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Institute for Musical Arts - Play Like a Girl

How Women Musicians Inspire Us All

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Fanny: Jean and June Millington

Fanny: Jean and June Millington

Updated September 21, 2011
IMA Goshen MA

The Institute of Musical Arts exists to promote and teach girls to become women. To create and become all they can be. To say, “I’m not listening” to the negative messages out in the unreal world we live in. To carry out their mission regardless of the obstacles.

Have you ever heard of Fanny? I never did until I met June Millington when she played lead guitar for Cris Williamson at a women’s music festival. Fanny was one of the first all women's rock and roll bands. They had some success from 1970-1975, hit songs, live tours where they were met too often with the phrase, “Women can’t do that”. Their history was buried until now. Oh boy that was one phrase I heard over and over again growing up in the 50’s,60’s and 70’s in the USA. You can’t do that, you’re a girl. You’re not good enough, strong enough, or smart enough. You’re just not enough.

Despite hearing that over and over, June and her sister persevered. They were good enough. They had to be to compete with men. You can now, thanks to the Internet and Facebook, read all about Fanny. You can now educate yourself not just about women in music, but women in general. We were all more then enough. We overcame the “YOU CAN’T” message.

I could not stop thinking about this watching and listening to Toshi Reagon performing in the Big Barn at IMA. Talented, intense Toshi teaching, singing, performing, instructing, raising money for her friend and mentor June Millington. Sitting next to Alix Dobkin, I couldn’t stop thinking how she taught me that lesson now 28 years ago. How for some reason she never got that message, or if she did she never believed it. She just did what she was born to do. And taught me to do likewise. As June taught Toshi, and as I hope I have taught women I know. And so on and so on. Keep it going, teach the girls, teach the young women, show them by example, by words, by any means possible that they can, that they have a mission. They must get out there and play like a girl. Change the world.

The sad thing is women if they were united, could change the world. Funny we have the power in our hands, but we don’t know it. Just ask Cher who is now telling the world to leave her child alone, stop the hate. Cher is a mother defending her child. Cher is a mother loving her child. How powerful is that!

June Millington and Ann Hackler know about power. They built IMA to teach girls to play like one, and be proud. I recently went to their summer camp recording session open to the public. I watched the girls introduce their songs one by one, explaining their inspirations, introducing their friends, and their classmates. Thanking June and Ann for making it all possible. Then I listened to their songs, watched their faces and shared somewhat in their bliss. They were on a mission, they learned the secret. They were more than enough. So get out of their way, and let them fly. We all need to learn the message. Play like a girl, pass it on.

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