Girls Rock! at saki record store

DJ Lady D teaches the girls how to synchronize beats
© Brooke Herbert Hayes
Unless you have a teenage or pre-teen girl who is an aspiring DJ, you may not have heard about the Girls Rock! event at  local record store saki last weekend. But last Sunday, girls ages 7-17 could go and get up close and personal DJ lessons from Girls Rock!, a local non-profit organization "dedicated to fostering girls’ creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through rock music."  For the DJ sessions, Girls Rock! brought in one of their instructors, DJ Lady D to teach girls the basics of how to spin records, synchronize beats and do mashups.   

Heather Lember, co-founder of Girls Rock!
© Brooke Herbert Hayes
Not only does Girls Rock! host events like the one at saki throughout the year, but they also host a summer camp for girls ages 6-18.  The summer camp started in 2006 after co-founders Heather Lember, Melissa Oglesby and Emily Easton heard about  Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls.  Lember, who is also the Program Director said they were inspired by the response to the Portland girls camp and thought, "why don't we start one here?"  

Girls Rock! has been hugely successful since it's inaugural camp and Lember says they get so many applications, they have to turn some away. The tuition for the camp runs on a sliding scale and Lember  says they focus on accepting the most motivated girls, even if they cannot afford the tuition. If a girl really wants to come to rock camp and cannot pay, they will still let her attend the week-long session. The curriculum for the sessions include instrument lessons, band practice, games and workshops.  At the end of each summer camp, the girls get to have a performance day and a recording day. On recording day, the girls actually go to Engine Studios and record an album--something that really helps the girls feel a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment.  And next month, saki will hold a release party for the 2 CDs produced in last summer's camp.  They invite all the girls to the CD release party, and they will get their first chance to hear the CD and see it in person.

Photo courtesy Girls Rock!, © Amanda Barbato

Oh, and did I mention that Girls Rock! is completely run by volunteers? I got a chance to talk with one of the girls who has attended camp for the past three summers, Alex Lund. Alex is in 7th grade, is 12 years old, plays the guitar and does vocals.  Last summer, her band at camp was called The Sometimes Girls.  She was incredibly enthusiastic about the program and expressed how she thought it was a great way to influence and inspire girls to express themselves through music and it is "so cool to be able to record [their] own music." Alex says getting to record a CD each year is an incredible opportunity and credits her influences to her dad who teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music--and to musicians like Mavis Staples, Joss Stone and Alicia Keys.  But when I caught up with her, she was just diving into a book about the Beatles, another band she draws inspiration from. In addition to benefits like recording music and performing in front of an audience, Alex says she has made "lifelong friends" at the camp.

Alex Lund, musician and 3-year student of
Girls Rock! Summer Camp
© Brooke Herbert Hayes 
So if you want to check out the music made during Girls Rock! summer camp, be sure to head to saki on December 11th for the CD release party and support the 150 girls who pour the hearts and souls into making great music every summer.  Stay tuned for details!

For more info on saki or Girls Rock!, please visit these sites:

--Brooke Herbert Hayes


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