SisterSpace, the annual camping festival for women’s music, culture, and—most importantly— community, is gearing up for another year of femme-oriented fun with a social impact that is unparalleled.
With comedy, spoken word, jazz, pop, folk, rock, world music and more, the festival is spread out over five stages indoors and outdoors and lasts three days. This year’s theme, “Her(Story),” builds upon last year’s theme,“ReSisterSpace,” where workshops were focused on empowerment, activism, and self-care.
“We have several workshops about empowerment, but also about coming together,” says Jo-Ann McIntyre, an organizer of SisterSpace. “It’s about coming together, learning how to talk and listen to each other and hearing and celebrating each other’s stories.”
The festival, which has been held since 1977, has long ensured that the event is packed with opportunities and activities to connect queer individuals with each other and allow for intergenerational queer bonding and solidarity.
This year, the festival will celebrate the creation of the Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund. Virginia Giordano was a prominent and celebrated producer of women’s music in the 1970s who helped to promote LGBTQ musicians, including SisterSpace performers Holly Near and Cris Williamson, until her death in 2014. The fund is aimed at helping up-and-coming musicians and other individuals gain more recognition and visibility.
Near, who is on the advisory board for the Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund, has participated in women’s music festivals since the early ’70s and emphasizes the importance of these spaces in celebrating and advocating for one another.
“How do we change the racism and sexism that still hangs on in organizations, institutions, and individuals?” Near asks. “I think songwriters can continue to be of use in this regard. It is important for people who think of themselves as progressive to look long and hard on what work still needs to be done.” Music festivals like SisterSpace can be an avenue of change that can help in this dismantling.
“We all need songs no matter who we are, no matter where we come from,” Near says. With a line-up of musicians that span multiple generations and backgrounds (including Be Steadwell, Crys Matthews, Indigie Femme, and KIN4LIFE) and plenty more workshops and events, SisterSpace is gearing up for a successful year.
SisterSpace takes place September 7–9 in Darlington, Maryland. To register for the festival or to learn more about the SisterSpace community, visit sisterspace.org.