THERE ARE some extraordinary women running Portland music right now. Not to brag, but from the queer vampire goth-punk of Mira Glitterhound’s band Sweeping Exits to the Last Artful, Dodgr’s self-described “retroterrestrial” hip-hop to the Chicana folk-pop of Luz Elena Mendoza’s long-running project Y La Bamba, our city’s kind of overflowing with talent.
Luckily, there’s a one-day festival dedicated to celebrating these artists’ invaluable contributions to Portland music: Girl Fest, founded by Madison Sturdevant as a 501c3 non-profit.
“Years back, I was writing for a couple of blogs in Portland and Seattle,” Sturdevant says, “and I became very frustrated with the ratio of male to female artists I saw getting their due attention in Portland, especially at shows. I wanted Girl Fest to become a platform to support and spotlight the creative, talented ladies I saw making noise in our region.”
This year is the third annual Girl Fest, hosted by 2016 alum and local R&B superstar Blossom. Sturdevant describes 2017 as a “turning point,” and is excited about the dynamic array of genres represented, from hip-hop to jazz to indie rock.
“After this year’s show we will have seen around 20 bands across our stage,” she says. “If we can just keep promoting more and more female artists and inspiring young artists, I’ll be happy.”
Here’s a sneak peak of Girl Fest’s 2017 lineup.
After being a standout emcee in the Portland Female Cypher on YouTube, Chicago-born Karma Rivera has gone on to earn fans at showcases like We Take Holocene, the Thesis, Mic Check, and Rontom’s Sunday Sessions. Now she headlines Girl Fest NW! With a succinct delivery and nasal voice, her tracks are usually on the chill side (see: “EverythingILove” and the recently released “Easy”), but she’s also become known for energizing crowds with relentless and rousing renditions of “Tacos & Tequila” and “Same BS.”
There’s something about Haley Heynderickx’s voice that simply can’t be put into words: It exists between flashes of thundering strength and flickers of astonishing wisdom. The singer/songwriter released one of last year’s most magnificent local EPs, Fish Eyes—four folksy tracks that are almost spooky in their raw humanity.
Singer/songwriter and drummer Coco Columbia is a bit of a unicorn—her music doesn’t quite fit into a genre box. While definitely dreamy, spacey, and synthy, her songs are laced with futurism and rhythmic stylings that somehow result in a fusion of indie-pop and jazz.
NEKA & KAHLO
The Portland hip-hop duo—and interracial lesbian couple—comprises singer/songwriter/producer Neka and fierce rapper Kahlo. After listening to vibey “Progress Trap,” and songs like “Alchemistress” and “Mayweather,” you’ll probably agree their work is some of the most original, high-quality music that’s come out of Portland in years. Last week they released the brand spankin’ new “btw,” off their forthcoming album Being & Becoming, and it really slaps. Their Girl Fest set is sure to slay.
According to her bio, “Grammys 2017” is written on Courtney Noe’s bathroom mirror in red lipstick. Last August, the self-described diva released her debut EP, Invisible Crown. Its five tracks sound inspired by the work of legendary early ’00s divas, namely the primal oomph of Christina Aguilera’s guttural voice and the radio-ready production of a Lady Gaga hit.
MY VOICE MUSIC
From Sturdevant: “For the past two years, the show has been opened by students from My Voice Music, an incredible non-profit here in town that teaches music and performance in order to promote self esteem, emotional expression, and social skills.”