Laura B. Whitmore Talks Gender Equality with M.I. Pro

By Pauline France


Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) Founder, Laura B. Whitmore is the U.S. columnist for U.K.-based music trade publication MI Pro.

In her latest article, Whitmore discusses the first steps towards gender equality and gives tips to business owners and women in music alike.

Visit to read the full article.

The Women’s International Music Network Announces 2016 She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase Performers

She Rocks Showcase performers Ashley Riley (top left), Juliana Wilson (top right), Leni Stern (bottom left), and Savannah Lynne (bottom right).

She Rocks Showcase performers Ashley Riley (top left), Juliana Wilson (top right), Leni Stern (bottom left), and Savannah Lynne (bottom right).

The Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) is pleased to announce the finalists selected to perform at the 2016 She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase, taking place Thursday, June 23, 2016, from 8:30-11:00 p.m., at The Listening Room Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., during the 2016 Summer NAMM trade show. Tickets are available here.

Performers include singer-songwriter Ashley Riley, 13-year-old singer Juliana Wilson, jazz vocalist and guitarist Leni Stern, and singer-songwriter Savannah Lynne. The performers were chosen based on their submissions to

“The WiMN’s She Rocks Showcases are a part of our ongoing efforts to create opportunities and a platform for women in music,” said WiMN Founder, Laura B. Whitmore. “We aim to give a chance to as many female artists as possible across the country to display their talent in front of music industry experts, influencers, media representatives, artists, and more. Attendees are in for a real treat!”

Ashley Riley’s latest offering, Through the Thin, showcases her signature delicate-then-soaring vocals and clever storytelling. Riley is able to build an intimacy with the listener, inviting them into the songs and on a journey through the thin with her. The 13-song collection, released in April 2016, finds Riley a bit stronger and wiser than before, her down-to-the-bone vulnerability wrapped up in a cozy, warm blanket. The gritty, rootsy moments that garnered favorable comparisons to Patty Griffin and Stevie Nicks remain, backed by lush instrumentation that incorporates genres such as indie rock and pop into her folk niche. For more information, visit

Aiding topics from ageless experiences to lyrical content riddled in sarcasm, Juliana Wilson’s warm and intimate tone surfaces forcibly through wide echos of ambient backdrops as well as dynamic indie-driven pop. With content unique as it is relatable, Wilson’s visual storytelling sets the scene for any listener by combining universal narratives with conceptual standpoints through every song. Visit for more information.

Leni Stern is in the 28th year of her career as a recording artist. With her latest release Dakar Suite (LSR 2016), she continues to define herself as a genre-bending master guitarist and timely songwriter. Over the course of her career, Stern has established her vocal and guitar abilities in jazz, rock, and folk, while more recently drawing upon studies and collaborations from her international travels to places such as Kenya, India, Mali, Madagascar and Senegal. Having been awarded the Gibson Guitar’s Female Jazz Guitarist of the Year for five consecutive years, Stern has also been acknowledged for her songwriting talents by the International Songwriting Competition with an Honorable Mention in the world music category in 2009 and 2012. Visit for more information.

At 14 years old, Savannah Lynne released her first EP Aloha Nashville, marking her leap from Hawaii to the heart of the country music scene. Lynne’s dedication to music pushed her into studying college-level music theory and engineering while finishing up middle school. Her pursuit of excellence is not isolated by music alone. Lynne graduated high school at the young age of 16, and is currently attending college for music business while recording her sophomore album. Learn more at

The She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase will take place in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, June 23, 2016, from 8:30-11:00 p.m. at The Listening Room Cafe, located at 217 2nd Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37201, a short walk from the Summer NAMM convention at the Music City Center. There is $5 online pre-sale, or a suggested $7 donation on-site. Buy tickets here.

Thank you to our sponsors 108 Rock Star Guitars and Fishman. To learn more, visit

REVIEW: Shelly Peiken’s New Book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter

By Jenna Paone


You’re probably already a fan of Shelly Peiken, but you may not realize it.

The songwriter, who has penned hits such as “Bitch,” “What A Girl Wants,” and “Come On Over, Baby,” has written for everyone from Christina Aguilera to Celine Dion, from Brandy to Mandy Moore, Britney Spears to Demi Lovato, to Selena Gomez. It’s highly likely that, if you’ve listened to the radio at any point during the past few decades, you’ve heard her work.

Now, Peiken has tackled a new writing challenge with her book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, a witty and thoroughly entertaining memoir that details her journey from playing the family piano in her Long Island home to becoming a multi-platinum, GRAMMY-nominated songwriter working with the biggest names in the music business.

It’s easy to see why Peiken has had such a successful and productive career. Her writing in Confessions of a Serial Songwriter is effortless and engaging; sincere without taking herself too seriously. Thanks to her years of writing in three-minute-song format, she has the gift of tight storytelling, and some pretty fantastic source material from her years of collaborating with a host of colorful characters. Originally born from posts on her blog, and helped along by entries in what she describes as “at least a hundred journals that I’ve kept since I was twelve,” the idea for a book-length collection came as she realized that, in today’s current track-and-topliner-based songwriter reality, she “just wasn’t having as much fun.”

After years of co-writing and the creative generosity it was requires, the book helped her reclaim the joy of writing in her own voice. “I was allowed a lot more wind,” she says, “…I had a lot more time than three-minutes [to work with]. Memoir form was very indulgent because it was all about me. The palette was bigger…the stories were there.” Although she admits that she still prefers a partner for what she refers to in her book as “Song Sex,” or “the act of getting together with someone and writing a song.”

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The vignettes she writes about in her book give readers an in-depth look at the sometimes magical, sometimes maddening world of song crafting. “My favorite writers,” she says, “have been the ones who have been very confessional and very personal and not afraid to open themselves up to the parts of themselves that are not very attractive.” Peiken does just that, opening herself up in an utterly charming fashion.

From the bad-day car ride that inspired “Bitch” to meeting a shy, pre-global fame Christina Aguilera in an unremarkable North Hollywood apartment, Peiken unpacks the stories around her songs, and the variety of people who shared in their creation: good, bad, and ugly. She speaks about her influences, (Carly Simon & the Beatles, in particular), major life events (meeting her husband, Adam, and the birth of her daughter, Layla), growing older in an industry that worships youth, and the little mistakes, twists, and turns that make a career interesting. And she does so while maintaining a sense of humor about it all.

In a time when songwriters’ rights are very much in question, so much so that many in the industry are wondering whether it’s even possible to make a sustainable living in today’s music-streaming marketplace, it’s important to remember the voices behind the hits. Peiken is an advocate for fair pay for content creators in the digital marketplace and an active member of SONA (the Songwriters of North America), an organization begun by songwriting partners Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley that fights for songwriter pay parity. Though the situation is complex (to put it lightly) Peiken is determined that solutions exist: “We are not going to run away with our hands up and say ‘It’s no use.’”

If there’s one impression that Confessions of a Serial Songwriter leaves on the reader, it’s how much fun work can be if you’re doing something you truly love. Sure, there have been difficult times, but Peiken is a tough cookie and a true-blue artist to the core. “You have to have no choice,“ she says when asked about advice for up-and-coming songwriters. “You have to say, this is what I want to do, and there is no other option, [then put] one foot in front of the other, with your whole heart in it.”

Pick up your copy of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter here, and keep in touch with Peiken here for information about upcoming readings and concerts.

Laura B. Whitmore Interviewed by Ms. Career Girl


Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) Founder, Laura B. Whitmore, was interviewed by the lovely Linda Allen at Ms. Career Girl.

The two formidable women discussed turning your music passion into more, with Whitmore answering questions like how to overcome obstacles, what doesn’t work, what the big plans for the WiMN are, and much more.

Head on over to to read the interview and find more wonderful resources for women.

Singer-Songwriters Laura B. Whitmore, Ali Handal and Laura Clapp Launch She 3 Tour


From left to right, singer-songwriters Ali Handal, Laura Clapp, and Laura B. Whitmore.

Singer-songwriters and guitarists Laura B. Whitmore, Ali Handal and Laura Clapp have joined forces to launch She 3, an East Coast tour featuring these three talented musicians.

“We thought it would be a great idea to partner,” said L.A.-based artist, Ali Handal. “We will support each other with harmonies and instrumental contributions as we each share our own music in an in-the-round performance. We’re excited about the energy we’ll share in this fun, fast-paced format.”

Featuring earnest and relatable lyrics, Boston-based singer-songwriter, Laura B. Whitmore, vibrantly explores love, loss, and sense of self. Armed with an acoustic guitar, Whitmore can be equally sweet and raucous, with songs ranging from traditional singer-songwriter fare to blues, rock and even gospel. As a music industry marketer, journalist, founder of the Women’s International Music Network, and producer of the She Rocks Awards and the BackStory series for AOL, she is hooked in to the music industry at many levels. Formerly a resident of New York and San Francisco, Laura has fans and connections all over the country. She hosts a house concert series in her home in Needham, Mass., called Acoustic Kitchen. Learn more at

L.A.-based singer-songwriter, Ali Handal, holds her own among the ranks of fierce female performing singer-songwriters. She sets the stage ablaze with groove-heavy songs, fiery guitar passages and soulful lyrics delivered by her powerhouse voice. Music Connection magazine describes her as “earthy, natural, real and loaded with talent….” Handal’s songs have been featured in numerous films and hit shows like Sex and the City, Dawson’s Creek and iCarly. She’s toured Australia, Japan and beyond, provided backing vocals for Neil Young, and shared the stage with songwriting legend Paul Williams as his featured vocalist. Handal penned Guitar for Girls (Hal Leonard), a guitar method book and CD brimming with advice for aspiring musicians. Visit for more information.

Laura Clapp grew up in New England. She’s brash, she’s honest and she’s happy to be here. Put these things together and you get an artist who thrives on love, excitement and a passion for life, and who is not afraid to tell it like it is. After moving to Nashville as a Berklee College of Music graduate in 2001, Clapp quickly befriended some of Music City’s best, and it wasn’t long before she was singing for a living. This led to countless demo sessions, a stint as a product specialist for Victoria-based TC-Helicon, and an incredible journey as backing vocalist for ‘80s synth legend, Howard Jones. Learn more at

She 3 tour dates, with more to be announced soon:

June 10 – Infinity Music Hall – Hartford, CT (Laura B. Whitmore & Laura Clapp only)
June 12 – The Burren – Somerville, MA
June 15 – Magnolia Loft – Jamaica Plain, MA
June 16 – Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY
June 17 – Online via Concert Window live from CT
June 18 – Webster, MA – Private event

To learn more, visit

Roland Corporation U.S. Now Hiring Product Strategy Manager


By Pauline France

Our friends at Roland Corporation U.S. are hiring for a Product Strategy Manager for the Boss and Roland guitar products division. Think you have the chops? Check out detailed information on the gig below.

Division: MI
Reports To: Vice President of Product Management

Summary Description

A Product Strategy Manager is responsible for sales results of a product group, particularly for BOSS and Roland guitar product groups. This includes the monitoring of sales numbers, communicating with R&D in Japan, traveling U.S. to understand the market trend, managing artist relations, developing and implementing sales and marketing strategies, directing public relations when appropriate and following through on all issues pertaining to their product group. The development of marketing/sales strategies includes programs and plans which stimulate interest, support, understanding, and sales of the product among the sales force, distributors, retailers, and consumers.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Product Strategy Managers develop long range growth and competitive strategies; work closely with R&D and marketing team in Japan to ensure the correct new products with features and price points to meet changing market needs and competition.
  • Responsible for the launching of new products, Product Strategy Managers develop strategic plans to introduce a product and then provide ongoing sales analysis to monitor and report sales results.
  • The Product Manager will gather and compile continuous information on all pertinent competitive products, target customers, and maintain a data base on such. This information will then be communicated to Management, DSM’s, retailers and Roland and BOSS Japan.
  • Responsible for the development and forecast of division operating/revenue forecast budget as well as working with Supply Chain Management division.
  • Responsible for setting up product information including competitive pricing while working with Operations Department to ensure correct information is available within system.
  • The Product Manager must have extensive in-depth knowledge of operating all Roland and BOSS products in their group and maintain this level of knowledge for all new products as they are introduced.
  • Act as product group point person as it relates to marketing issues (Web, Video, content, Advertising, etc.) including Artist Relation activities.
  • The Product Strategy Manager is required to spend reasonable time at Roland Artist Relation Office to maximize our brand and relationship with influential artists.
  • Duties include producing demos, demonstrating at trade shows, written materials, developing POP’s and reporting activities regularly to management.
  • Responsible for the education and testing of DSM’s on product. This also includes non-Roland personnel at regional trainings, etc.
  • Responsible for division products for trade shows, regional training and clinics.
  • Responsible for managing Product Specialists and/or Clinicians in within their division.

Key relationships

  • Network of key internal and external contacts to gather market information
  • Customer service: consumer and customer feedback
  • Supply Chain: planning, inventory, purchasing
  • Sales: internal: relationships with sales office heads; external: relationship with top dealers
  • Sales Ops: align performance to goals (inventory, sales, margin), Maintain product catalog
  • Maintain key MI media relationships
  • Sales, Customer Service, Distribution, PR: first line of communication, training, responsiveness (go-to person)
  • Mar-Coms: interacts and supports Mar-Coms Project Management for campaign development
  • Close interaction with European Product Managers

Employment Standards

Education/Experience: Bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or related field a plus, or related work experience. Successful product management experience with global products company 3+ years.
Skills: Strong communication, presentation and interpersonal skills. Excellent analytical and PC skills—Excel, Powerpoint, and Word.
Knowledge: Music appreciation—advanced musician/player/guitarist a plus. Especially extremely high level guitar and bass guitar, guitar effects and amplifier knowledge is required. Knowing BOSS products history is a plus. Experience working with Japanese culture helpful. Must have overall knowledge of successful product lifecycle and inventory management experience. Strong relationships within MI industry a plus.
Language Ability:
Ability to read, analyzes, and interprets general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations. Ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals. Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public.
Math Ability:
Ability to calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, interest, commissions, proportions and percentages. Ability to apply concepts of basic algebra.
Reasoning Ability:
Ability to define problems collects data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions. Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.
Work Environment:
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this job the employee is occasionally exposed to outside weather conditions.
The noise level in the environment is moderate.
Physical Qualifications

  • This position requires the ability to sit 70% of the day, walk 20% and stand 10%.
  • Must be able to occasionally lift and carry up to 40 pounds.
  • Must also be able to bend, push, pull, and reach forward and from side to side to access files and boxes full of product.
  • Some driving is involved to attend seminars.
  • Requires constant use of hands, arms, and wrist movement for PC work.
  • Requires the ability to write memos, and possess good spelling skills and/or the ability to use a dictionary.
  • Must be able to read and comprehend what is read.
  • Basic math skills are required.
  • Must have good eyesight for reading, writing and use of PC.
  • Must have good hearing and be able to speak clearly, for phone work and interaction with other employees, vendors and other outside callers.

This job specification should not be construed to imply that these requirements are the exclusive standards of the position. Incumbents will follow any other instructions, and perform any other related duties, as may be required by their supervisor.

This is an exempt salary position. Pay periods are bi-weekly. Company offers excellent salary, and benefit package will include medical, dental, vision, 401(k), and much more. If interested, please send resume with salary history to NO AGENCY PHONE CALLS, PLEASE.

Front and Center: Singer-songwriter and Pianist, Jenna Paone

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Singer-songwriter and Pianist, Jenna Paone

Hammers & Strings Album Cover Final

by Pauline France

L.A.-based singer-songwriter and pianist Jenna Paone is a familiar face to the Women’s International Music Network.

Originally from Boston, Paone first became involved with the WiMN through our Women’s Music Summit in 2012 in upstate New York, which she attended but confessed she didn’t really want to go. It took a few minutes at the event to realize attending was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

Paone released her debut album Hammers & Strings in 2014, and has since then graced the She Rocks Awards stage as an opening act, sharing a performance with renowned Alice Cooper guitarist, Nita Strauss. She’s also played at several She Rocks Showcases, and even co-written songs with WiMN Founder, Laura B. Whitmore.

In short, she is a force to be reckoned with (or as her parents endearingly call her, “a bulldozer”). Learn more about Paone in our interview below, and catch up with her online at

WiMN: When did you notice your interest in music?

JP: I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say that music was a part of my life since birth, but it really was. Music was a constant presence in my house – my parents are both music supporters and hobby musicians, and they exposed us to everything from Mozart to Pink Floyd.

My older brother played the piano from the time he was born, and as soon as I could reach the keys (and even before), I wanted to play just like him. Paone family legend has it that when I was four, I told my mother “I’m ready.” She asked “Ready for what?” and I said, “Ready to play piano.” According to my mom, I then sat down and played something like 10 songs that I had picked up just by listening to my brother during those years.

Growing up, though, I studied and played classical piano almost exclusively. I also studied classical ballet and theater, and ended up going to Syracuse University for musical theater. At that point, piano was a hobby for me, and while I wrote plays, poems, and short stories, it never really occurred to me write songs until right after graduated.

I moved to New York, started auditioning, and found myself alone in my apartment with a lot of time on my hands. I had brought an old keyboard with me and I started spending more and more time in front of it, working out melodies and lyrics. A few months later, I played some of these early songs for my family and friends, and, with their encouragement started performing at open mics. One thing led to another, and before I knew music turned into a profession.

WiMN: You sing, write songs, and play piano. Do you play any other instruments?

JP: Not well! Actually, growing up, I played the harp because my mother’s cousin was a professional harpist and I thought that was pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to play guitar, and my father is a fantastic guitarist, but it was only this year that I made it a goal to learn. In fact, I’m signing up for guitar lessons! I’m excited to learn a new instrument and looking forward to the impact that it will have on my songwriting.

WiMN: Tell us about how you first got involved with the Women’s International Music Network (the WIMN).

JP: The first time I heard about the WIMN was through an e-mail that my mother forwarded me advertising a female music and songwriting retreat in upstate New York called The Women’s Music Summit.

To be totally honest, I didn’t really want to go, but that summer was a particularly frustrating time in my career, and I felt like I needed something to remind me of why music is fun. And boy, did the Summit deliver!

I’m not usually an overly gushy person, but I honestly can’t say enough about how important that week was in resetting my mindset; it was magical. There were so many things that I learned about myself that changed my music and helped me redefine my goals. It was the catalyst into a whole new phase of my career as a writer and performer, and once I met this group of women, I knew I wanted to stick around.

Over time, I’ve gotten more and more involved in the WIMN, and I like to think I’m one of the family now! Founder Laura Whitmore has become a mentor, friend, and collaborator (we even co-write music together), and the organization has supported me in a million different ways.

Through the She Rocks Awards and showcases, I’ve been able to share the stage with powerhouse women like Orianthi, Nita Strauss, the Bangles, Colbie Caillat, Jennifer Batten, and so many more. I’ve gotten to share my music with new audiences, develop new partnerships, make friends, travel. It’s safe to say I’m a WIMN-er for life!

WiMN: You’re originally from Boston. What is the music scene like over there?

JP: It’s interesting. There’s a thriving indie arts community, and such a large number of skilled musicians and songwriters. You’ve got a constant influx of new talent, especially thanks to Berklee and the conservatories, and there are a good number of genuinely fun venues and listening rooms. The open mic scene is great – if you’re in town, make sure you stop by Tom Bianchi’s Open Mic Challenge at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. Overall, Boston is a small city, and a small, tight-knit world where everyone seems to be connected to and supportive of each other.

However, at the same time, the music community can sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the city, especially if you write and play original material. It’s surprising, given how cultured the population of Boston is, but I’m hopeful that that will change. I’m a Boston girl through and through (and a huge New England sports fan), and no one wants to see the city arts scene thrive more than me.

WiMN: You recently moved to L.A. What are your plans there to pursue music?

JP: The move to L.A. came at just the right time in my life. I had released my first full-length solo album, toured, and was ready for the next step. Now that I’m here, I’m working on new material for both myself and other artists. Above all else, I consider myself a songwriter, and I’m very much focused on building my song catalog and collaborating with other writers, producers, and musicians. I’ve also been performing solo, and look forward to putting together full band shows and touring more in the future.

WiMN: You released your debut album Hammers & Strings in 2014. Do you have an album in the works now?

JP: I’m recording new music currently. I plan to release some tracks in the very near future as singles, and yes, I have begun to write material for larger projects as well. Hammers & Strings was such a mammoth undertaking – it was a 15-track concept album that was, in essence, a musical novel. I love writing proper albums that flow and connect and have an underlying storyline, and a new one is definitely taking shape. In the meantime, I’m excited to share what I’ve been working on most recently.

WiMN: Have you faced any adversity for being a woman in music? If so, how did you approach the situation?

JP: Oh, absolutely. I’d be surprised if you could find a woman in music who hasn’t dealt with some sort of gender-specific adversity. I’m lucky to have grown up in a family where I was encouraged to be a strong woman and where I was able to develop self-confidence and mental toughness. I’ve never had trouble speaking my mind or standing up for myself (my parents call me “a bulldozer”), which is helpful when I find myself in less than ideal circumstances.

I do remember two specific instances of gender bias that happened very early in my career and had a lasting impact.

The first happened when my band at the time was in our first big studio session. I was the frontwoman, the primary songwriter, and the co-manager for this band, and the only female in the project. The producer, engineers, and staff were all men as well. During an editing session, one of the assistants leaned over to my guitarist, assuming he had written the song we were working on, and said “Nice song, man.” Of course, this was a song I had written, so I immediately corrected the assistant. “Actually, I wrote it.” I said, “But I’m glad you like it.

A few months later, a booking agent e-mailed me after a show to ask how I was able to bring such a large audience out to the venue because (his words) “Girls in bands never get good crowds.” I responded that I was a professional and therefore took every aspect of my job seriously, said that I was glad he was pleased with our performance, and decided to work with different booking agents in the future.

These experiences were eye-opening and yet completely unsurprising. I’m sure far worse things have happened to me since then, but I’ve found that whenever something like this happens, if I stand up for myself, I’m able to regain control of the situation. And I’m able to move on, without any regrets or bitterness.

WiMN: What advice would you give a young girl looking to pursue a career in music?

JP: Work hard, and develop concrete, technical skills. Skill and raw talent are two completely different things, and skill, which requires hours of practice, trial-and-error, and monotony to develop, is far more valuable in the long run. Skill leads to confidence, confidence leads to bravery and toughness, and you need all of those things in this industry.

Be professional, versatile, flexible, and pleasant. Take risks, make mistakes. Listen to everything you can, especially music written by women. Read books, have adventures, live your life. Support other women in the industry and realize that they are your lifeline, not your competition. And above all, remember that there are so many different ways to be successful in this business – it’s up to you to define your own.

Kaki King Launches New Series of Lesson Videos via

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According to, guitarist Kaki King has launched “Guitars & Things with Kaki King,” a new series of lesson videos, at In the videos, King answers questions, shows viewers how to play her songs and more.

“I get tons of emails and Facebook messages asking me how to play certain songs of mine, or generally asking questions about guitar technique and what not,” King said.

“I just thought it would be fun to make a series of videos everyone can have access to. Plus, I’m really looking forward to building a community around this series, which will include inviting fans to post their own cover versions of my songs, me covering other people’s songs, and even doing things like interviewing other artists and generally having fun. Plus, I just built myself a home studio, and I want to show it off!”

For more information, watch the video below and visit

Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls Ladies Rock Camp Los Angeles

Singer-songwriter, pianist and Women’s International Music Network ambassador Jenna Paona attended the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls Ladies Rock Camp in Los Angeles April 1 – 3, and wrote a wonderful recap on her experience and what you can expect if you attend. Note that the program is available in several states nationwide, so you don’t have to be in L.A. to attend!

By Jenna Paone


Campers performing the camp song “We Rock L.A.” at the showcase run-through. Credit: Beth Schore/Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

It’s school vacation week, so the classrooms at the Immaculate Conception School in Downtown L.A. should be quiet. Gone are the usual teachers and students, but in their absence, a group of women has taken up residence, filling the hallways with something louder and rowdier than even the most rambunctious fourth-graders: the unmistakable sound of rock and roll.

This collection of 30-odd women, most with little to no musical background, have come from the far corners of L.A. to channel their inner rock goddesses at Ladies Rock Camp. A sister program of the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles and the larger Girls Rock Camp Alliance, this intensive weekend is designed to give adult campers aged 18 and up a comprehensive rock star experience. Over the course of three packed days, the women learn to play instruments, form bands, write songs, and even perform their new original material live at a local club as part of the capstone showcase.

The campers come from a slew of different backgrounds. They are teachers, graphic designers, television executives; they are white and black and Indian and Asian; straight and not. It is an environment of shared acceptance and support, where all are encouraged to express themselves artistically. Their reasons for participating are as diverse as their stories: some have come to build confidence, some to learn a new skill, but all have come to rock out and have fun.

And it is fun, thanks to the tireless enthusiasm and creativity of the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls executive board and its veritable army of volunteers. Founders Mona Tavakoli and Becky Gebhardt, both of indie folk-rock band Raining Jane, have made it their mission to empower girls and women through musical education, and have had no trouble convincing others to join them.

There is nearly a one-to-one ratio of volunteers to campers, ensuring individualized attention during instrument instruction, band rehearsals, and enrichment workshops. The volunteers include Tavakoli and Gebhardt’s Raining Jane bandmates, local female musicians and music industry professionals, and even former campers.

Tavakoli jokes that the Rock Camp family expands exponentially with each new session. “I don’t want to overuse the word community,” she says, “but we nurture it, and it keeps growing,” she said.

Campers, too, keep coming back for more, including a mother-daughter trio who has participated for three years straight. The experience, mother Mimi explains, gives her a chance to let her hair down and connect with her daughters as a friend and peer. “This week,” she says, “I’m not ‘the mom.’ I’m just me.”

Mimi isn’t the only one to undergo a transformation over the course of the weekend. By the time the curtain opens on Sunday night’s showcase, there is a visible change in many of the women. Campers who seemed shy and timid on Friday leap across the stage wielding guitars and microphones. They dance and bang on drums and make a lot of big, loud noise. They have confidence, charisma, swagger.

It’s that transformation that is the real magic of Rock Camp. The world of music, and outside world in general, is still, as Betty Jean Newsome wrote and James Brown took credit for, a man’s world, but within this self-described “safe and brave space,” women take center stage.

Campers take a bow after their showcase at the Satellite. Credit: Kim Gouveia/Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

Campers take a bow after their showcase at the Satellite. Credit: Kim Gouveia/Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

Yes, by attending Rock Camp, a woman might learn to play the bass, but more importantly, she’s reminded that it’s ok for her to take risks and try new things, especially things that traditionally belong to the old boys’ club. She may write a song, but more importantly, she’s reminded that she has a voice, and every right to express that voice. She may get up on stage in front of a crowd and sing, but most important of all, she is reminded that she is courageous and powerful and capable of greatness.

That, of course, is what Tavakoli, Gebhardt, and the Rock Camp family intended all along. “Really, it’s ‘How-To-Be-Rad-At-Life-Camp,’” Tavakoli admits, smiling, “but music is our medium.”

Guitar Center Professional Appoints Jessica R. Sullivan As National Sales Manager


Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts, has appointed Jessica R. (Jess) Sullivan to the position of National Sales Manager. The announcement was made by Bradley Johnson, GC Pro Director, and reflects the division’s ongoing efforts to assemble the strongest leadership team possible. In her new position, Sullivan will be responsible for the overall management of the GC Pro Account Managers, developing/growing their overall sales figures through effective management of their clients’ needs. She will also form a working partnership with the Retail Store Managers, District Managers, and Regional Vice Presidents to ensure the success of each Account Manager.

Sullivan is a veteran in sales and marketing and the M.I./pro audio market sectors, having spent 14 years working with numerous manufacturers. She has particular expertise in B2B integrated sales, digital marketing and business development. Her previous positions include Online Marketing Manager at Line 6; Director of Advertising Sales for NewBay Media (Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, EQ); Director of Business Development for Premier Guitar; Director of Marketing at Musicians Institute; and more.

“It took me a while to find the right person for this position, and I’m glad I waited,” states Bradley Johnson.“ Jessica brings a wealth of knowledge in several areas within sales and the industry overall. Her can-do attitude, analytic mind and idea generation are just some of the masterful skills she brings to this position. I’m thrilled to have Jess be a part of the GC Pro team and look forward to her contributions in taking us to the next level as the professional choice for all AVL needs in the industry and the business verticals we serve.”

Sullivan remarks, “I’m excited to join the team at GC Professional and add to their existing foundation of being client-focused and serving multiple business verticals. Throughout my time in the industry, my motto has always been if I can fix things and help people, then I’m in the right place. I’ve been fortunate enough to live this motto throughout my career in this industry, from advising over 200 clients on what the right marketing strategy was for them, to tackling issues on improving student acquisition and experience. Now at GC Pro, I have the opportunity to work with over 50 Account Managers nationwide to take their abilities to the next level while implementing strategies to increase the customer experience. With these exciting initiatives in front of me, GC Pro offers me an opportunity to do what I do best, and for me, that makes it the right place.”

“We are extremely happy to have Jessica join our team,” adds Larry Gerber, Vice President of Services and Business Development at Guitar Center, Inc. “With her experience and aptitude we look forward to her leading our Guitar Center Professional division to new heights as we continue our quest to be the premier audio, video and lighting solution experience in the nation.”

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