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Published: Friday, 5/14/2004

Female musicians reach out, issue CD

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Group leaders Romona Collins, left, and Doreen Robideaux. Group leaders Romona Collins, left, and Doreen Robideaux.
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Toledo's women musicians finally have an official voice, a big soulful one steeped in the blues, jazz, rock, and folk, and informed by decades of experience on the stages of local clubs.

The Coalition for Women in Music, a nonprofit organization in its first year of existence, is holding a CD release party this weekend at the Happy Badger Trading Portal. The group's first compilation - "Volume 1" - will be featured from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. The free event will include performances by many of the nine featured artists.

The group's leaders - Doreen Robideaux, a blues artist, and Ramona Collins, a jazz singer - said the event is designed to spread the coalition's message, which is a mix of empowerment, education, and good will.

"We're small but mighty at this point, so this will help people see what we do," Collins said.

The group's agenda includes hosting a music festival, promoting educational programs - including an effort to bring used instruments to inner-city children - creating a newsletter that focuses on local music, and raising money for a battered women's shelter. A key component of the effort will be to mentor young female musicians and help them navigate the local club scene while maintaining their creative values.

"I've been around for 35 years and I get a lot of support, but it's very hard because there are times when things are so stagnant," Collins, a past president of the Toledo Jazz Society, said. "And the times we live in now it's all about being young and beautiful and a size 5 and none of us look like that, haven't for years."

Robideaux, who is a Blues in the School coordinator through the Black Swamp Blues Society, said the message is important in an age when female pop singers are marketed more as sex symbols than musicians.

"We think it's very important for young women to realize their talent comes first and your success doesn't depend on the Barbie-doll look," she said.

The next step for the coalition is to raise money from the CD, which will sell for $15, to pay their production bills and begin instituting the programs. "Our priority was to get this thing done as quickly as possible, get it on the street, and get some awareness happening so we can get some programs going," Robideaux said.

The CD features 17 songs by Toledo musicians Robideaux, Collins, Sarah Cohen, Laurie Swyers, Jean Holden, Crystal, Liz Presley-Hazard, Jill Sedluk, and Theresa Harris, spanning styles from rock to blues, jazz and folk. It will be sold at local music stores, including the Happy Badger, 1855 South Reynolds Rd.

Collins said the coalition - which welcomes men as members - hopes to create a lasting legacy for young artists. "You have to support your local artists because they keep your local music scene alive," she said.

Robideaux agreed. "Sometimes you don't get much appreciation for the work you put into your music and you're taken for granted," she said. "I would like for the next generation of musicians in this town get the attention they deserve."

The Coalition for Women in Music's CD release party for "Volume 1" takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Happy Badger Trading Portal, 1855 South Reynolds Rd. A number of artists featured on the disc will perform at the free event. Information: 419-536-7699, 419-297-9856, or 419-389-0021.

Contact Rod Lockwood at:

rlockwood@theblade.com

or 419-724-6085.



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