2000 Quilt: Sisters in Song

Wisconsin Women Library Workers

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Designer and Assembler: Christie Brokish
Quilt Coordinators: Kathy Rohde and Mary Knapp
Descriptions of quilt squares

diagram of Sisters in Song quilt

*1. Mother's Lullabies by Sue Searing

*2. Judy Roberts by Kathleen Weibel

The incomparable Judy Roberts is a jazz pianist and vocalist. You can sample her work on her web site http://www.judyroberts.com where you can also order CDs. Judy grew up, and still lives, and plays, in Chicago. You can hear her at the Intercontinental Hotel and other Chicago venues. She also travels and performs around the world. In the 70s when I first lived in Chicago I used to go hear her perform on Lincoln Avenue. Being able to hear her now connects elements of my life and gives me great pleasure. She's really a fantastic artist. I admire her talent and her perseverance. If you are in Chicago give yourself a treat and go hear her. Give me a call and I'll go with you. Sit near her piano. Request a song but remember "no Neil Diamond and no Andrew Lloyd Weber."

*3. Margaret Rosezarian Harris by Julie Ann Chase

Margaret Rosezarian Harris, an extremely eclectic musician, began her career by playing her first recital in the Cary Temple Auditorium in her native Chicago at age 3. She died March 7, 2000 at the age of 56. Her career encompassed a broad spectrum of musical styles, ranging from serving as the music director of the Broadway rock musical, Hair, to being the first black female conductor of major orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and composing and performing classical works for piano.

*4. Hildegard of Bingen (1098 to 1179) by Shannon Lang

Hildegard of Bingen was a composer, abbess, mystic, and writer, noted for her lyrical poetry and devotional songs. Hildegard was one of the most prolific composers of her time and is credited with being the first to write chants for women's voices. She writes"Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silence, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God."

*5. Not an Angry Girl by Heather McCullough

*6. Ella Jenkins by Christine Jenkins

Ella Jenkins has been described as "not just a folksinger, but a national treasure." She was born in 1924 in St. Louis, but she is most closely associated with Chicago, where she has lived and worked as a composer, musician, and performer for most of her life. Jenkins' music is drawn from musical traditions that include Mississippi Delta blues, gospel, and folk. From the beginning of her professional career as a folksinger in 1956, children have been and continue to be her primary audience. As one critic wrote, "Her songs convey ideas of unity and cooperation in a manner accessible to preschool, kindergarten, and primary school children." She has written and played for young audiences for well over forty years, and Smithsonian Folkways released her 30th album in 1999. Her work as a teacher educator has included her well-known Adventures in Rhythm workshops for music teachers and she has appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Barney and Friends.

*7. Bonnie Raitt by Kathy Rohde

Fender Guitar has honored Bonnie Raitt by promoting the Bonnie Raitt Signature Series Stratocaster guitar -- the first female guitar player to receive this honor. In turn, Bonnie has designated all royalties from the guitar sales to help fund The Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project, a charity program which bean in 1996 designed to encourage inner city girls to play the guitar. Through charity organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Fender provides the instruments and works with its dealer network to provide lessons and support for this project. Bonnie says, "we hope to offer access to music for people who otherwise wouldn't have access to it."

*8. "There's Something About the Women" by Phyllis Davis

"THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE WOMEN" by Ursula Roma is featured on this square to represent and celebrate women's choruses and the women's choral movement. Many feminist choruses started in the 1970s and 1980s are still going strong, including Womonsong in Madison, which celebrated "20 years of singing together" at their spring concert in 1999 and Artemis Singers of Chicago, with a 20th anniversary concert in October 2000. Women's choruses are diverse and sing a varied repertoire, much of it from different cultures. Many are part of a loosely organized group called the Sister Singers Network, where women of many colors, ages, and lifestyles come together in harmony. The Sister Singers concert planned for Memorial Day weekend, 2001, will be held in Grand Rapids, MI with performances by a variety of women's choruses. There is an active Internet list, choruswomen, which allows members of women's choruses to freely discuss chorus-related topics. The women's choral movement joyfully brings feminist and progressive music not often heard through commercial channels into our communities.

*9. Malvina Reynolds by Barb Sanford

Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) was born of Jewish socialist immigrant parents in San Francisco. Because her parents opposed US participation in WWI, her high school refused to give her a diploma. Nevertheless, she went on to receive her BA, MA and Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley. She married a labor organizer, took on social causes, and had one child, Nancy (Schimmel). Because of her leftist political activism, she was blacklisted and had difficulty getting employment. While writing political songs, she worked as a tailor, social worker, teacher and steelworker. Malvina wrote more than 500 songs and enjoyed a successful career as a performer, both in the US and abroad. She gained recognition as a songwriter when Harry Belafonte sang her song, "Turn Around." Several of her songs were popular hits, including Joan Baez's recording of "What Have They Done to the Rain?" in 1962 and Pete Seeger's recording of "Little Boxes" in 1963. "Little Boxes," supposedly inspired by the sprawl of Daly City, California, criticized conformity, consumerism and political indifference, as symbolized by the "ticky tacky houses" in the spreading suburbs. It was especially well-liked by college students and others who had grown up in the "ticky tacky houses" and who wanted to demonstrate that they had not "come out all the same."

*10. Patsy Cline (1932-1963) by Cheryl Becker

Patsy Cline was born Ginny Hensley on September 8, 1932. She never learned to read music but taught herself to play piano by ear. At age 13 she developed a throat infection after a serious case of rheumatic fever. When she recovered she "had this booming voice like Kate Smith's." Her first manager encouraged her to change her name to Patsy, and her last name Cline came from her first husband. She began recording in the mid-50s. Her songs include "Walkin' After Midnight," "I Fall to Pieces," "Crazy," "She's Got You," "Leavin' On Your Mind," and "Sweet Dreams," to name just a few. Patsy and four other Grand Ole Opry stars were killed in a plane crash on March 5, 1963, after attending a benefit concert in Kansas City. Although her recording career lasted only eight years, Patsy changed the course of country music, blazing a trail for countless female artists, from Dottie West to Shania Twain. In 1973, she was elected into the County Music Hall of Fame, the first female solo artist to be so honored. My square is a "crazy quilt" representing Cline's hit "Crazy," my personal favorite.

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Last update: January 26, 2001
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