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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Speaking up and singing out: Concert features local female songwriters

Photo courtesy of Ore Dock Brewing Co: Left, local musician Kerry Yost performs at a past venue. Right, NMU junior public relations major Heather Evans strums a tune. Both women will show their talents at an Ore Dock Brewing Co. concert at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The soft rhythm of six strings resonates. Chords exchange a soft conversation, and then a voice of nostalgia whispers feelings of long-lost love. The tone takes you on a journey back to the days when innocence was bliss and love could last. The voice inspires you to dream. This is a song by Haley Bussell who’s bringing her talents to the stage, and she’s not the only female voice in town.

The Ore Dock Brewing Co. will showcase four local talents from 8 to 11 p.m. tonight, Nov. 16 in the concert titled “Don’t Tell Me to Smile: An Evening with Marquette’s fiercest female songwriters.” The night’s lineup features Haley Bussell, Heather Evans, Elsa Jensen and Kerry Yost, and they’ll perform a variety of original music with styles from folk to soul to rock.

Entertainment and floor manager Kris Wierenga orchestrated this event in honor of the strong women he works with and to raise awareness to a bigger issue he sees in the musical community.

After hosting the “Festival of the Angry Bear” this April that featured nine bands and only one female band member, Wierenga determined that the music scene is male-dominating. He decided to take action and show how women are just as talented as the men are in this community. 

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“Rock and roll is often thought of as a boys’ game, and that’s very much not the case,” Wierenga said, adding, “Any of these women stack up to any musician we have in this town.”

Too often, it’s assumed that women can only do so much with music, he continued. Women are sometimes stigmatized with certain niches, and there’s a lack of recognition in the music industry, he said.

“There’s the rock and roll star, and women are the groupies,” Wierenga said, describing a popular mindset. “[But] there’s not a one-size approach. Music doesn’t work like that.”

Folk-soul singer-songwriter and musician, Haley Bussell, an NMU junior public relations major, said there are struggles being a female musician and songwriter in a man’s world.

“It can be really frustrating because you don’t get taken seriously sometimes,” she said. “Women are way more than that girl who needs to be saved.”

From her personal experience, Bussell said some men see women as less qualified to talk about the performance and composition of music. Typically, women have to prove they know what they’re talking about before men see them as equally talented musicians,
she said.

“It’s just wild that needs to happen before people take you seriously as a musician,”
she added.

Bussell said this event will not only shine light on female talent but unite other female artists.

“I hope it inspires them to take action and get their music out there,” Bussell said. “This is really necessary and empowering.”

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Kerry Yost of Marquette, who plays a variety of folk and rock, said many of the gender roles in music has to do with the impact that society brings.

“There’s a lot of male dominance, and as [such] women are affected by the socialization that comes from a patriarchal society,” Yost said. “The struggle is real.”

Sometimes there are misperceptions when people don’t recognize women as musicians and songwriters and mistake them for crew members, Yost said. Other times, some question the legitimacy of a female musician’s talents, she added.

With this event, there’s an opportunity to showcase not only female talent, but also to come together as a whole and celebrate musicianship in Marquette, Yost said.

“I’m really excited to hear what each of these women have been working on,” she said, adding, “These women are incredible, talented, strong and expressive. I’m humbled and grateful to appreciate what they have to share.”

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