At a time when women’s voices are being raised, Woman Walk The Line: How The Women of Country Music Changed Our Lives continues resonating. With recent appearances on SiriusXM’s Debatable, Emmy-nominated “Pickler & Ben,” Rolling Stone and Mojo, the collection of personal essays by 27 women of varying ages, races, occupations and orientations has won the prestigious Belmont Book Award. Presented on June 1 during the International Country Music Conference held annually at Belmont University, the conference is the foremost academic gathering devoted to country, roots and bluegrass music in the nation.
“I was startled and thrilled for all of the writers and the artists they celebrated,” editor and contributor Holly Gleason said of the news. “I know how academically accomplished those judges are, and it speaks volumes about the work each of these women did. How music impacts a life, changes a person or even empowers an individual is something we don’t pay enough attention to. At a time when #MeToo and TimesUp matters, this book – and the response to it — is proof that positive women do listen to women’s art, and find within that art a sense of strength, comfort, inspiration and validation. What’s amazing is how many men did, too.”
Named one of No Depression’s Top 10 Books of 2017 and a selection of Minneapolis’ Public Radio’s Rock & Roll Book club, Rolling Stone proclaimed, “There’s probably no better time for Woman Walk The Line… the groundbreakers continue to strike many chords,” Santa Fe New Mexican declared, “a sisterhood — even a whisper network — in the genre that predates #MeToo by decades,” and Britain’s MOJO offered, “The stylistic line from Maybelle Carter through Dolly Parton on up to Taylor Swift isn’t a straight on, and the intention of this absorbing anthology isn’t to pretend that it is…intimate, inspirational essays.”
Fixin’ To Write also put the anthology PASTE called “truly stunning” on their 2017 Books We Loved list with Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Misfit’s Manifesto, Marie Howe’s Magdalene, Sasha Steensen’s House of Deer,Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply, Jennifer Weiner’s Hungry Heart and Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.
“I think women’s art is never as respected as it should be,” Gleason continued. “That’s why this anthology was important to me. Ronni Lundy, who won the top James Beard Award, on the power of Hazel Dickens as a voice of protest and a woman in the 70s? A transgendered writer on Rosanne Cash seeing past the transition to embrace who was going to be as the embodiment of what her music held? Even 17-year old Taylor Swift on Brenda Lee illuminating superstardom as a true artist when she was a young girl? It adds up, and it says, ‘Hell, yeah, we’re here, and we don’t just matter, we manifest!’ This honor recognizes those things in such a profound way.”
As The New York Times wrote, “Each of the 27 essays focuses on the experience of when music was a savior, an inspiration or an acknowledgment of a deep and personal truth.” People seconded that notion with “A rhapsodic, moving look at music’s transformative power” and Oxford American offered, “an exploration of that liminal space between the artist’s intention and the listener’s reception.”
Part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Author Series, Gleason will be part of a panel in late July in Cleveland. In addition, dates are also being sorted out for a panel at the Country Music Hall of Fame this summer. After appearing at the Southern Festival of Books, the Miami Book Fair, a rogue South by Southwest panel, Woman Walk The Line has also gone to Texas State and the University of Florida.
Even noted memoirist Pamela Des Barres, known for I’m With The Band and Lets Spend The Night Together, enthused, “Awesomely important book.”
“It’s the writers and the way music shaped them,” Gleason explained. “It’s undeniable, and it reminds us how pivotal music is in our lives. In the rush of tech and the convenience of streaming, it’s easy to forget.
Full List of Essays and Authors below:
Maybelle Carter: The Root of It All by Caryn Rose
Lil Harden: That’s How I Got to Memphis by Alice Randall
Wanda Jackson: When She Starts Eruptin’ by Holly George-Warren
Hazel Dickens: The Plangent Bone by Ronni Lundy
June Carter Cash: Eulogy of a Mother Rosanne Cash
Brenda Lee: Rare Peer by Taylor Swift
Bobbi Gentry: Let the Mystery Be by Meredith Ochs
Loretta Lynn: The Pill by Madison Vain
Dolly Parton: Long Island Down Home Blues by Nancy Harrison
Emmylou Harris: Common Ground in an Uncommon Love by Ali Berlow
Barbara Mandrell: Lubbock in the Rearview Mirror by Shelby Morrison
Tanya Tucker: Punk Country and Sex Wide Open by Holly Gleason
Rita Coolidge: A Dark-Eyed Cherokee Country Gal by Kandia Crazy Horse
Linda Ronstadt: Canciones de Corazon Salvaje by Grace Potter
Rosanne Cash: Expectations and Letting Go by Deborah Sprague
The Judds: Comfort Far from Home by Courtney E. Smith
k.d. lang: Flawless, Fearless by Kelly McCartney
Lucinda Williams: Flesh & Ghosts, Dreams + Marrow by Lady Goodman
Mary Chapin Carpenter: Every Hometown Girl by Cynthia Sanz
Patty Loveless: Beyond What You Know by Wendy Pearl
Shania Twain: But the Little Girls Understand by Emily Yahr
Alison Krauss: Draw Your Own Map by Aubrie Sellers
Taylor Swift: Dancing on Her Own by Elysa Gardner
Kacey Musgraves: Follow Your Arrow by Dacey Orr
Rhiannon Giddens: A Gift Past the Songs by Caroline Randall Williams
Patty Griffin: Remembering to Breathe by Kim Ruehl
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