In the years of the 1960’s and 1970’s, there were not a lot of positive women role models within the music industry that women who strongly believed in feminism could look to. At that time, it was very difficult for women to break into the music business and there were only a small number of independent women who were able to do so. Because there seemed to be a roadblock, women united together and created a place for themselves. Feminist groups joined together with lesbian groups to begin bring women’s music to the world. They needed to begin small, hoping that their creation would spread and become popular.
One of the first popular songs that were included into the genre of women’s music was by Maxine Feldman, a lesbian who sang about her experiences and feelings in a song called Angry Atthis in a 1972 recording. One year later, a music group by the name of Lavender Jane recorded an album, lavender Jane Loves Women and this genre was beginning to get noticed.
In 1973, an all women’s band emerged, the Chicago Liberation Rock Band and their song of Mountain Movin’ Day was very popular among women’s rights groups. Apparently the first notion of creating a genre of women’s music was catching on. Women’s rights group had an uphill battle regarding these first songs, as they were not able to have standard backing, promotions or a solid record label. The albums were sold via postal mail order and a scattering of lesbian/feminist stores. Their advertising was done simply by word of mouth.
Because of the need for wider recognition, Olivia Records was created; it was the first women’s record label. From this label came musician Cris Williamson and her popular album The Changer and the Changed shot to be the best selling album that was every produced by an independent label.
The 1970’s found other women’s labels being created, to follow suit with Olivia records and this greatly helped women’s music go into the mainstream. There was inevitably an increased demand for women’s music and that led to the creation of Ladyslipper. Ladyslipper is a non-profit organization that was created in the year 1976 to promote and also distribute women’s music.
The very first womens music festival was put together in 1973 and was held at Sacramento State University. For the next three years, other women’s festivals were held, the Michigan Womens Music Festival being one of the largest and most popular.
Womens music festivals are still held to this day and although they focus on womens music, they also serve as education, awareness and support events regarding lesbian and feminist issues in today’s society.