The longest-running national women's music festival in the world will kick off Thursday, June 28, at the Marriott Madison West, with some of the most enduring performers in women's music, as well as a variety of new talents. This is the 37th National Women's Music Festival (NWMF) and marks the fifth year it has been held in or near Madison.
Musical headliners include folksinger and social justice activist Holly Near, classical/jazz pianist Mary Watkins, and rocker Toshi Reagon, along with a host of others, including comedians Julie Goldman and Dana Goldberg.
The NWMF also nurtures new performers with a talent competition held this year in three cities: Kansas City (MO), Chicago, and Madison. Winners of these competitions perform at the NWMF, and the most popular act returns for a main-stage performance at next year's NWMF. Last year's winner, Big Bad Gina of Fayetteville, AR, will perform on Saturday, June 30.
One of the Festival's highlights will be a special performance of "A Rainbow Path" by composer Kay Gardner (1940-2002), designed for meditation on the body's eight chakras, or energy centers. The classically trained Gardner conducted the first live performance of "A Rainbow Path" at the 1988 NWMF, and many of the musicians involved then will reprise their performance at the coming NWMF.
Local acts will include the all-woman big band, Ladies Must Swing, and jazz singer Lynette Margulies, accompanied by pianist Jane Reynolds. A total of 28 musical and comedy acts with over 50 individuals will perform at evening concerts on Thursday through Saturday and at two afternoon concerts on Friday and Saturday.
The NWMF is sponsored by a nonprofit organization, Women in the Arts, Inc. (WIA).
"This is one of the most exciting lineups we've had at the NWMF in recent years," said WIA board president Linda Wilson. "Musical performances will range from folk to rock to rap to classical, plus comedians, and daytime workshops on topics from performance to women's spirituality to writing."
"The NWMF brings together women from across the U.S. and even from other countries to celebrate women's creativity. While we welcome anyone who wants to attend, including men, the focus is on women's talents," Wilson added.
The Festival will run from June 28 to July 1 and will be held at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton. Information about ticket prices and more details about scheduled performers, workshops, and other Festival activities can be found at wiaonline.org/ .