Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus Artemis Singers, which formed in 1980, took on the Michigan Women's Music Festival ( MichFest ) with two performances at the Irish American Heritage Center Auditorium on Jan. 28-29.
The music festival was formed in a response to male-centered festivals. Female artists performed at the outdoor festival that ran annually in August; whether in song, storytelling or poetry, the gathering aimed at entertaining and empowering attendees. MichFest, as it was later called, adapted and changed over the years. This choral story covered the festival from 1978 to 2015, with an intermission in between.
The group is described as a feminist lesbian chorus composed of women with diverse backgrounds that are dedicated to performing music written or arranged by women. The chorus took turns switching between musical segments and short acting scenes that occur to two regular friends at the fest over the years named Linda, played by Joy Culver, and Sandy, played by Holly James. The two of them meet to catch up and chat about their relationships and the happenings at MichFest. Although these skits were fictional, the audience had an inside view of how the festival evolved through their interactions.
The chorus not only sang but participated in spoken-word sections. There was even a rap break about tearing down walls instead of building them. Topics such as the S&M community invading the festival and an awkward conversation about a mother's sexuality to her young daughter were covered in the acting portions of the show.
Audience members routinely raised their fists during the concert and, during an Amazon power song, many rose to their feet and danced in the aisles. In keeping with the spirit of MichFest, one exuberant person was even inclined to dance topless.
Visit ArtemisSingers.org for future productions.