12 March 2013

Last night, I went to see Orianthi at the Grammy Museum. She’s an amazing blues and rock guitarist, who’s best known for being hand picked by Michael Jackson for his “This Is It” tour. Of course, we all know how that story ended, but she spent three months in rehearsals with him and she had great stories about him, as well as about her other mentors, including Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, and Alice Cooper, with whom she now tours.  

Orianthi  talked about how she dropped out of school at 15 to pursue her dream, but also because she was getting bullied. While some kids thought it was cool that she played guitar, boys who she was competing against weren’t very supportive. 

I interviewed her this morning and we were talking about how few female guitarists there are. To be sure, there’s Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Batten (who also played with Jackson), and many more, but there aren’t enough. 

Over the last few years, there have been some cool companies that have  tried to encourage more girls to pick up guitars. Tish Ciravolo founded Daisy Rock Girl Guitars in 2000. The company specializes in guitars for young girls that have narrower necks and lighter weight bodies. There are plenty of people who feel that girls need their own brand of guitars even less than they need their own brand of razors or, my favorite, Bic Pens for Her (yes, it’s a real thing)... but I say anything that gets a guitar into a girl’s hand is a good thing.  

It's Chooseday Tuesday, which means I pick a charity that one of you has suggested and make the donation in your name. My friend Kelly told me about Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, which teaches girls to play instruments and overall music education.  As RCGLA says on its website, “RCGLA strives to nurture self esteem and self expression in girls in a world that doesn’t always give girls permission, space, or the tools to do so.” 

There are two week-long summer camp sessions for girls 8-17. The girls form a band, write songs and perform the tunes at an evening showcase.  In addition to the musical skills, the girls can take other workshops at camp, such as self-defense, ‘zine production, and screen printing. Guest artists come in to perform and interact with the students.  Girls can choose from guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals, and DJ’ing. 

I so wish there had been something around like this when I was a kid. I bet Orianthi does too. 

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