If you gathered women from three generations and asked each to recall the music played during her senior prom, you’d get three very different answers.
One might remember dancing to Brenda Lee and another to Donna Summer. The youngest might mention Gwen Stefani.
A traveling exhibition likely to spark individual memories and conversations across the generations opens this month at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix.
It’s perfectly timed given all the controversy surrounding recent artistic choices made by singer Miley Cyrus, once best known for portraying Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel.
“Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power,” developed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, highlights the musical contributions of more than 70 women.
It features instruments, original hand-written lyrics, concert posters, video footage and stage outfits including the simple dress Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane wore to Woodstock and a gold bustier with cones worn by Madonna for her Blond Ambition tour.
Mary Wilson. Wanda Jackson. Chrissie Hynde. Cass Elliott. Mahalia Jackson. Michelle Wilson. Kim Deal. LaVerne Baker. Tina Weymouth. Rhianna. Ruth Brown. Patti Smith. Queen Latifah. They’re all included, as are many others.
We forget sometimes just how far women have come during the last 100 years. Tracing their musical stories from the 1920s through today is a rich reminder.
“Women Who Rock” explores the roots of rock, the counterculture movement, the disco era and more – including punk rock and rap.
The exhibition includes the following sections:
- Suffragettes to Juke-Joint Mamas : The Foremothers/Roots of Rock.
- Get Outta that Kitchen, Rattle Those Pots and Pans: Rock and Roll Emerges
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow: The Early 1960s/Girl Groups
- Revolution, the Counterculture and the Pill: The Late 1960s
- I Will Survive: The 1970s – Rockers to Disco Divas
- Dance this Mess Around: Punk and Post Punk
- Causing a Commotion: Madonna and the Pop Explosion
- Ladies First: The ’90s and the New Millennium
Featured rockers with Arizona ties include Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt.
“Women Who Rock” traveled first to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
The MIM hosts the exhibition from Oct. 19 to April 20, 2014.
Admission is $10 for the exhibition only, and $7 when purchased with general museum admission.
General admission tickets give you access to other museum galleries — including those devoted to different continents. It’s fascinating to see the musical similarities between countries that have significant political divides.
The MIM also boasts an artist gallery filled with artifacts from famous musicians (including youth favorite Taylor Swift) and an experience gallery filled with diverse instruments visitors of all ages are encouraged to play.
Take the women and girls who matter most in your life, and linger together over musical moments that reflect the times we once lived in.
Then hope the daughter once content with princess or pirate costumes doesn’t insist on going the way of Lady Gaga’s meat dress for Halloween this year.