Outside of Portland's reasonably gender-inclusive music scene, women in music are either a novelty or just few and far between. Simply open any mainstream music publication and compare the coverage of female performers to their male counterparts.
Siren Nation organizer Natalia Kay agrees. "I think there is something threatening about women creating art, or they wouldn't be so marginalized." In the fight to shatter the glass ceiling, Siren Nation's hope is to create an artistic nation where gender roles and sex do not inhibit opportunities for visibility and success.
Siren Nation was the brainchild of Kay and Tamara J. Brown, who had previously worked together promoting events geared towards the queer women's community. This complex new venture would require support from a team of organizers including December Carson, whom Natalia met while working as a booking agent for the Siren Music Company. Since its humble beginnings, Siren Nation has grown into an esteemed nonprofit organization with year-round support of creative exhibitions made by women musicians, artists, and filmmakers.
Musically, Siren Nation is the answer to those who think Lilith Fair-esque women's music festivals are a big yawn. Following in the footsteps of the revolutionary Ladyfest, Siren Nation's organizers are dedicated to recognizing a diverse selection of lady-made music on an independent scale.
"We knew we wanted Siren Nation to include all works of art by women including all genres," says Carson. She goes on to suggest Siren Nation's curators are "continually pushing to expand our views of what art is." That goal has been demonstrated in this year's music roster, which includes a variety of genres: folk, hiphop, jazz, rock, pop, and more.
Following Thursday's opening night soirée, the first night of this year's stellar music lineup includes East Coast hiphop mouth-offs Northern State, the lusty soul-cryin' mama Tahoe Jackson, the electro pulse of the Trucks, the frazzled post-punk of the New Bloods, and the lucid dream ballads of Lisa Papineau. On Saturday evening one can expect the grim howls of Scout Niblett, local indie-folk songstress Laura Gibson, the intoxicating and sullen waltz of Felina's Arrow, indie-pop darling Laura Veirs, and the eclectic gypsy-folk storyteller Amelia.