing them filtered through another person’s life. There were songs I already loved, like Bjork’s 'Hyperballad'. But Emma Dean’s interpretation opened up a whole new angle, making it fresh again and revealing a layer of meaning I hadn’t considered before.
Then there were songs I would usually flick past if I was trying to pick a radio station, like 'Calling All Angels' which was sung by all of the women during Carol Lloyd’s set. Seeing Carol’s emotion during the song and hearing the ladies’ rendition, I suddenly saw beauty where before I had just seen some old rock song.
To have your eyes opened up like that and to be taken along on such personal journeys with these brave women was a remarkable experience.
Women In Voice perform the Judith Wright Centre until 24 October.