Women in Music: Girls I Rate #GetHeard

girls i rateDo you know that only 16% of songwriters and producers signed up to PRS for Music are women? Well, I didn't until I went to this event.

Girls I Rate is a non-for-profit organisation that is "championing women in the creative industries to work together." It's set up by Grammy-nominated songwriter Carla Marie Williams. The real deal, she's worked with Beyoncé, Naughty Boy, and Craig David, to name but a few. Her mission to integrate more women into the music industry and to harbour female talent in the process is supported by PRS, who host the event in their London building.

It's not an anti-male movement as some believe, Carla clarifies. She's used to being the only woman, and quite often the only person of colour in her workplace. Williams wants to change the music industry because there isn't a lack of talented women as some would suggest. True to point, the artists in the room have been shortlisted for this event, that had over 500 submissions pitching to attend. That probably has something to do with the fact that all the speakers are well-known industry professionals. The day is split into two industry panels with mixers. The first is the Urban/Pop Alternative panel featuring Lily Allen, and major record label A&R.

During this time, I am hastily pottering around a boiling hot London, in my faux fur coat trying to figure out how an Oyster card works and imagining a scenario where I'm so late from being lost that my entrance to the room is met with the unanimous assumption that I am a rude and ungrateful attendee. Since the first panel runs over (obviously overflowing with talent), I'm fortunately safely on time for the Grime/Hip-Hop/Rap panel. 

On the Girls I Rate stage is Radio 1Xtra's Manny Norte, Boy Better Know's Frisco, journalism's Hyperfrank and more seasoned industry professionals, sat with Carla and ready to teach us the next step. Part of me is distracted while they're setting up. I spot Karis from Stooshe wearing GIR merch and taking shots of the stage with a smartphone. I gush being stood next to her later and quickly tell her I love her work before she grins, and proceeds to interview me and a few others about our past few hours. It's a supportive atmosphere.

Throughout the panel, 20 odd women are individually summoned to the stage to have their tracks played. They receive feedback and advice, some even spit bars then and there. Artists are also offered a brief photoshoot and are pimped  "you just got heard."

Then the mixer begins and DJs such as Sian Anderson perform. The room becomes a hive of networking, juice is flowing - literally juice; it was a 16+ event - but an outsider could easily have thought different with everyone being so merry. It's such a good vibe already, but the true party begins when Ms Banks  bounds onto the stage. Shouts of 'yaaas' can be heard while the crowd blends into one mass of bouncing braids, locks, and generally amazing weaves. Briefly, I wonder how such a confident and fun performance could be followed. Yet on swags Kojo Funds, who I think I've never heard of until I realise I know the words and hustle my way back to the front. By surprise, Carla orders Frisco to join Kojo on stage and the crowd goes even wilder.

I leave London with new ideas, a couple dozen new artists to follow and a juice/travel-induced headache.

Find out more about Girls I Rate on their official website, and remember to keep spreading the word about the female artists you love. Every bit of support counts!


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