In celebration of “Make Music Day,” Guitar Center and She Shreds Magazine partnered to highlight the voices and artistry of five guitarists across diverse genres. The artists included Francesca Simone (Beyoncé, Kehlani), Yvette Young (Covet), Yuna (solo artist), Cecilia Della Peruti (Gothic Tropic) and Lydia Night (The Regrettes). A panel discussion was led by She Shreds Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Fabi Reyna at Guitar Center’s Hollywood location on Thursday, June 20, 2019. The panelists shared their transformative musical journeys, the evolution and trends of the music industry, and advice to empower aspiring musicians.
The evening began with Jeannine D’Addario, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Guitar Center, welcoming the crowd and highlighting the importance of the evening’s discussion: “We want to have this dialog with She Shreds and this array of impressive artists to give rise to all voices, to celebrate music makers, and encourage all those who want to play and put music in the world to do so. Let’s become an industry that values and celebrates that, regardless of gender.”
D’Addario then introduced panel moderator Fabi Reyna, who thanked Guitar Center for providing a platform to discuss this important shift in the music industry: “I'd like to say that this is a space that is safe and inviting to all musical expressions, language, identities, and abilities,” stated Reyna. She continued on to further set the tone for the evening’s discussion, “There's no preconceived expectation or assumption on talking about gear, or playing guitar, or what being a musician looks and sounds like.”
Reyna then introduced the panel and began the evening’s conversation where the artists discussed various topics unique to women in music, including their early experiences being inspired by women performers, their responsibility to serve as role models for the next generation, the ways in which women in the industry can and should support one another, as well as the importance of roles for women in the music industry beyond performing. The evening’s discussion also focused on topics, such as guitar techniques, gear, culture and ethnic representation, and how we can all participate in making positive change for musicians.
Several of the panelists talked about the early influences that got them hooked on becoming musicians. Lydia Night singled out the experience of attending a concert by The Donnas with her dad on her fifth birthday and the profound effect it had on her. She recalled, “The Donnas are just this badass group of women who make really cool music. Seeing them on a stage, that was something I’d never seen, only women doing it, and I thought that was so cool and was instantly obsessed and had the reaction, “Oh, I need to do that. That's going to be me.”
Francesca Simone stressed the importance of early education: “It’s all about education and opportunities. It’s so important to give girls the option to be in music, and science and all these other fields. If you’re told from a young age that girls don’t do a certain thing, then you won’t know any better. But if you have those opportunities, you can dive into it and be part of it. A lot of where I am comes from opportunities that I was lucky to have, where I know other girls might not have had those options.”
A significant portion of the evening addressed the topic of gender inclusion where the panelists expressed their personal views on the topic and how it has affected them and the industry at large. When discussing the term that is often used in the media, “Best Women Guitarist,” Yvette Young seemed to sum it up best: “Nobody should have to categorize and put someone in a box, just based on their gender, based on their race, based on whatever. What about Best Guitarist? Because at the end of the day, good music is good music. And who you are, what you look like, that doesn't matter. Close your eyes and just listen.”