#1398: Women In Music

May 5, 2016

On this week’s 51%, we look at women in music — from a young musician praised for her lyrics, vocals and willingness to experiment to a veteran country star who’s taking it on the road. Plus we hear from a woman who plays the drums in a Republic where it’s men who usually pick up the sticks. 

51%’s Ian Pickus introduces us to a woman who began writing songs at the age of 14, performing her first original piece at a high school composition concert in her hometown of Darien, Connecticut in 2007. 51%’s Ian Pickus speaks with musician Sarah McGowan. Her debut album is “For Whom They Sing.”  

We transition from a relatively new musician on the scene to a veteran. Dolly Parton, one of country music’s all-time superstars, is launching her first major tour in more than 25 years. The first leg kicks off in North Carolina June 3 and, as 51%’s Jim Levulis tells us, includes stops in Massachusetts and New York. 

Parton is a member of the country music hall of fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also had 25 songs reach #1 on the Billboard country charts. One was “Jolene.” And Sarah McGowan has a song from her first EP of original songs that has been called a modern day “Jolene,” a song called “Molly.”  

Huguette Tolinga started to play the drums when she was just seven years old, against the wishes of her family. Drums in Kinshasa are widely considered the domain of boys men. Her dream is to one day open a music school in Africa. We get this story from DW correspondent Thomas Klein and presented by Sarah Steffen. 

A new study suggests musical games with their parents could not only boost babies’ musical development, but could help them recognize speech patterns, too. 

It’s not musical, but music to many ears,especially to a Massachusetts fifth-grader who has a special reason to celebrate the announcement African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman will be featured on the $20 bill.

She wrote to President Barack Obama in 2014 suggesting a woman be put on U.S. currency and offered a list of possible names, including Tubman's. The girl is Sofia, whose family asks her full name not be used. She tells The Associated Press she was ecstatic to get the news in a phone call from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Wednesday, her 11th birthday. Sofia says she asked Obama in the letter why there were no women on U.S. currency. Tubman escaped from slavery and later helped other slaves gain freedom. Sofia says Tubman risked her life to save others.

The choice to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is being praised for its symbolism. Many say it's a powerful change that a slave-owning president who forced Native Americans from their lands is being succeeded by an African-American abolitionist who risked her life to free others. Not everyone wants to see Jackson moved. They celebrate him for his role as general during the War of 1812 and for his life as a self-made, everyday man who reached the pinnacle of power. 

A proposal to turn Harriet Tubman's upstate New York home into a National Historical Park is moving ahead days after it was announced that the abolitionist would be featured on the $20 bill. The Citizen newspaper in Auburn, New York, reports that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a general agreement Friday that allows the transfer of land to the National Park Service.

New York U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand hailed the signing of the agreement, which came two days after the U.S. Treasury announced Tubman would be on the $20 bill. The agreement must be signed by the current owners of the land and go to the New York state attorney general's office for review. Schumer said the park could open by the end of the year. 

And that's our show this week. Thanks to Patrick Garrett for production assistance. Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock. Our theme music is Glow in the Dark by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio. If you’d like to hear this show again, sign up for our podcast, or visit the 51% archives on our web site at wamc.org. And follow us on Twitter @51PercentRadio This week’s show is #1398. 

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