Taking place at the 2024 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, the annual She Rocks Awards celebrated their 12th year, honouring women in the music industry. The ceremony showcases women in all different aspects of the business, from instrumentalists to producers to composers to A&R execs to CEOs and beyond.
“The 2024 She Rocks Awards were nothing short of beautiful,” says MetalTalk’s Shannon Wilk, “especially from my perspective as a young woman in the business.”
Years of hard work and dedication by Laura Whitmore, the founder of the Awards and The Women’s International Music Network, and her team, the She Rocks Awards earned a partnership with the NAMM organisation for the very first time.
This year’s lineup of honorees featured much diversity, even within the confines of women in music. As I was getting to know a bit about each honoree through a series of red-carpet interviews, I gained a plethora of insight into these women’s incredible lives and careers. With that, I grew more and more excited to hear their speeches and performances later in the evening.
After finishing up the interviews, I took my seat for the evening. The night began with PRS Artist Jimena Fosado. Hailing from Mexico City and now based in Los Angeles, Fosado performs instrumental guitar pieces with a clear passion for her playing.
Between songs, Jimena shares her story and how she is honouring her late mother through her music as she performs at this special event. Fosado is backed by two equally talented female musicians, Lex Wolfe on bass and Melanie Jo on drums, who collectively make a stellar opening for the evening.
As Jimena Fosado closed out her set, founder Laura Whitmore took the stage and excitedly said, “Welcome to my little party.” Whitmore shares that to date, they’ve given 137 She Rocks Awards so far and are adding more this year.
On a more serious note, Laura shares that the pace of progress toward gender equity has slowed. In an effort to combat that, Whitmore describes the She Rocks Awards as “not only dismantling barriers, but meticulously constructing a music landscape characterised by equity, dynamism, and a genuine representation of the multi-faceted voices within our diverse community.”
Laura Whitmore gives a background on Susanna Hoffs, exploring her many current projects that The Bangles fans might not be familiar with, including solo music, her first novel, and more. Following Hoffs’ introduction, co-host AIJIA was introduced. These two made a great team, introducing the honorees and transitioning between segments of the show.
The screens beside the stage are illuminated, showing the first honoree of the evening, Sylvia Massy, for the Groundbreaker Award. ‘The Radiant Being’ is known for producing countless legendary artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, System Of A Down and many more. “Is this a party or what!?” Massy asks.
Interestingly, Massy spoke about working with a group of Iranian women who were political refugees due to their pop songwriting. “Women around the world are really restricted with what they can do. So I’m here onstage tonight getting an award for it, and I’m so thankful for that.”
AIJIA, in a velvet purple suit, takes the stage, introducing Susanna Hoffs and her acoustic performance of The Bangles’ Hazy Shade of Winter. Hoffs still boasts a soft, velvety voice that she has maintained from the early days of her career until now, 40 years later.
Following Susanna’s performance, AIJIA introduces the next honoree, Lindsay Love-Bivens. Bivens is part of Taylor Guitars’ A&R department and uses her position to highlight BIPOC artists and women in music. In 2024, Bivens is honoured with the Vision Award.
Hosted by Monster Energy, Australia’s rapidly rising rock n’ roll star, Kelsy Karter, is honoured with the Spirit Award. Karter and her band carry the torch of rock music into the modern music scene with unmatched attitude and rebellion.
Karter steps up to the podium and accepts her award, “this is fuckin’ weird,” she says, grinning through her red lips. “There is not a woman in this room who hasn’t been told no, or you need to change to make it: be sexier, be skinnier, be louder, girls can’t play rock ‘n’ roll – myself included.
“But I didn’t get into this business to prove anyone wrong; that has just been an added bonus.” This line by Ms. Kelsy Karter resonated with me most as a young female musician. Karter and her band give a powerful and emotion-driven performance of their song God Knows I’ve Tried.
The next spotlight is on Holly G, who is being honoured with the Champion Award. She founded the Black Opry, which showcases and advocates for black entertainers.
Holly G shares a startling study conducted by Dr Jada Watson, which showed that “over a span of 20 years, only 19 black artists were played on country radio, and only three of those were women.” This shows how important it is for her to continue her work for women and BIPOC in country music.
Oscar-nominated composer Laura Karpman is honored at the She Rocks Awards with the Dreaming Out Loud Award. In her signature half-white/half-black glasses, Karpman takes the stage for her acceptance speech.
She avoids giving the speech she had planned and shifts to going off the cuff after being “So moved by some of the things that so many of you have said tonight, younger women than me. I’m 64 years old.” Karpman talks about out-of-reach dreams that are no longer out of reach because of the work of activism and breaking the glass ceiling.
“I’m going to sing for the first time in 30 years, so forgive me,” Karpman humbly says before leaving the podium to join a group of musicians as they perform a piece from her score for American Fiction.
You’ve heard of legendary pop artists like Post Malone and Selena Gomez, but who is the girl behind the keys onstage with those artists? It’s Bonnie McIntosh. “Here at She Rocks, I feel like a door has been opened to young people to have access to successful women and mentors who they can look up to,” Bonnie says.
A new award given out at the 2024 She Rocks Awards is the NAMM Entrepreneur Of The Year, awarded to Cassandra Sotos, artist, songwriter, and international-touring violinist, as well as Co-Chair of Women In Music Nashville Chapter.
Co-host of the evening, AIJIA, takes the stage for a performance of her 2023 single Tough Love. The song chronicles a story of true friendship without sugar coating.
The next award of the night is the Achiever Award, going to Melinda Newman, music journalist and Billboard’s Executive Editor for the West Coast and Nashville. Newman poetically speaks about the beginning of her career, working with younger writers and how to live your best life.
Representing another aspect of the business, Jamie Deering, CEO of Deering Banjos, is being honoured with the Excellence Award. Deering carries on and honours her parents’ vision for the company they founded when she was just three years old. Showing off a Deering banjo is Billie Feather with a performance of her original, Sister Song.
The Vision Award of the 2024 She Rocks Awards is presented to Lindsey Stirling. Stirling has become a legend through creating her unique performance, combining playing violin, dancing and aerial into one mesmerising live show. Stirling shares stories of her mom’s ongoing support, and the audience sees her genuine emotion as she gets choked up.
After seeing a video Lindsey Stirling did with Amy Lee of Evanescence, AIJIA returns to the stage to introduce Vixen guitarist and Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp musical director Britt Lightning.
After her speech, Lightning is joined by Vixen bandmates Julia Lage and Lorraine Lewis, as well as Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp-ers, to perform Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends.
For the final award of the night, Lyndsey Parker takes the stage to introduce pop legend Debbie Gibson, who is being honoured with the Trailblazer Award. Gibson walks out with a long bleach-blonde ponytail and a sparkling black dress.
Debbie speaks about growing up with her “mom-ager” and sister, who did her lights and sound at her early shows. Gibson speaks about the timeline of the anniversary of her mom’s passing, followed by the anniversary of her album Electric Youth. This award, she says, marks “a trifecta of intense days.” Gibson is joined by her phenomenal guitarist Ariel Bellvalaire for a performance of Legendary from her album The Body Remembers, as well as a medley of her classic hits.
The 2024 She Rocks Awards was such a beautiful and connective experience for women in the music industry and it was incredible to witness. All the honorees gave insightful and inspiring speeches unique to their own story.
The National Association of Music Merchants, known as NAMM, hold the 2024 edition of their show from 25 January 2024 to 28 January 2024 in Anaheim, California.
This is a world-famous trade-only business show catering to domestic and international dealers and distributors restricted to owners, suppliers, journalists, employees, endorsed artists, and guests of NAMM member companies.
All MetalTalk NAMM 2024 coverage can be found at www.metaltalk.net/tag/namm-2024.