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Girls to the front

MisFEST returns for its third year

The Golden Ones at MisFEST 2018

Emily Steward

Being taken seriously as a woman in the music industry can seem like an impossible task. Men try to explain things you’ve known for years, critics comment on how you look more than how you sound, and you’re left pigeonholed into the nebulous “female-fronted” genre, competing against other women for limited token spots on a bill. 

Amira Al-Jiboori and Casii Stephan saw these issues firsthand while playing shows around town. The two noticed all the talented women performing in Oklahoma hardly ever got to play on the same bill. They decided to change that by launching MisFEST, a music festival dedicated to showcasing talented women musicians and bringing them all together on one stage. 

“Our mission was kind of two fold: One was to shine a larger spotlight on women in Oklahoma [who] are doing music and doing it well ... and to provide more community and collaboration among female musicians,” Al-Jiboori said. 

Now in its third year, MisFEST has grown to be a huge celebration of women and their music. This year’s fest includes food trucks, art installations, an interactive watercolor painting, vendors and, of course, plenty of live music. Because the fest is free and in the heart of downtown Tulsa at Guthrie Green, Al-Jiboori has high hopes people walking by will be pulled into the festivities and be introduced to their new favorite artist. 

“I’m excited because this year we will have a larger turn out, which means more women being supported, more women celebrating together and more men and women recognizing great new artists,” Al-Jiboori said. 

Headliner KT Tunstall said she’s honored to play this year’s MisFEST because the message hits so close to home. 

“When you play a show that has a cause behind it, you find that you will feel it running through the whole experience. Lyrics in your own songs can take on slightly different meanings, and you notice certain lines hitting home more because everyone is thinking about the underlying reason why you are all there together,” Tunstall said.

The cause is especially important to Tunstall, who makes a point to perform with an all-woman band. “The reaction across the board was so powerful, from all ages. People loved seeing five ‘chicks’ on stage rocking the hell out of it,” Tunstall said.

Al-Jiboori said MisFEST will be around for as long as it is still a “thing” to be a woman musician.

“There’s already an implication that it’s not normal for a woman to be a part of music … even by someone saying, ‘Oh, how cool—there’s a chick percussionist up there!’ If you’re saying that, there’s this implication that it’s not normal, and if it’s not normal then maybe girls don’t look to that as a possible profession for themselves,” Al-Jiboori said. “As long as it’s a thing to have a ‘chick drummer’ or be a ‘girl band,’ there’s obviously a need for something like this. We would love for there to be no need, but there still is right now.” 

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MisFEST 2019

Guthrie Green, 111 E. M.B. Brady St.
Sept. 14, 3 p.m., free
Shoulda Been Blonde, Yardbone, Smoochie Wallus, Bambi feat. Tea Rush, Tea Rush, Good Villains, KT Tunstall