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: Fanny’s House of Music Owners, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples
WiMN: How did the idea of opening a music store and school that celebrated and encouraged women come to be?
FHOM: While sitting in the drive-thru of a coffee shop, Pamela said, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a music store that was friendly to women musicians?” Then we looked at each other and said, “Maybe we’re the ones who are supposed to do that!”
We began researching, and the void was even more obvious. Three years later, Fanny’s House of Music opened its doors!
WiMN: Are you a musician? If so, what do you play?
FHOM: Yes, we both are. Pamela played bass, trombone and sang before working more in the business side. Leigh is an accomplished bassist and also plays piano and guitar.
WiMN: Can you share one of the biggest student success stories you’ve had at Fanny’s House of Music?
FHOM: The one that comes to mind was a young 12-year-old girl who looked like she was 18, tall and awkward. When she and her mother first came in to talk about lessons, she was quiet and didn’t make eye contact. Her mother shared with us privately that she had to pull her out of school because of being bullied.
She took bass lessons for two years, which led her to participate in Southern Girls Rock n Roll Camp. Her overall confidence – even the way she moved physically – had completely changed. She was empowered, healed. Soon she was attending classes at a music and arts high school, and her demeanor had changed to confident and boisterous!
Through making music and finding her tribe, she was a completely different person.
WiMN: Tell us about the origin of the name for your shop.
FHOM: We wanted a name that sounded powerful and southern. One of our favorite movies is Fried Green Tomatoes, which led us to the name Towanda. And then Pamela remembered one of the first all-female bands she’d ever heard was Fanny from the early ’70s. It just happened that Fannie Flagg wrote Fried Green Tomatoes, so we decided on Fanny’s!
WiMN: What do you think the industry could do to better embrace women?
1. Stop exploiting women in product advertisements
2. Promote women to sales and management positions … bringing them out of the traditional accounting and hostess roles.
3. Manufacturers and retailers can implement the training necessary for a company atmosphere of positivity and equality.
WiMN: Have you ever faced adversity in the music industry simply for being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?
FHOM: Of course, hence the reason for creating Fanny’s!
WiMN: What are some of the things people can experience at your store that can’t be experienced elsewhere?
FHOM: Being one of the few female-owned and operated music stores, you’re going to see women and men working together in all positions….sales, teaching (not just piano), repair. Hopefully you’ll feel an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. On Fanny’s walls you’ll find photos of women actually playing instruments. And of course there’s vintage clothing.
WiMN: Do you have advice for young women who might be considering a career in the music industry?
FHOM: The same for all businesses/industries… Plow through the fear. Be confident of your abilities, stay true to yourself and work with integrity.
WiMN: What does it mean to you to receive a She Rocks Award?
FHOM: It’s a bit surreal, given we’re just a small store in Nashville, but if it gives exposure to the mission of empowerment, that’s a great thing! It is an honor to be included with other women that are doing such good work.
WiMN: What one piece of advice would you give to young aspiring female musicians looking to make it big in the music business?
FHOM: Do it because you love it, it’s very hard work. And if you just want to be rich and famous…buy a lottery ticket, it’s the same odds.