Some news at the beginning of 2021

We hope you’re all well and managing the current situation with the help of good music! Apologies if you receive any advertisements in this post – they are inserted without our permission.

Special Offer: Buy One Get One Free! The Women’s Liberation Music Archive is having its tenth birthday and to mark the anniversary we’re offering a special two-for-one deal on a compilation CD: twenty tracks by feminist musicians from the 1970s and 80s. £10 including postage and packing. All proceeds from the CD go toward the upkeep of the archive. Email us to order copies:

WLMA is happy to see new releases from women musicians who are featured in the archive. 

The Stepney Sisters have released a new single from 1975 called ‘SISTERS’. This feminist band formed in Stepney in the mid-70s (pre Jam Today and Guest Stars). Their album is being released on the Alcopop Record label and will also be on digital platforms such as Spotify. There will be a feature on the Stepney Sisters in The Guardian in late February. Stepney Sisters are Ruthie Smith, Noni Ardill, Caroline Gilfillan, Bennie Lees and Suzy Hogarth. Stream and share:

Maggie Nicols CD ‘Creative Contradiction: Poetry, Story, Songs and Sound’ is on the TakuRoku label – Café Oto’s new digital imprint which raises funds for artists and the venue. An 8-page feature on Maggie by Louise Gray is the cover feature in the March 2021 issue of The Wire, issue 445. Buy the magazine directly from and there’s an audio clip from a 2015 performance here:

‘Back to the Seventies’ ! Blow The Fuse is showing archive films from the 1970s and early 1980s: check out their Youtube channel  for ‘Life before the Guest Stars’ – they recently ‘discovered some amazing footage which offers a rare insight to part of the Women’s music scene from that time.’ You can view it on 25th February or subsequently, as with all their great performances, on Blow the Fuse ‘On Air’ – ‘a series of online concerts recorded exclusively by Blow the Fuse from the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston. You can subscribe to the Blow the Fuse YouTube channel – it’s totally free to do so. And please DONATE ‘to keep supporting their shows and musicians in these turbulent times.’ All shows after initial broadcast can be viewed anytime on our You Tube channel HERE You can already watch shows featuring Carol Grimes, Deirdre Cartwright, Liane Carroll, Annie Whitehead, The Guest Stars 1985 film, Martha & Eve plus DaDa Dandies. More live performances coming soon: ARQ (Alison Rayner Quintet), Casimir Connection, Ian Shaw, Georgia Mancio & Kate Williams, plus there will be more interviews and archive film footage. Each show is about 50-60 minutes long and goes live on Thursday evenings at 8pm

‘Back to the Seventies’ features the following bands: Jam Today 1 with Deirdre Cartwright, Alison Rayner, Terry Hunt, Josie Mitten, Angele Veltmeijer, Diana Wood, Frankie Green and featuring guest vocalist Laka Daisical. Tour de Force with Deirdre Cartwright, Bernice Cartwright, Viv Corringham and Val Lloyd. The Raincoats with Ana da Silva, Gina Birch, Vicky Aspinall and unknown drummer. Jam Today 3 with Alison Rayner, Terry Hunt, Barbara Stretch, Julia Dawkins and Jackie Crew. Also tantalising glimpses of Ruthie Smith, Angele Veltmeijer, Laka Daisical, Linda da Mango, Lindsay Cooper, Vicky Scrivener, Maggie Nichols, Rosemary Schonfeld, Jana Runnalls, Tierl Thompson and many others from a Womens Day March in the late 1970s. Please let BtF know if you recognise anyone else from this rare footage.

Check out Peggy Seeger’s 20 minute lockdown series Peggy at 5 on Sundays: she writes ‘Every episode of this new series takes a focus track from my upcoming album First Farewell and builds the programme around a theme.  Peggy at 5 on Sunday is on YouTube and Facebook and you can download song lyrics in advance HERE.’

‘Freedom of movement is essential for musicians’ – opera singer told to change pro-EU dress!

“It’s a difficult time for the musical community because free movement is essential for us to carry out our jobs. It’s an industry where many of us work contract by contract so everyone is really quite worried about what will happen,” the British soprano told the Guardian.

sad loss

WLMA is saddened to hear of the death of Debbie Dickinson, a great woman who will be greatly missed. The women from Blow the Fuse paid this tribute: ‘We announce with very heavy hearts the death of Debbie Dickinson. She was a close personal friend, our ’Seventh Sister’ in The Guest Stars and a great supporter of Blow the Fuse. We knew Debbie for nearly 40 years. From the days of the Sisterhood of Spit, Sunday nights at the Kings Head, and as the manager of The Guest Stars she toured the world with us. She was a strong, brave, funny and intrepid woman who was greatly loved by all of us and who will be sadly missed by the larger jazz community, her partner Lorraine and her friends, colleagues and students at City University. Feeling your warmth and seeing you smiling on us still….we miss you.’ For a tribute to Debbie and an account of her brilliant lifetime’s achievements, please see Tribute to Debbie Dickinson by John Cumming in Jazz News.

Thanks also to Chris Hodgins for sending us this lovely tribute to Debbie, posted on the Guest Stars page


Congratulations to Blow The Fuse!


Women’s Liberation Music Archive says happy thirtieth anniversary to Blow the Fuse, and a big thank you for all they have done to advance women in music, jazz and feminism in the 30 years since they began running a regular jazz night in the theatre at the Duke of Welly on the Balls Pond Road, Hackney, London, in 1989! They say: Since then there’s been The Happening, Emma Peel Fan Club, Electric Landladies, the Kings Head Theatre, Samuel Pepys, the old Vortex, the new Vortex, 14 album releases and then the Alison Rayner Quintet won Jazz Ensemble of the Year in 2018. Children have been born and grown up, family members have passed away, many dear friends have gone from this life and still the music plays on.

With all this in mind and with a nod to our slightly ‘electric’ name, our new season is called ‘Resistance.’ Yes, Blow the Fuse is like a movement. Despite the vagaries of funding from different bodies which have left us high and dry so many times, we know we have the most wonderful followers, friends and fans. We could not have continued all this time without your support and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Resistance badges and T-shirts will be out soon 🙂 – and we have a great Blow the Fuse season coming up for 2019! Highlights include:

Michele Drees Jazz Tap Project on Thursday 31st January. Fresh from their sold out concert at the Elgar Rooms, we’re looking forward to an evening of incredible tap dance improvisations with Jazz and Brasilian music played by a six piece band led by drummer Michele Drees. BOOK TICKETS NOW!

Celebrate International Women’s Day with us and the one and only CAROL GRIMES. Friday 8th March The Old Church on Stoke Newington Church Street. An all-star band includes Annie Whitehead, Jessica Lauren and Alison Rayner plus a set from the UK’s top guitar duo Deirdre Cartwright & Kathy Dyson. BOOK TICKETS NOW

Carol Grimes

Carol Grimes ‘Equal parts Marsha Hunt, Julie Driscoll and Merry Clayton, turning her song poems into seductive, hypnotic and terrifying incantations. A remarkable piece.’ Lois Wilson MOJO

Mrs Dates Diary:

  • Thursday 31 JanuaryMichele Drees’ Jazz tap Project Vortex Jazz Club BOOK
  • Thursday 28 FebruaryPaint it Blue Deirdre Cartwright & Rachel Bartlett Vortex Jazz Club BOOK
  • Friday8 March International Women’s day with Carol Grimes The Old Church, Stoke Newington BOOK
  • Thursday 21 March Deirdre Cartwright PLAY groupfeaturing Louise Elliott (sax/flute) Vortex Jazz Club BOOK
  • Thursday 28 MarchARQLeicester Jazzhouse BOOK
  • Thursday25 April Annie Whitehead Vortex Jazz Club

Blow the Fuse team posts up new photos and news regularly on our facebook pages and our website






5 Days Until FiLiA Feminist Conference!

Book your FiLiA 2018 tickets now

FiLiA 2018 is just one week away.

There is still time to buy your ticket, but some workshops are already fully booked so we recommend planning your weekend as soon as possible.

We are really looking forward to seeing you there!

Sisterhood and solidarity,
Kirstie and the FiLiA team

Book your ticket

Please don’t forget, you can also
make a donation and enable someone else to join us
at FiLiA 2018

Donate a ticket

Date: 20-21 October 2018
Venue: Lighthouse Venue, 12 Centenary Park, Coronet Way, Eccles, Salford, Manchester M50 1RE

Some of the topics covered this year include
Justice For Palestine: Women’s Perspective
Culture of Disbelief: Asylum Seeker Is Not My Name
Take Out Misogyny: Veganism and Patriarchy
Violence Against Women and Girls: A Global Epidemic
Representation and Reform: 100 Years Since the 1918 Reform Act
Lesbians: History, Defiance, Activism
Women and The Class Struggle
Book your ticket
Support us

FiLiA is run entirely by volunteers. All the money from the sale of tickets to the conference and FiLiA merchandise goes directly towards helping us achieve our goals of promoting equality, diversity and human rights.
If you’d like to donate to FiLiA, you can donate here.

Help the Feminist Library Build its New Home!

Help the Feminist Library Build its New Home

Crowdfunding Campaign Launches Today!Help us Raise £30,000

Please help the Feminist Library to continue and get the home it rightly deserves. Donate now:

Dear all, we are very excited to announce that we have found a new home to move into, the Sojourner Truth Community Centre at 161 Summer Road in Peckham. The building has great potential, but it is very expensive to move a library!

We are today launching a Crowdfunder campaign, running from 16th October until 9th December 2018. We need to fundraise urgently and are asking for your support to help raise the £30,000 needed. All money raised will go towards fitting out the new space, moving the thousands of books, and the legal costs of moving a library.

The Urgent Need to Move
We need to leave our current premises in Westminster Bridge Road in Spring 2019, as the building is due for redevelopment. We have no choice but to move and so urgently need to make the new building fit for purpose. Without this money the Library may have no option but to close, after 43 years of operation.

The Feminist Library has survived for over 4 decades by the goodwill and passion of our dedicated volunteers and supporters, and with next to no external funding. We are now counting on the community’s support to make this move happen. Please give what you can, help protect this much loved community resource and preserve Feminist Herstory.

Help the Feminist Library Build Its New Home
Exciting Rewards
Donors to the Crowdfunder campaign will receive various rewards, including:£25 – Special edition ‘move’ tote bags
£40 – Feminist Library tote bag and zine bundle
£50 – VIP Tickets to the Grand Opening Party
£60 – Special edition artwork donated by Lucie Russell
£80 – Champagne and Cake Tea at the Library
£120 – Framed limited edition print donated by artist Lucie Russell.
£150 – Framed limited edition photographic print by the iconic feminist activist poet and artist Astra Blaug, donated by her son Adam Blaug
£200 – Set of artist’s photographic prints donated by artist Megan Jordan
£300 – Set of 2 paintings on canvass donated by artist Daiane Medeiros
£400 – Set of 3 framed paintings donated by artist Syeda Alishba Amin-ud-Din
£500 – Your name engraved on your own shelf in our new fabulous space! (choose your section!)Vision for the New Building

The proposed new space is part of the Sojourner Truth Community Centre – named after the famous African-American activist and abolitionist. It is at the heart of the local community and is completely wheelchair accessible.It is 1,500sq ft, which is 50% bigger then our current cramped premises. It will give substantially increased shelving space, office space, and a kitchen to provide food at community events. This will enable us to build on our priceless collection and expand our vibrant community programme, as well as new exhibition space to showcase feminist art and archive materials.

The Sojourner Truth Community is a listed building, which will mean security for the Library for years to come. We will be sharing the building with a number of other community organisations, including a couple of women’s groups.

Feminist Design Collective
The Feminist Library is lucky to have an amazing team of feminist architects, designers and makers lined up to work on the project, who are giving their time for free to make the new space possible. The space will be designed by HI-VIS and Lucy Sanderson, and the fittings built by Power Project– collectives of feminist architects, designers and makers, who will also be teaching young women and non-binary people wood and metal work skills while making the Library’s new furniture!

Please donate, ask your friends and family to donate, share the Crowdfunder page and help us give the Library the secure home for the future that it rightly deserves! 


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Copyright © *2016* *|Feminist Library|*, All rights reserved.


Help to fundraise for this important film: Invisible Women: The Story of Two LGBTQ Revolutionaries

Invisible Women

A short documentary charting the last 50 years of Manchester’s LGBTQ history through the personal story of two incredible women – feminist lesbian activists and founders of the pioneering Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band.

Please pledge a donation if you can to help fund this important project and make sure this story is not lost to history:

INVISIBLE WOMEN is a short documentary that will tell the untold story of the North West’s LGBTQ past over the last 50 years through the lens of two women’s incredible journey of activism and rebellion.  Angela and Luchia have spent the last half a century fighting for their rights as women and as lesbians. Their work has revolutionised Manchester whilst transforming the lives of thousands of women and yet no record of them exists in the city’s archives; theirs is a story that risks disappearing from history. We want to change that with the film: INVISIBLE WOMEN. 

THE STORY: Manchester, 1969. Luchia Fitzgerald, a teenage Lesbian runaway from Ireland struggles to survive on the streets of Manchester. She’s arrested and sent for a lobotomy to cure her of her “deviant sexual tendencies”. Luchia escapes the lobotomy to seek solace in the New Union, a pub at the epicentre of Manchester’s underground gay community.  Luchia is at her lowest ebb when she hears a female student at the next table giving voice to every frustration she felt; Luchia pulls up a chair to listen. That student was Angela and this chance encounter sparked a relationship that has endured fifty years of euphoric highs and earth-shattering lows in the struggle to change life for ALL women.

Under Angela’s wing Luchia is educated and politicised through the burgeoning Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970s. The pair fall in love and form the Manchester branch of the GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Together they experiment with activism beginning by painting “Lesbians are everywhere” in yellow across Manchester. The couple then progress to helping form a rock band, [see more on] opening a printing press and squatting a house that would become the city’s first women’s centre inspiring other local women in the process. When the police ask Angela and Luchia to start looking after battered wives Manchester’s first women’s refuge is formed.

As their work gains a momentum of its own and changes lives beyond the city Angela and Luchia’s love affair begins to falter. The GLF disbands, the band splits up and the printing press closes. It’s the 1980s and things are moving backwards not forwards. Set against this landscape of apathy comes a bombshell: Thatcher’s repressive Section 28 bill. It is this attack against their hard-won rights that forces the women to reunite and transform the city once again.

WHY THIS FILM MATTERS: 2017 witnessed a rich variety of programmes and films that explored the 50 years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality. However, the vast majority of this work focused almost exclusively on the experience of white, middle-class gay men from London. The women’s story, and particularly the story of regional working-class women, has largely been ignored.

Whilst the film is ostensibly about Angela and Luchia’s personal and political journey we are using their relationship to explore Manchester and, in particular, the forgotten and, up until now, untold story of the North West’s LGBTQ past through a working class lens of rebellion and activism which is still alive today: Angela and Luchia are still very much fighting for their rights and the rights of LGBTQ people in Manchester.

WHY NOW: In 2018 – the year that marks the centenary since women won the partial right to vote AND the 30th anniversary since Thatcher enacted Section 28 – we want to bring the INVISIBLE WOMEN out from the shadows of history.

WHAT WE NEED AND COST: Until now we have entirely self-funded the project using our own camera kit to shoot. We have also been supported by institutions such as Manchester’s Peoples’ History Museum, Manchester Central Library, Contact Theatre and the Bishopsgate institute in London who have all offered either free filming locations or archive material. We have now provisionally got a premiere date: Manchester Pride, 24th – 27th August 2018 with support from the event organisers who are keen to feature women predominately in the festival.

In order to complete the film in time for Manchester Pride 2018 we need funding to license archive material, pay for the edit and commission a score.

ABOUT US Alice Smith (director) has factual TV broadcast credits as a producer on documentaries for BBC 4, PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Her directing work includes short films, music videos and a Youtube channel (Super Women launching Summer 2018) that will feature documentary content about inspirational women, made entirely by women. Joe Ingham (producer) is a factual TV producer whose credits include The People’s History of LGBT Britain (BBC 4), Is Love Racist (C4), The Beatles Hippies and Hell’s Angels for Sky Arts.

Risks and challenges: With Manchester Pride 2018 looming there is a risk that we may not be able to complete the film in time for the premier.  To mitigate this we have drawn on our years of experience working in broadcast TV. We’ve shot and edited as much of the material as possible and without funding. We have sourced all the archive material ourselves and we know exactly what we want to use and how. We have also lined up a composer and editor so that they can begin work as soon as we have secured the necessary funding.

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ


International Women’s Day 2018

Live and broadcast musical events for IWD 2018 include:

Special Late Junction session on Radio 3: Verity Sharp with an International Women’s Day show As part of BBC Radio 3’s schedule marking International Women’s Day, Verity Sharp celebrates the female musical collective in all its forms, styles, and structures. A special Late Junction collaboration session has been assembled for the occasion, featuring members of notable performance collectives past and present. Our unique, one-off trio features: Maggie Nicols, who co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group; Verity Susman, formerly of Electrelane; and Amble Skuse, a member of the Orchestra For Females And Laptops aka OFFAL. Hear the results of this historic, improvised musical meeting, as well as a roundtable conversation between participants on the history and future of the female collective.

Also featured on the programme is music from all over the globe made by women working together. Expect to hear: folk supergroup Coven; loose sound art collective Egyptian Females Experimental Music Session; traditional Tuareg trio Les filles de Illighadad; jazz band Nérija; hip hop crew Reykjavíkurdætur; and performance art improvisers Sheer Frost Orchestra.

8 March 2018 18:30 ~ The Power of Music – FORWARD – London. Artists Using Conversation and Music for Social Change. FORWARD UK‘s Musicians Unite to End FGM project in collaboration with Black HistoryStudies is pleased to present Journalist and FORWARD Ambassador, Ade Daramy will be in conversation with Blues artist Corey Harris (Corey Harris Band), Congolese hip hop artists Nka1 and Tunde (of  Lopango Ya Banka) and UK female rapper extraordinaire – Sharna Cane.

The Royal College of Music is celebrating International Women’s Day with events, featuring compositions by female composers, plus the wonderful conductor, Holly Mathieson.

Oxford: Faculty of Music presents a special concert:

The School of Electronic Music is joining forces with Manchester based collective Queen Bees to curate a week of free events and workshops for women.

Nottingham: Join Cultural Vibrations founder Rastarella at The Maze on Thursday 8th March for her International Womens Day creative showcase.This year’s theme is #PressforProgress so on the line up you will be inspired by local creative females leading the way for other women to make their mark in the creative industry. Creative Energies performing on the night include DJ PRINCESS, LYTISHA, IAMSTARZ, AMIE CHERRY, BELLY DANCE WORLD Expect good vibes, live music & dance, spoken word, stalls plus much more.

A month-long programme of activities to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day 2018:

British Music Collection: Throughout the month of March, in support of International Women’s Day 2018, Sound and Music is showcasing incredibly talented women in music, celebrating female composers both past and present, with a different profile featured every day.

Hull: ‘Let Me Fly’ is a celebration of music and song to mark International Women’s Day, inspired by the indomitable spirit of flying heroine Amy Johnson in her home town Hull, City of Culture 2017. It will feature local renowned Yorkshire singer/songwriters Paula Ryan, Katie Spencer and Ali Bullivent.-Special guests will include Hull’s Heartsong and a live web link to India with Ranjani Mahesh singing and playing the traditional veena.

Check out Yegna: a group that supports women’s rights using music influenced by Ethiopian heritage is thriving – despite losing UK aid funding.

 9 March 2018 Women For Refugee Women’s drama group perform their songs and poetry at the Women of the World festival, 2.30pm Riverside Terrace Cafe, Royal Festival Hall, London. Show support in solidarity with the Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers:

If you missed Sunday’s Radio 3 programme A Portrait of Val Wilmer on the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music you can still catch it on iPlayer

If you know of an event you think WLMA could publicise, please get in touch!

Lots of IWD events can be found via womensgrid: a free service to help information by and about women and women’s groups to be shared between interested women and women’s groups.

If you’re in London this Saturday hope to see you on the march!

‘As a political weapon, it has helped me for 30 years defend the rights of American blacks and third-world people all over the world, to defend them with protest songs. To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world.’
– Nina Simone





Val Wilmer on BBC Radio 3

Listen up! Don’t miss this BBC Radio 3 programme at 18.45 on 4th March, then available on iPlayer A Portrait of Val Wilmer documents the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music. Contributors include publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby, percussionist Andrew Cyrille, writers Paul Gilroy and Richard Williams, Val’s co-worker at Melody Maker in 1969, and Val’s brother Clive Wilmer.

This marks the republication of Val Wilmer’s groundbreaking book, the 1977 classic As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977, ‘the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the true vanguard of American culture. Placing the achievements of African-American artists in their broader political and social context … Wilmer evokes an era of extraordinary innovation and experimentation that continues to inspire musicians today.’ The book includes a chapter on women’s role that has been acknowledged as a pioneering move in gender studies.

Out on March 1st and available as paperback and ebook direct from the publisher, Serpent’s Tail. You can pre-order a copy now:

This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically.’ – Viv Albertine

 We congratulate Val, valued friend of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, on her achievements.

See more on this amazing woman and her work over 50 years, including this 1973 interview by Rosie Parker in Spare Rib:

excerpted interview of val wilmer spare-rib 17 1973

News from the Fuse: legendary Ivy Benson musicians reunion


A reminder of a great gig happening next week at the Vortex, Thursday 15 February.
Claudia Lang-Colmer, Crissy Lee  & Ann O’Dell (Ivy Benson Reunion band) come to ‘Swing the Vortex’
These legendary musicians are joined by special guest Alyson Cawley on tenor sax.
The Reunion Band played at the last two Celebrations of what would have been Ivy Benson’s 100th and 101st birthday.

Rare photo of Claudia Lang-Colmer playing electric bass in 1962
Claudia Lang-Colmer played double bass in the Ivy Benson band from 1954 and is still an in demand player in Cornwall today.
Crissy Lee joined Ivy Benson in the early 1960’s and is a renowned drummer, bandleader and teacher and has appeared on television many times.
After leaving Ivy Benson, Ann O’Dell played with Roxy Music, Blue Mink and Bryan Ferry as a piano player and arranger. She led her own band ‘Chopyn’ and has continued to play and tour with many groups.Plus Double double bass Claudia Lang-Colmer & Alison Rayner Two of the UK’s top double bass players in musical conversation. Also don’t forget that Alison’s group ARQ, return on Wednesday 21 February to Soho Pizza Express Jazz Club after their sell out show last June. We had school reunions and parties of friends coming down to this event last time and they were treated to infectious grooves, lyrical melodies, jazz with folk, rock, classical and other world music influences, at one of London’s best and friendliest jazz rooms in Soho. This is a rare London date for the group, so book your tickets here: INFO/BOOK Take a look at ARQ playing live at the Soho Pizza Express last time VIDEO


Friday 9 March The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day with one of the ‘world’s greatest cabaret singers’ Barb Jungr plus Solar Flares BOOK NOW