A Popular History of Women’s Music and Culture
When journalist Connie Kuhns approached Vancouver Cooperative Radio in 1981 to host a music program dedicated solely to playing music by women, there was some doubt at the station that there was enough music by women to fill half an hour—and besides, who would tune in?
Such was the underground nature of women’s music. Despite the doubters, Rubymusic Radio became a successful program, running for fifteen years, introducing listeners to countless artists through radio, magazines and newspaper columns and on stage at Vancouver’s annual Folk Music Fest, and serving as a powerful platform for the feminist movements taking place in Vancouver’s punk scene and throughout music history in the 80s and 90s. Rubymusic also served as the launching pad for Kuhns’ life-long passion—the preservation of the histories and stories of the women with whom she crossed paths on the airwaves.
Here is a time capsule of a pivotal moment in women’s music history, with special emphasis on the women’s music movement in Canada, including the only written history of the women involved in Vancouver’s punk rock scene. Rubymusic also includes over two dozen first-person interviews going back into the early 1980s, featuring a diverse group of women, including Ferron, Etta James, Roni Gilbert, Lillian Allen, Koko Taylor, Gloria Steinem, kd lang, Michelle Shocked, Amy Grant, Ellen McIlwaine, as well as essays on Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and why Yoko Ono matters. Rubymusic: A Popular History of Women’s Music and Culture is a necessary reflection on fifteen years of radio history and forty years in music journalism that contains unparalleled stories of women who fought for the right to be heard.