She Rocks Awards

The first ever She Rocks Awards, set up by The Women’s International Music Network to take place at The NAMM Show, really rocked! The inspiring event started with a mass vocal warm-up, honoured some amazing women in the music business and finished with a stunning performance by Orianthi, Nik West and drummer Brittany Maccarello.

Tish Ciravolo & Orianthi

Celebrating musicians, innovators and campaigners, it was the first awards event we had ever been to where we all took part in a vocal warm-up, thanks to vocal coach Susan M. Carr author of The Art of Screaming! Musician and author of Guitar for Girls: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Acoustic or Electric Guitar, Ali Handal got the crowd going with an acoustic set.

WiMN founder, the singer/songwriter and music PR Laura B. Whitmore was the brains behind the event, and proved a fabulous host.

Laura B. Whitmore

She handed the first award to Holly Knight. Grammy Award winner Holly is a songwriter, performer and producer who has worked with a host of amazing artists including Tina Turner (writing “The Best”), and Aerosmith, and was nominated into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame 2013. She was awarded the ”Mad Skills” trophy for her all round talent, and gave a rousing acceptance speech.

Where’s it written that girls can’t rock? It doesn’t take brute strength, all it really takes is dexterity, skill, dedication, talent and practising.

Holly Knight The WiMN

Holly said she grew up listening to a wide range of music from classical and jazz to Ravi Shankar and discovered rock on her own, listening to bands such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd - though she was most influenced by Queen. She revealed some of her writing secrets. She is a keyboard player but writes mostly on guitar and bass.

I lower the E to D and you have two low string fifths. You can write pretty much anything in rock and roll.

Mary Peavey, Holly Knight, Laura Taylor, Orianthi, Tish Ciravolo

Holly paid tribute to the new breed of women guitarists who can hold their own ‘just fine’. She said they should be judged for qualities such as musicianship and performance, not on being good ‘for a girl’. But there is still a way to go when it comes to recording studios.

There are not enough female producers. Being creative takes a lot of qualities and sensitivities that women have in doses.

Next up for being honoured was the young star Orianthi, an Australian prodigy who first played guitar at the age of six. She went on to share a stage with Prince, and record her own albums, with a new one “Heaven In This Hell” coming out in March. She is currently lead guitarist in Alice Cooper’s band. Orianthi was delighted to accept the “Inspire Award” and she cast her mind back to previous NAMM Show visits earlier in her career.

Orianthi The WiMN

I would play the PRS booth every year. To see my own model up on the wall was insane, a dream come true. I hope to inspire more female players.

She played her signature PRS guitar at the event, and signed one which was donated by PRS to be auctioned to raise money for Women’s Music Summit scholarships.

Orianthi & Nik West

Orianthi also paid tribute to her sponsors TC Electronic and Dean Markley too.

Laura Whitmore then introduced Tish Ciravolo, the founder of Daisy Rock Guitars, who has “rocked stages all over the country”, and presented her with the “Vision Award”. Tish is a bass player and currently in punk band sASSafrASS. Her company Daisy Rock had a host of female artists performing for them at NAMM and have recently signed up Kate Nash. Tish outlined the philosophy behind her guitars.

I created Daisy Rock so more girls would be inspired and think ‘I can do that’.

Tish Ciravolo The WiMN

Next up was an “Icon Award” for Mary Peavey President of Peavey Amps, and a force behind after school education programmes. Mary is an arts and education advocate and music-industry executive, on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Board of Commissioners and is a Board Member of the national Afterschool Alliance. She also plays a key role in producing the annual “Mississippi Grammy Legacy Celebration,” the state has produced more winners and nominees per capita than any other.

Mary praised the many women who make Peavey Amps in the US factory.

Mary Peavey & Laura B. Whitmore The WiMN

One of the most wonderful things about women is that they give back.

Mary gave a very funny acceptance speech, culminating in the unforgettable line:

I took off my bra on behalf of the women and I’m still waving it!

There was a “Champion Award” for Guitar Center’s Laura Taylor. Laura is Senior Vice President of Operations, and is spearheading the Women In Music initiative at this huge US retailer to make things more female-friendly, through promotions, staff training and new publicity material.

Laura Taylor The WiMN

Two surprise awards thrilled unsuspecting guests. The first was an “Endurance Award” for the founder of ROCKRGRL magazine, the first national publication for female musicians in the United States, and also founder of MEOW – Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women, Carla DeSantis Black. Carla is a music and life coach and has organized the first MEOW convention in Austin, TX, in October with the legend that is Suzi Quatro, the first female bass player to become a major rock star. The most memorable Musicians’ quotes from ROCKRGRL have recently been turned into a book, GRLTalk.

Carla DeSantis Black

For such a long time I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. Women just want to be musicians and it’s important that we support them to play music on their own terms.

The final award was the “Next Generation” award which went to the powerhouse that is Pauline France of Fender. Pauline is a guitar player and teacher and the force behind Girl Rock Nation. Laura described her as “a woman who works tirelessly to do the right thing,” and “an inspiration for young women joining our industry.”

Pauline France The WiMN

Pauline paid tribute to all the women who had supported her over the years, including her first guitar teacher in Mexico, Teresa Madiedo.

The event finished with a thrilling performance from Orianthi, Nik West and Brittany Maccarello which left the crowd screaming for more.

Nominations are already open for the 2014 She Rocks Awards - we can’t wait!

Signed Daisy Rock guitar

The 2013 awards were held in partnership with NewBay Media.