Thursday, November 10, 2011

Music: WOMEN WHO ROCK Airing On PBS November 18


Friday, November 18, 2011 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS

Includes Performances, Interviews with Legendary Stars; presented by
WVIZ/PBS ideastream ® with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

(l.-r.) Darlene Love, Wanda Jackson and Cyndi Lauper are three of the musicians featured in WOMEN WHO ROCK. Photo courtesy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum inClevelandOhio.
PBS Press Tour, Los Angeles, CA, July 31, 2011 [Updated October 6, 2011] – The daunting odds, the guts and grit, and the talent required by women rockers to make it to the top of their field all come to life in PBS Arts from Cleveland: WOMEN WHO ROCK, a performance documentary that chronicles and celebrates female musicians from early groundbreakers to contemporary powerhouses. Premiering November 18 at 9:00 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings), WOMEN WHO ROCK is part of the first PBS Arts Fall Festival, a multiplatform event anchored by nine films that highlight artists and performances from around the country.

Mixing interviews with key women musicians and live performance footage, WOMEN WHO ROCK features the stories of trailblazers like Bessie Smith, Ma Raney, Mother Maybelle, and Mahalia Jackson as well as contemporary stars Darlene Love, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Bonnie Raitt, Cyndi Lauper, Wanda Jackson, Mavis Staples, Deborah Harry, and Kathleen Hanna of the bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre.  Also featured are songwriter Cynthia Weill and journalists/critics Ann Powers, Nelson George and Holly George Warren.

[It was announced October 6, 2011 that Cyndi Lauper, with nearly 30 years as a music icon and worldwide record sales of 30 million, will host the program. Lauper, who appears in the film, won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist for her first album She’s So Unusual, which spawned five top-ten singles.  She’s been nominated for more than 40 Grammy, Emmy, American Music, American Video and MTV awards. In June 2010, she released her 11th studio album, the Grammy nominated Memphis Blues, which sat atop the Billboard Blues Chart for 14 consecutive weeks. Lauper will release the DVD From Memphis with Love October 25th and her long-awaited autobiography in 2012 along with a new reality show. Lauper is completing work writing the music for the Broadway show "Kinky Boots," and continues her philanthropic work through her foundation, the True Colors Fund.] 

The program breaks the female influence on rock and roll into distinct eras, starting with the music’s blues roots in the 1920s and ‘30s.  It travels forward through time, telling stories of key musicians from each proceeding era, including rock and roll’s emergence in the 1950s, the girl group and counterculture era of the ‘60s, disco and punk in the ‘70s, celebrations of empowerment and fun throughout the ‘80s, into today’s predominance of women in pop, and much more.  The film reveals the ever-morphing role of female performers, and shows how today’s singers were influenced and inspired by their forebears.

The film is punctuated by photos and artifacts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.  (The Museum currently features a related exhibition, Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, which runs through February 2012.)  The film chronicles women in several music genres whose work not only brought down the house in their time but also broke down barriers, struggling to obtain artistic and economic equality with their male counterparts.
“What’s extraordinary about this film is the intimate and emotional connections it makes between female rockers -- through time and across styles,” says director Carol Stein who, with co-director Susan Wittenberg, helmed the film.  “The connections are both historical and literal,” she says.  “We bring these musicians together to talk about their personal journeys; moments like those between gospel singer/activist Mavis Staples and rock icon Cyndi Lauper, for example, are moving and illuminating.  We show a side of these performers and others that people have not previously seen.”

“‘Women Who Rock’ is emotional, passionate, and celebratory,” says Wittenberg.  “No matter whether you’ve dreamed of strapping on a guitar to riff through ‘Barracuda,’ or just danced unabashedly to ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ you know the power of female rock.” 

“The story of women in rock reflects larger changes in women’s status in our culture,” says Dr. Lauren Onkey, Vice President of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Although women have been essential to rock and roll – as performers, businesswomen, writers, fans – their role has often been downplayed or ignored.  Our exhibit, and this film, tell these stories, encourage discussions about them, and inspire young artists.  We are thrilled to partner with PBS on this documentary to further examine these dynamics and bring this groundbreaking exhibit to a larger audience.”

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the great cultural treasures of our community and a great partner in education and public service,” says Jerry Wareham, President and CEO of WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN ideastream.  “We are proud to be part of the premiere season of the PBS Arts Fall Festival and to work with PBS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on this exciting project. The program is a great opportunity to share the rich arts and cultural resources of Northeast Ohio with the nation.”

PBS member station WVIZ/PBS ideastream® produced the short documentary that will accompany the WOMEN WHO ROCK, titled “Artistic Choice.”  A short description: Most people recognize the power of art to enlighten and inspire individuals and even entire communities. But most of us don’t have a clue how to pay for it. In the early 20th  century, renowned institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra would “take Mrs. Rockefeller to lunch” — a metaphor for convincing wealthy patrons to write a check. These days, the wealthy patrons are long gone. This short film shows how Clevelanders not only moved to recognize the powerful resource of their cultural traditions, but also discovered an innovative way to keep them alive.

PBS Arts from Cleveland: WOMEN WHO ROCK is produced by Ace Pictures, in cooperation with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and WVIZ/PBS ideastream.

The rest of the PBS Arts Fall Festival schedule is below.  Full details at
·         PBS Arts from Minnesota: THE GUTHRIE THEATER PRESENTS H.M.S. PINAFORE, Oct. 14, 2011
·         PBS Arts from Seattle: AMERICAN MASTERS “Pearl Jam Twenty,” Oct. 21, 2011
·         PBS Arts from Miami: GREAT PERFORMANCES Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine & Tharp,” Oct. 28, 2011
·         PBS Arts from the Blue Ridge Mountains: GIVE ME THE BANJO, Nov. 4, 2011
·         PBS Arts from Chicago: AMERICAN MASTERS “Bill T. Jones: A Good Man,” Nov. 11, 2011
·         PBS Arts from Los Angeles: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Il Postino from LA Opera,” Nov. 25, 2011
·         PBS Arts from New York: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park,” Dec. 2, 2011
·         PBS Arts from San Francisco: GREAT PERFORMANCES “The Little Mermaid from San Francisco Ballet,” Dec. 16, 2011

As part of its commitment to increase every American’s access to – and participation in – the arts, PBS kicks off the multi-platform PBS Arts Fall Festival October 14th.  Anchored by broadcasts every Friday night into December and a range of related online content, the Fall Festival features artists and performances from nine communities across the country with celebrity hosts from each locale.  Comprising full-length performances, behind-the-scenes interviews, and artist and performer profiles, the PBS Arts Fall Festival is complemented by locally produced mini-documentaries that highlight related topics and cultural aspects of the country’s top arts cities.  

Ace Pictures, Inc., a production company that specializes in films about the arts.  Credits include “Pollock,” a film about the life of Jackson Pollock, “Midori and Friends,” and The Tiger Lillies Live in Concert in NY.” Ace's films have been broadcast on PBS, Ovation TV, AETN, and around the world.

ABOUT WVIZ/PBS ideastream ®
ideastream  is a public service, multiple-media organization with a mission to strengthen our communities by providing distinctive, thought-provoking programs and services that enlighten, inspire, education and entertain.  Based in Cleveland,Ohio, ideastream is generously funded by the citizens of Cuyahoga County through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.  It carries out this mission through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives, and its educational programs. The Museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

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