“We Got the Beat” is the name coined by co-producers Holly George-Warren and Lizzie Vann of the Women in Music summit hosted in Woodstock, New York.
In the first annual gathering, the three day long event brought together creatives and music lovers alike, as they took part in concerts, panels, screenings and conversation. The event featured music industry leaders, award-winning performers, DJs, photographers, filmmakers and music journalists.
The website regards the event as, “an immersive weekend covering every aspect of the contributions made by women to the world of music.”
Besides being an adjunct professor in the Department of Digital Media and Journalism, Holly George-Warren has seen great success throughout her career. She is the award-winning author of 16 books, this includes her best-seller, “Janis: Her Life and Music.” She has served as the director of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s oral history program, she is the former director of Rolling Stone Press and has received two Grammy nominations.
George-Warren used her extensive list of contacts to bring over 20 women to the multitude of panels occurring throughout the summit. “It was really important to me to have a diverse group of people that were at different stages of their careers” explained George-Warren. “I wanted the panels to have legacy participants who have been doing this since, say the 70s or even the 60s, and then I wanted to have some younger people that are just now doing it and then others in the middle.”
“I wanted to be able to completely engage a wide range audience made up of different people, different age groups, different people at different levels of their career, and people just starting out like, college students who have all these great ideas and all this energy, who are thinking about what they are going to do and to be inspired by women who’ve been doing this.”
The event was held at Bearsville Theater, a venue owned by the summits co-producer Lizzie Vann, MBE. Vann is an entrepreneur, whose career began in the field of sustainable food, sustainable building and entertainment. She is a campaigner and champion of women’s rights.
On the events’ website, strong infographics and statistics are used to spread their mission statement. They point out that 21% of Grammy awards are given to women, 3% of record producers are women and 13% of songwriter credits go to women. These numbers help emphasize the importance of the summit. “Women in the US music industry are disadvantaged on every count — the pay gap, agesism, sexual harassment, and career opportunities,” reads their mission statement. “Our annual summit exists to combat this. We offer women a strong foundation for networking and professional growth.”
Fighting against this blatant sexism, George-Warren made sure to include women who worked behind the scenes in the music industry and went unrecognized for their achievements. One of these women was Julie Last, a producer, recording engineer, singer/songwriter and studio owner who worked on John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Double Fantasy” album as an engineer. “There’s not that many women in the recording studio engineering as there are, you know, the dudes, right?” said George-Warren. “So I wanted to have a lot of people that we don’t even know about how incredible their career has been because they’re behind the scenes.”
The weekend was proven a success with an influx of positive feedback pouring in. One summit goer’s 16-year old daughter and best friend came in from Beacon, they were incredibly excited to meet Last, and left feeling inspired to pursue their dreams in the music industry.
Kate Pierson of the B-52s heard five-time Grammy-winning guitarist Cindy Cashdollar steel guitar during the “Staking Our Claim — with an Axe’’ panel and according to George-Warren, the two are now talking about doing a project together.
“It’s really hard starting something new there’s a lot of flying parts and you know you make mistakes and you want to do better so we’ve definitely reached out to everyone like how can we make it better,” said George-Warren. “What did you observe? Give us some of your feedback. We want it to continue to grow.”
Lizzie Vann has already committed The Bearsville Complex to hosting the second annual “We Got the Beat” Women in Music summit for March 24 — 26 of 2023.