In the late 90s, when I was in my late 20s, I worked the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
For folks who never heard of it, Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Womyn%27s_Music_Festival) says,
The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival…was an international feminist music festival held every August from 1976 to 2015 in Oceana County, Michigan, USA, near Hart Township, in a small wooded area known as “The Land.” The event was completely built, staffed, run and attended by women. The 40th Festival, in August 2015, was the last one.
Several of my lady friends had worked at the festival, some for multiple years. After hearing their stories of music and empowered women, I decided I wanted to work there too. I applied for a short crew position and was given a spot on the Disabled Access Resource Team (DART).
Some of my experiences at the festival were wonderful. Three times a day, I lined up in the workers’ dining area and received a plate of delicious food. I became friends with many delightful women and engaged in hours of stimulating conversation. I attended a workshop on bisexuality and found I wasn’t the only bisexual woman among the thousands of lesbians. I also listened to incredible music.
All these years later, I only remember one of the performances I witnessed that August in Michigan. Her name was Toshi Reagon. She was a woman of color in her mid-30s, and she sang and played her acoustic guitar. I liked the way she sounded.
I ended up with her CD Kindness. I can’t remember if I bought it at the festival or if I ordered it later from the Ladyslipper catalog. (Read more about Ladyslipper’s support of women’s music here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/03/cold-rain-and-snow/ or on the Ladyslipper website: https://www.ladyslipper.org/.) I do remember listening to that CD over and over and over again.
One of my favorite songs on the CD is called “Kindness.” To this day, I love to hear Toshi sing
If you are down and troubled
and you have not got a dime
you can come over to my house
and this is what you will find
there ain’t much to go around
but I will give you my hand
if you are down and troubled
and you have not got ten cents
because I believe in kindness
I believe in sweetness
I believe in peace and love
that is all I’ve been thinking of
Every since I titled my last blog post “Kindness,” I’ve been thinking of Toshi Reagon and singing her song of the same name. If you believe in kindness, sweetness, peace, and love, take four minutes and twenty seconds and have a listen to this wonderful song.