If the future is female, then Gasparilla Music Festival (GMF) has been ahead of the curve for half a decade now. From its inception, double-X chromosome carrying denizens of GMF’s tightly knit family of founders and board of directors, plus its staff and volunteers, have been an integral element of the festival’s lifeblood. True, a female has yet to step into the role of executive director, but that can’t be too far away for a festival just in its sixth year.
Stop to take a look around this weekend, and you’ll see women of all ages and races leading the charge in every facet of the operation, from the front gate to backstage.
Many strong women have graced the GMF stage, too. Last year saw Erykah Badu bring in the festival’s most diverse crowd to date. In 2015, a then somewhat unknown Margo Price took to the second stage before becoming the breaking new country star she is today (she’s a bright spot on Jack White’s impressive Third Man Records roster). Countless other ladies have lent their talents to the festival over the years, and in 2017 GMF finds its strongest overall spate of female artists to date taking over the bill. Whether it’s regional acts (Brenda Radney from Orlando soul group Sh-Booms, Tampa emcee QueenofEx) or ones from across state lines (Gracie Lawrence, who lends her name to New York pop collective Lawrence), you’re going to be giving it up for the girls playing GMF this year.
In celebration of that fact, CL caught up with four of the most exciting women on this year's bill: indie songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, rising soul star Lady Wray, country badass Kelsey Waldon and Tampa’s own Ari Chi. The next pages are packed with poignant insights from women being presented with questions about what it means to be a new artist in today’s increasingly unforgiving musical ecosystem, and how the world at large sees female artists; this Y-chromosome-toting writer just doest his best to get the hell out of the way.