MisFest showcases female musicians in Oklahoma
TNE Editor

MisFest showcases female musicians in Oklahoma

Published 4/24/17

Kelsey Baucom

TNE Writer

Even today in the music scene, it is still a “thing” to have a female drummer or lead guitarist. It is still a “thing” to have a band comprised of all women. It is even a “thing” to see women be successful in the music industry in any capacity. This is not to say that there are no thriving female musicians or tour managers or sound engineers, but it brings up the question of why it is worth mentioning that someone is successful while also happening to be a woman. This line of thinking is exactly what inspired Amira Al-Jiboori and Casii Stephan to create MisFest.

MisFest – Music Is She and She Is Music – is an all-female music festival happening in Tulsa on May 13 featuring artists exclusively from Oklahoma. Stephan and Al-Jiboori play in a band named Casii Stephan and the Midnight Sun, and they know firsthand that there is no small amount of talent in Oklahoma.

“I met Casii at church and we started playing music together a little over a year ago,” said Al-Jiboori. “It has really snowballed in a good way. We played the Tulsa showcase at South By Southwest this year, which is pretty huge. Amidst us being on the scene here in Tulsa, we noticed a great amount of female talent, and we wanted to figure out a way to showcase it.”

All of the acts playing MisFest will be female-led, but that might be the only thing they have in common. When choosing artists to perform, Al-Jiboori and Stephan wanted to include a wide variety of styles to showcase different talents.

“They’re people we knew and heard of, and when we saw some of them live we were incredibly impressed,” said Stephan. “There’s no specific genre either. We’ve got funk, rock, blues, pop-soul, bluegrass and folk, punk and singer-songwriter. Across the board, and purposefully, it’s very diverse.”

Putting a spotlight on other local artists is important, but the reason that MisFest focuses specifically on female musicians is to, as their website states, “provide a platform to empower women to succeed in the music industry and to build a community of females in the music business by collaborating together and showcasing our talents in areas such as songwriting, performing, instrumentation, music production and sound engineering.”

One band that will perform at MisFest is Annie Oakley, an OKC-based Americana band. Grace Babb, one of the two sisters in the band, said that the vision of MisFest interested them immediately.

“The female empowerment that MisFest promotes made me want to be a part of it as soon as I learned of its existence,” said Babb.  “Success and empowerment go hand in hand, and I'm so here for that message being taught to and uplifted in women.”

Sophia Babb, her sister and fellow bandmate, also sees the purpose behind MisFest and understands how this issue can affect the bigger picture.

“Beyond the lack of women performers on major festival lineups, there's an even larger lack of women working in the music industry itself,” said Babb. “There seems to be a total lack of women producers, women who run sound, women who own record labels, radio hosts, women who promote bands and women booking tours. The consequence of this is an underrepresentation of women on the business side, leaving women performers climbing a ladder that's owned by men. Spaces like MisFest encourage a breakage from the normal gender barriers.”

Another key aspect of MisFest is that all of the proceeds of the event will go toward two different nonprofit organizations in Tulsa: River Parks and YWCA. River Parks is an organization that takes care of all the parks systems along the river and Turkey Mountain. YWCA strives for social justice as they help women in various stages in life. It also aims to expose and eliminate racism. Benefitting nonprofits is not the norm for music festivals, which is also what makes MisFest different.

“This is the first time there has ever been a female-led music festival in Tulsa,” said Al-Jiboori. “It’s really kind of a historical thing. And not to mention it’s all not for profit, which is exciting to know that when you and your friends buy these tickets, it’s going back to River Parks and YWCA.”

For those who are especially interested in this topic, there will be a brunch the morning of the festival, where four singer-songwriters will share songs and stories and open a discussion about what it is like to be a woman in the music industry. The brunch ticket includes food and drinks, as well as admittance to the show later in the day.

“There’s not going to be just singing, but also telling stories and having a topic surrounding women in music,” said Al-Jiboori “The YWCA is going to be the main moderator of that and make it more of a conversation rather than just a performance.”

Volunteers are needed for the festival as well. Volunteers can sign up online and even choose a certain time block that is most convenient. There are multiple different areas where they will need extra hands, but if there is something specific a volunteer would like to do, it can be included in the comments section when signing up. Volunteers get into the festival at no charge and receive a free MisFest T-shirt.

MisFest is being brought to life by some very passionate, driven women who had a vision and decided to just go for it. It is an exciting event for Tulsa and all of Oklahoma, and plans are already in the works to keep the festival going through the years.

MisFest is Saturday, May 13 at River West Festival Park in Tulsa. Tickets can be bought at two Tulsa locations: Fair Fellow Coffee and Ida Red, or E-tickets can be purchased online at misfest.com.

For information concerning the festival, including volunteer sign up, FAQs, complete lineup and contact information, visit misfest.com.

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