This year’s was the ninth annual She Rocks Awards , and the first time they have gone virtual. Presented by the Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN), the event opened with a red carpet Q&A with the honorees, hosted by John Stapleton, followed by a pre-show countdown hosted by Yahoo Entertainment music editor Lyndsey Parker, and then the 90 minute ceremony kicked in, hosted by Lzzy Hale of the rock band Halestorm, featuring honorees including Nancy Wilson, The Go-Go’s, Cherie Currie, Cindy Blackman Santana, Amy Lee, Margaret Cho and many others.
It’s easy to forget just how culturally and socially significant the She Rocks Awards are because being part of the event is just so much fun, particularly via this year’s virtual celebration. That’s not to say that the event lost any of its focus or awareness of the need to recognize women working in the music industry, but this virtual hangout had such feel-good vibes, so much great music, and such meaningful commentary that it was easy to get caught up in the positivity of it all.
The event opened with performance of “Ride” by Magnolia Boulevard, followed by show host Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger’s performance of Halestorm’s “Rock Show”. Both songs seemed carefully chosen to bring in some rising energy, particularly “Rock Show”, which deals, thematically, with a young fan finding their vocation in music by attending a concert
There were also several other riveting and often high-energy live performances during the event by honorees, interspersed through the award acceptance speeches, including Cherie Currie with special guests, Suzi Quatro, Jake Hays and Nick Gilder, on “Roxy Roller”. The audience was also treated to an exclusive new Evanescence song “Use My Voice” performed solo on the piano by the band’s leader Amy Lee, a song which will appear on their 2021 album The Bitter Truth. The song’s subject matter, again, was spot on and obviously carefully chosen for maximum impact, with a resounding chorus of “Don’t you speak for me”, reinforcing the importance of voice and agency among female artists.
The Go-Go’s also performed their new song “Club Zero” which really spoke to an experience of 2020 where a music club has to be a “state of mind” rather than “on a map”, but encouraged a creative response to limitations. If this wasn’t enough kiss-ass content somehow, Nancy Wilson likewise performed a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song “The Rising” with her backing band, which is also a single from her 2021 solo album. The song has particular significance for Nancy Wilson, as she’s revealed in previous interviews, as an inspiring and affirming piece.
Starr Parodi, who was also the event’s first-ever honoree from the composing community, also performed an original song about gun violence, “Rise,” with her daughter, Isolde Fair. While the song was more reflective, it was also very emotive and suggested the breadth of music’s ability to address the times that we live in. The final performance, after the awards distribution, featured Command Sisters with an acoustic rendition of the hit Go-Go’s song, “We’ve Got The Beat” to close things out.
Hearing from each of the honorees and from other guests bringing messages of support to the She Rocks Awards was every bit as entertaining as these very intimate musical performances. Hearing from Cherie Currie about her 45 years of making music, being reminded of Margaret Cho’s extreme versatility in her achievements, and gaining the perspective of Producer Ann Mincelli rebuilding her music community with Alicia Keyes were all heart-warming and educational experiences for viewers at home. The variety of companies that these women had founded or become involved in, and the number of charitable projects that they have contributed to were awe-inspiring reminders of how much impact women have already had in the music world and will increasingly demonstrate.
As Lizzy Hale said towards the close of the ceremony, “When you create a space for diversity, you open doors for future role models, like tonight.” By going virtual this year, the awards actually extended the reach of that space and that opening of doors, since there’s little doubt that whoever watched the awards was left far more aware of the fact that there is a welcoming community of women working in music in a wide variety of careers and making significant impact in all of them.
Some honorees, like Sharon Hennessy, chose to directly address the social realities of growing up in a “male dominated” industry, but also reinforced that she had received respectful treatment from mentors before encouraging women to “step forward and shine”, while others, like Cindy Blackwood Santana, approached the role of women in music as a matter of perseverance and finding a sense of vocation, encouraging everyone to “Keep rocking, keep smiling, keep playing.” The fact that everyone involved had the chance to deliver the kind of message that they found most meaningful to the audience also supporting the important prevailing idea behind the She Rocks Awards, that women can make their voices heard in a wide variety of equally meaningful ways.
After delivering such an obviously powerful and successful event this year, it will be interesting to see what kind of approach the She Rocks Awards takes next year, perhaps incorporating more virtual elements alongside more traditional live event elements.
Here is a full list of the 2021 She Rocks Awards honorees and their awards:
- Nancy Wilson, Legend Award – co-founder of the multi-platinum, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band Heart
- The Go-Go’s, Icon Award – the first all-female band to top the Billboard charts that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments
- Cherie Currie, Groundbreaker Award – founding member of the pioneering all-female rock band The Runaways
- Cindy Blackman Santana, Inspire Award – respected jazz and rock drummer with Santana and Lenny Kravitz among many others
- Amy Lee, Powerhouse Award – co-founder and lead vocalist for the rock band Evanescence
- Margaret Cho, Dreaming Out Loud Award – Emmy and Grammy-nominated stand-up comedian, actress, fashion designer, author, and singer-songwriter
- Starr Parodi, Vision Award – composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, music director and president of The Alliance For Women Film Composers
- Ann Mincieli, Mad Skills Award – GRAMMY-winning recording engineer, studio coordinator for Alicia Keys and co-founder of NYC-destination studio Jungle City
- Sharon Hennessey, Excellence Award – President of On-Stage, The Music People (a division of JAM) and the driving force behind the company’s two brands, On-Stage and TMP-Pro
- Gwen Bethel Riley, Trailblazer Award – Senior VP of Music for Peloton Interactive
- Kim Warnick, Warrior Award – Executive Director of Calling All Crows
- Laura Clapp Davidson, Champion Award – singer/songwriter and Retail Market Development Lead at Shure Microphones