It is not easy being a woman in the music industry. Continuous research has proven that the music industry still is male dominated. Women are still underrepresented in many roles and careers available in the industry as well as in the various genres of music. A study in 2019 revealed 21.7 per cent were artists, 12.3 per cent songwriters; and 2.1 per cent are producers.
The top challenges for women are sexual harassment and objectification, ageism, looks, and sexism, and, most recently, the pandemic. These challenges and the above data should be the reasons why women should push for their place in the music industry. While women performers in the Haliburton Highlands face similar challenges we are blessed with some great female artists including Karen Frybort, Irene Merritt, Jerelyn Craden, Trina West, Laurel McCauley, Jocelyn Regina, Lauren McInnis, Melissa Stephens, Lauren Margison, Jodi Timgren, Kate Hall, Kim Quigley, Linda Love, Bethany Houghton, Sue Shikaze, Cathy Salvatori, Holler, Ro Randall, Shannon Neville, Shout Sisters and all those performing in orchestra and choirs (apologies to anyone missed).
To celebrate women in music, the Haliburton County Folk Society is pleased to present two very talented women with local connections – Cassidy Taylor, who was raised in Haliburton, and Jess Knights who has recently taken up residence after spending many of her summers at a family cottage on Lake Kashagawigamog.
When Cassidy and Jess were asked about challenges and opportunities they have had in their development as a performer they responded with optimism. Cassidy said, “Being a performer the past few years has been tough. Though, I’m finding some excitement in being able to start fresh. During the pandemic, my producer and I were able to create an entirely new live show from the ground up with all new songs. We’re trying a lot of new things and I’m thrilled to be playing a lot of unreleased material at the next show on March 19.”
Jess said, “Being a performer is full of growth and challenges, but I think that’s what keeps my interest. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as an artist is crippling self-doubt. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and share your art. Overcoming the little voice that says, ‘Don’t do it. You’re not good enough’ is a constant practice, but this is also where I get my strength to continue. It’s incredibly empowering when I don’t let self-doubt get the best of me and I step out on stage to do what I love. I’m an artist, yes, but at the end of the day, I’m a human being with all the complexities that come with that. I guess the biggest difference is I’ve chosen to be in a career where I air out my dirty laundry, with four chords and a beat.”
Being part of the Haliburton Highlands community is important to Jess and Cassidy. For Jess “it’s been a wonderful experience to be welcomed into the Haliburton community. I’m a long way from “home” but music has been my welcome mat wherever I go. To be welcomed by the local music community has helped ease the transition. I look forward to performing more in the area and getting to know some of the music lovers here. “
Cassidy makes the point that “Haliburton’s local music community was where my passion for music and performing started. Without it, I would never have gotten the opportunities I was given growing up. I feel so lucky to have been able to perform around Haliburton at such a young age. I remember my first performance, outside of school talent shows, was a private party hosted by a good friend of mine and the support I received was overwhelming. This was really encouraging as a young girl to keep pursuing music in my adulthood.”
Come and hear for yourself the heart and soul of these two talented artists. They will be performing as a double-bill at the Women of Song concert on March 19, 7:30 pm at the Royal Canadian Legion in Haliburton.Tickets are available at www.haliburtonfolk.com.
Submitted by Barrie Martin
Note: This is the monthly submission from the Haliburton County Folk Society for County Life, but due to publishing timeline is being printed here.