“She’s overtime and underpaid
She’s kicking ass and taking names
She’s punching that clock
She’s climbing that ladder
She’s spinning those wheels
She can do your job ten times better
And do it in heels
So get your glass up for the working woman
When you gotta get shit done call the working woman
Thank god for the working woman
This country’s run by the working woman”
– Grace Pettis, “Working Woman”
I keep rewriting an opening line about how music’s power is in its ability to connect us, but I have yet to figure out how to make that not sound hokey. But you know what I mean, right? It connects us with our place and time, it connects us with our feelings and memories, and it connects us to people near and far. It’s also created this beautiful and growing community of artists and audience members in Memphis who have unexpected connections of their own. Not only is there a direct through-line from our very first Folk All Y’all guest to the artists of Nobody’s Girl, but just looking around the room during our show revealed dozens of other ties between and among the folks on- and off-stage.
Memphis is small-townish, sure, but I think the people who gather in these settings are especially likely to reach out to others. Heck, that’s how we got there in the first place – our venue for the night, Studio688*, was managed by past show guests who got in touch to see if their awesome space would work for our events. But the ties went well beyond Memphis: we also had surprise guests from the Netherlands who had hosted each member of Nobody’s Girl overseas, plus Austin transplant Will Sexton who was a long-time collaborator with BettySoo before finding his way up here.
In a setting that interconnected, the music is more than a common bond, it’s a celebration of that bond. And in light of the Memphis debut of this stellar trio, celebration was certainly in order. It was a joy to bring Rebecca Loebe back to Memphis after she supported this series so early on, a privilege to have a new home for Grace Pettis after her years with Memphis House Concerts, and a pure delight to finally see BettySoo in person after hearing about her from so many admiring musician friends.
The evening kicked off with “Queen City,” the first song co-written by this burgeoning band, proving why it was clear from the start that they should be making music together. I have to admit that when I first heard that these specific artists were joining forces, I wasn’t sure how that would sound because they’re each such different voices, literally and figuratively — Rebecca’s crystalline bounce, Grace’s barely contained storm, and BettySoo’s edgy vulnerability. But much like the Linda Ronstadt/Dolly Parton/Emmylou Harris project that’s surely in all three of their collections, their distinct tones and perspectives intertwine and create something truly one-of-a-kind.
They wound through two sets alternating their individual and collaborative compositions, complementing each other so seamlessly it would have been hard for a new listener to tell one from the other. And of course, they added in judiciously chosen covers, from Raina Rose to Blondie to Tracy Chapman, that paid tribute to their influences and further established their mission statement as a group: women are all kinds of badass. (Okay, that’s an unofficial mission statement, but I think it fits.)
It was so hard to see the evening end that we kept Nobody’s Girl around for an encore, but even after the music was over, the room was filled with hugs and stories and gracious words. Everyone seemed reluctant to go their separate ways, but there was some comfort in the new thing we’d shared. Through these three old friends venturing on a whole new journey together, we all made our connection a little deeper.
*A note about Studio688: They not only graciously sponsored our show with Nobody’s Girl but Emily and Jake were hands-on helpers from start to finish, even stepping in to record (in hi-def!) when our livestreaming went wonky. Sound and light engineer John Christman worked overtime to make sure the band looked and sounded amazing (while humbly pointing out it would be a real challenge to make them look or sound bad). If you’re looking for an event venue, absolutely give them a call.
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