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Women’s day… Mad’ for it!

07 March, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin will be at the Jazz Cafe on March 8

PERHAPS one of the great things about celebrating worldwide events such as International Women’s Day in London is the variety of events to pick from, with space for the soulful, the high-brow and the generally silly, if that is your desire. While the day, on March 8, like any named event these days, is sometimes transparently used as a hook upon which to hang the latest press release, there are also some genuinely worthwhile events out there – and some which are all about the fun. We’ve selected a few events that should cover the spectrum:

• Over at the Jazz Cafe (on March 8), print and online magazine gal-dem, which is written by women and non-binary people of colour, co-hosts a triple bill of rising stars headed by Brooklyn singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin. Madison first introduced her soulful take on a cappella to the world with her debut solo EP, Finding Foundations: Vol. I, in December 2016. A celebrated breakthrough artist in her own right, Madison comes from a family of vocal pioneers, following in the footsteps of her jazz virtuoso father Bobby McFerrin, while Brainfeeder producer Taylor McFerrin is her brother. Her latest release, Finding Foundations: Vol. II, explores more ways to create experiences that engage and empower her community. Joining her on the bill are 90s R&B-influenced duo S4U (made up of singer Rosita Bonita and producer Prinz George) and north London newcomer Raheaven aka Rachel Yohannes, the eldest of five, who grew up surrounded by music thanks to her Eritrean parents, who joined a band on their arrival to the UK back in 1989.

• Down at the Southbank, WOW London 2019 hosts a weekend of events to ask What Now? and What Next? during a packed programme of events at the Royal Festival Hall. WOW – Women of the World – hosts musicians, thinkers, actors and activists over two days to address the state of gender equality today. First, What Now? (on March 8) looks at the here and now, from politics to financial empowerment, toxic masculinity to the intersection of sexism, racism and homophobia. Singer Annie Lennox leads a conversation on Global Feminism and how local activism can turn into international solidarity; Julia Gillard, the first woman prime minister of Australia, talks about resilience and her mission to dispel the myths about female leadership, while other speakers include Gina Miller, the woman who successfully challenged the UK government’s authority to trigger Article 50; Rizzle Kicks musician and actor Jordan Stephens talks about the effects of toxic masculinity; Scarlett Curtis, curator of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies); Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), actor and co-creator of daisie, a new online community for creative collaboration; stand-up comedian Rosie Jones; cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson as well as spoken word from some of the UK’s best established and up and coming poets. What’s Next? follows on March 9, presenting some of the artists, thinkers, and activists who are bringing new thinking and ideas that will hopefully transform the world. Speakers include Sandi Toksvig; model and activist Munroe Bergdorf; Helena Kennedy QC, author of Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women; best-selling author Reshma Saujani (Founder of Girls Who Code) and Jenny Sealey MBE (Graeae Theatre Company) who will be launching ‘Where is my Vagina’, a new initiative born out of conversations with her friends about sex and ageing. WOW will also be in conversation with Lily Allen in the wake of her book My Thoughts Exactly.

• Things get a lot lighter over at Fest with an emphasis on glitter, burlesque, female DJs and musicians and a twist on bingo. Who Runs The World?! celebrates International Women’s Day with Blingo, Disco and Cabaret, with a proportion of the profits going to charity. The three-in-one celebration, which is open to all races, genders and sexualities, starts off at 6pm in FEST’s main room with Blingo, a hip-hop-themed bingo night that will champion the rap and hip-hop world’s brightest female stars, hosted by Grandma Flash, and with plenty of prizes. Over in The Birdcage from 7pm, a separately ticketed event unfolds with cabaret host Miss Polly Rae welcoming guests for a three-course dinner, wild burlesque and more. Camden Disco club takes over the main room from 10pm, paying homage to dance divas Sister Sledge and Donna Summer with an all-female DJ line-up bringing the best in 80s tunes and disco classics. Expect disco balls, glitter bombs, roller girls and plenty more surprises.

• Former Camden resident and singer-songwriter Sadie Jemmett’s single, Don’t Silence Me, which has been taken up as an anthem for the #metoo campaign, is released on March 8, with an official launch gig at the Camden Chapel on March 14.

• Nashville-based singer-songwriter and The Voice semi-finalist Sarah Potenza’s single, Diamond, from second solo album Road to Rome, is also released on March 8. Known to be an outspoken and fiercely independent feminist and body positivity activist, many of Sarah’s songs deal with female empowerment, self-reliance, self-acceptance and self-love.

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