We Need to Hear More Women Rock Out While We’re Working Out

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a 20-minute “classic rock” themed Peloton class. It was brutal. And by brutal, I mean awesome. I’m a former competitive high school athlete (turned mama) who works out 6 days a week, and I could barely keep up! 

The only problem? I didn’t hear any classic rock songs by women, except for a quick excerpt of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” at the end.

We heard Sting, that “Lola” song and even a Grateful Dead tune. But no Stevie Nicks. No Bangles. no Heart. No Pat Benetar. No Dusty Springfield. If these bands aren’t classic, I don’t know what is. 

I’d say I’m surprised, but I’m not. This happens nearly every time I hop on the damn bike, attend a bootcamp class or do anything other than running, when I listen to playlists I made myself. 

The problem isn’t that women aren’t making music! Ladies are racking up grammies, and proving they can play a guitar solo, drum solo or funky bass riff. 

The larger problem is that “women rock” is seen as an addendum to the default — songs written and performed by men or male-fronted acts. 

Consider this. 

When you turn on satellite radio, or attend a “festival,” if the event or station is not specifically dedicated to women, what do you hear? If you’re listening to Sirius Hits 1, you might hear Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa — but you won’t ever hear more than two songs by female artists in a row unless it’s some kind of countdown show based on airplay (the modern-day equivalent of “American Top 40”). Through most Sirius/Spotify/Tidal/radio streams, we’re fed a diet of mostly 80% male-led music acts. 

This trickles down to my workout. When cycling or Bootcamp instructors play “grunge,” I don’t hear Courtney Love or L7 nearly as much as I hear Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. These all-male bands are the “default” acts associated with a grunge sound. The women and their bands of that era, by comparison, are not considered significant.

This needs to change. The majority of people who take fitness classes are women. Why shouldn’t the majority of songs played feature women?

At a minimum, female/female-fronted music should account for at least 50 percent of a workout mix, especially for genre-based workout mixes (e.g., 80s, grunge, classic rock, metal). 

Working out makes me a better performer and a better mom.

We also need to ask our fitness instructors to slip a few more singles by the likes of Pat Benetar or Tina Turner into their era-themed classes. 

But maybe things are looking up, even if progress is slow. On Wednesday, my husband directed me to Kendall’s 30-minute class featuring the hardest women rockers — Courtney Love, Pretty Reckless (Taylor Momsen), Orianthi, Lacuna Coil, and Evanescence. It was brutal, but blissful. And as I sung along to every song, I have never felt more grateful for a fitness instructor. I’ll be taking only her classes from here on out. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Gail Silverman Puts the ‘G’ Back in ‘Girls Rock’ with New Music and New Outlook

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

It’s no longer revolutionary to see a woman slaying a guitar solo on stage, or a female-fronted band headlining a major tour or music festival. But when Gail Silverman founded Girls Rock & Girls Rule more than 15 years ago, women in hard rock genres tended to stay in the fringes, finding their home on alternative radio or within Lilith-type fairs. 

But Gail, a rock singer and guitarist, wanted to flourish within the mecca of musicians and inspiration in her Manhattan home. But even there, so few women in bands could get the mainstream attention their male counterparts enjoyed: Even artists like Courtney Love and Alanis Morrisette — who so loudly and angrily dominated the 1990s — got sidelined for pop princesses.  

So in a moment of glorious inspiration in 2001, Gail put together a rock show featuring only bands with one or more women in them. In the days that followed, Girls Rock & Girls Rule — better known as GRGR — was born. But after several good years — hundreds of shows featuring female rockers, two sponsored tours, and partnerships with leading vendors like Daisy Rock and organizations focused on women — the relentless challenge of city life took its toll, and GRGR went into hibernation. 

Finding it harder and harder to put together lucrative shows with women and music as the core focal points, Gail turned inward and decided to take a break — and moved Florida in 2012 to channel the bulk of her energy on her career as a freelance marketer. 

But the urge to give back to the women and her musical desires never ceased.

As rock enjoys a steady revival in nightclubs and airwaves, Gail started feeling the urge to rock again — and dusted off her trusty electric. 

On February 15, Gail returns to the stage with her band G-Spot for the Girls Rock & Girls Rule Reunion show (2/15, at LP n Harmony, 683 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211), with new tunes and a fresh outlook. 

Here, she tells us about what makes her motivated, and why nurturing the next generation of women in music is so critical.

ROCKMOMMY: How would you describe your music style?  

GAIL SILVERMAN: My musical style has evolved a bit over the years, and with my band G-spot, it was rock, punk, pop. For the past several years, it’s shifted to I would call ‘alternative folk rock’ and the themes of my songs have shifted from ‘angry girl’ tunes and relationship-driven songs to more conscious musical scores, with introspective lyrics and messages. Though every now and then I still fall back to my roots. And I do like to include some humor whenever I can.

ROCKMOMMY: What kinds of songs will you be playing at your next show? 

GAIL SILVERMAN: We will be playing a mix of classic G-spot songs with a very special guest on guitar who I am very excited about. That will be mixed with some of my solo material that I have written and released over the past several years. I will be on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and sharing the stage with my one of my best friends, band partner and bass player Donald Dixon, as well as Andrea Auerbach on drums and special guest Marisa Torrieri on lead guitar for a song or two. And of course I look forward to my other GRGR girls joining me on stage for some back-up vocals!

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Gail Silverman, founder of Girls Rock & Girls Rule

ROCKMOMMY: Who is the most inspirational live performer you’ve seen lately?

GAIL SILVERMAN: I have not had the opportunity to see a ton of live music lately, but I was impressed with the all the representation of women at the Grammys this year, even though some of the music was not my go to listening style, including Alicia Keyes and Bonnie Raitt who never cease to blow by mind with their talents.

ROCKMOMMY: The GRGR reunion show celebrates women in music. Has a lot changed in the past 15 years, since GRGR took off, and female rockers became more visible?  

GAIL SILVERMAN: I think women are starting to be more in the spotlight not only in music, but in the world in general, which I think is critical to changing the precarious state of the planet. However, I do still see a gap for women in the harder-rock genres and not a lot of representation there, and I know this is true in the country genre as well. It still seems the bulk of exposure for women in music is still in the pop genre. Of course, with Internet streaming changing the way we listen and discover music as well as social media, this continues to bring more opportunities to women and indie artists if you can find a way to break through the noise.


ROCKMOMMY: Being an independent artist isn’t always easy. What’s your best advice for making time to rock?

GAIL SILVERMAN: I can definitely relate to this statement, work-life balance and nurturing your creativity especially if you have other responsibilities. Since leaving NYC several years ago one of my biggest challenges is lack of inspiration from a creative community and I am looking to make a move this year. I tend to go in and out of concentrating on making music. I think the trick is to do your best make time and push yourself to pursue your creative endeavors even when you don’t really feel motivated. I always feel better when I sit down with my guitar whether I write something new or just rock out a bit. Another thing that has helped me is being part of a virtual community of songwriters called Songtown (modern technology has some upsides) and participating in workshops and co-writes as a way to keep me going. I don’t play out much these days (so am really excited about the upcoming GRGR show!) but I have learned some great techniques for songwriting even when you don’t feel inspired. I also participate in other creative activities, including sculpting, cooking and gardening, which help me keep in a creative flow.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.