The She Rocks Awards celebrated seven years on Jan. 25, honoring some of the music industry’s leading ladies. The annual event was held at the House of Blues Anaheim, in the midst of The 2019 NAMM Show. Helmed by Laura B. Whitmore, founder of the Women's International Music Network (WiMN), this year recognized vanguards such as Terri Nunn of Berlin, Lisa Loeb, Nita Strauss, and Macy Gray.
The evening was hosted by Yahoo Entertainment music editor, Lyndsey Parker, and FOX 11 news anchor, Christine Devine. “When I first heard of the She Rocks Awards, I thought it was so cool to have women on the red carpet, emceeing, presenting, and in the house band. I think it’s a very special chapter of NAMM that really needs to be highlighted more,” Devine told AXS before the show.
Devine and Parker paved the way for REWS members, Shauna Tohill, and Collette Williams. “It’s all about turning the spotlight on fantastic women,” the rock-pop duo from London/Belfast said before they kicked off the evening’s performances. In their first She Rocks experience, the pair noted how the event reinforces the importance of female solidarity.
Jen Lilley was also on-site, marking her second She Rocks Awards show appearance. “We all love music, but women who can sing, produce and write their own music; they're powerhouses. I think that when we unite together, we can accomplish anything,” Lilley told AXS. The “Days of Our Lives” star recently premiered her single, “King of Hearts,” and is now preparing for the release of her new album.
Saxophonist Mindi Abair, who was there that night to perform, actually played on Lilley’s Christmas album. Abair followed REWS with a performance of “Pretty Good For A Girl,” leading into the first award of the night.
Samantha Pink, director of business operations at JAM industries USA, was handed the She Rocks Excellence Award. Erika Ender, award-winning and chart-topping composer, singer, and co-writer of “Despacito,” received the Dreaming Out Loud Award - which was followed by a performance of the hit song. Terri Winston, executive director, Women’s Audio Mission, earned this year’s Champion Award. And, Lynette Sage, art director of Reverb, was honored with the Innovator Award.
After that, Nick Bowcott stepped on stage to present Nita Strauss with the Inspire Award. Bowcott (from the band Grim Reaper) described how working with artists like Strauss, Lzzy Hale, and Lita Ford, have affected him. “People like Nita inspire,” Bowcott told AXS. “I’m really happy she’s getting the award. She deserves it. It’s not just about her playing; it’s how she’s playing it forward.”
Strauss, who’s known for Iron Maidens and her work with Alice Cooper, was thrilled to be honored at the annual She Rocks Awards. "I do a lot of guitar workshops, and the last few years, I've seen this amazing surge of young female guitar players. Not just teenagers, but young girls playing. If that’s any indication, the future is looking very bright,” Strauss said.
The guitarist was most excited to have her mom by her side for the evening. "She's the first woman to inspire me, and I'm getting an award for inspiring other people, so, it’s kind of like everything coming full circle,” she added.
Before receiving the recognition, Bowcott passed the torch to Steve Vai (Strauss' guitar hero) leading to an emotional handoff of the award. Strauss also gave an electrifying performance of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.”
Lisa Loeb later received the Spirit Award, which was given to her by friends/neighbors/collaborators Michelle Lewis and Shelly Peiken. Peiken, who penned strong female anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants” and “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks, was overjoyed for her friend. She spoke on how Loeb’s recent GRAMMY win felt like a victory for all of them.
Loeb is always happy to share the spotlight, just as she did that evening with the Command Sisters. The Canadian pop duo took the stage with the artist to sing her No. 1 song from the ‘90s, “Stay.” The pair, who just signed with Universal Music Group, is all about being bold and embracing who you are. It’s the same message Loeb embodies and continues to pass along to generations of women.
“This event inspires younger people. It inspires people of all ages actually," Loeb told AXS before the show. "There are a lot of people I know of all ages who need that extra message. They need that extra example to say ‘I can do that’ or ‘I didn’t know that was accessible to me’ and I think this is the kind of organization and event that does that.”
DJ Lisa Foxx also made an appearance to present the Icon Award to Terri Nunn. In celebration of Berlin’s 40th anniversary, Nunn performed their ‘80s smash hit, “The Metro,” accompanied by Berlin keyboardist, Dave Schulz. While songs like “Take My Breath Away” and “Sex” remain a part of so many people’s lives, Nunn admits that she doesn’t realize the impact that she has on people. “That’s probably why it’s so amazing,” she tells AXS. “Because this is what gives you the wake-up call that people are listening; and especially women, which is so wonderful, because so many of these women inspire me.”
The final honoree of the night was Janis Joplin, who was recognized with the first-ever Hall of Fame Award. Siblings Laura and Michael were there, with Laura accepting the accolade on her sister’s behalf. “I think it’s the joy people get from listening to her music," Laura said about the importance of Janis Joplin's legacy. "It seems to light something within them. I just love the fact that she’s getting people to have a good time.”
“Especially women,” her brother, Michael, added. “The power that she gave to her own gender, that’s still really strong.”
The evening culminated in a magnificent medley of Janis Joplin’s hit songs “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Raise Your Hand.” Performers included Orianthi, Vanessa Amorosi, Judith Hill, Emily Armstrong, Sarah Command, Mindi Abair and the evening’s house band, Rock Sugah.
Other honorees of the night were Dale Krevens, vice president of Tech 21; Dana DuFine, VP Global Content and development AEG Facilities; and Macy Gray. DuFine and Gray both could not be there. Laura Clapp stepped in for Gray, to deliver a performance of her hit, “I Try.” Janet Bill Rich (Manage This Media) and Bonnie Gallanter (co-producer of the She Rocks Awards and owner of Muse Artist Management), were also awarded special "surprise" recognitions by Laura B. Whitmore.
Artists in attendance such as Dianña, who is the first female to merge Latin and country music, are leading women of this industry into new territory. Gigi Rich (from ‘The Voice’) and vocalist, Aiza – who were there to sing a couple of songs from Girl, the Album – also came with their own message about the importance of female empowerment.
While the She Rocks Awards celebrates women whose skill, or knowledge, may be overshadowed in a male-dominated industry, and it gives them a platform for their talent to be honored, nobody there looked at being female as a challenge, or a hurdle to jump. The takeaway is that success is based on talent, dedication, passion, and love. Love for the music; and appreciation for each other. That’s what will propel us into the future.