Pensacola, Florida
Thursday December 14th 2017

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‘Shut Up and Listen’

By Jennie McKeon

Four years ago, Melody Davis got the idea to host a female-centric music festival.

“We just started testing the waters and then all of these women came out of nowhere,” Davis said.

That idea has expanded into what is known as Ladyfest, a celebration of women in the arts. This year, the show is aptly titled Ladyfest 4(ever).

Davis is one-half of the rap duo Cookies and Cake alongside Ashley Faulkner. When they started the group, she said there were times when it was difficult to be taken seriously.

“I had just moved back from Georgia and noticed a lot of hip hop performers were misogynistic,” she said. “It was a dude atmosphere. Paul, P Funk, wrote some beats and me and Ashley wrote the raps.”

Davis and Faulkner wrote their lyrics in response to the misogyny they heard from their male counterparts focusing on issues such as body positivity and the importance of consent.

“It was very nerve-wracking in the beginning,” Davis said. “Some shows, the guys would be talking while we were on stage. That’s when I’d get loud and start projecting my words.”

That’s the kind of confidence Davis wants other female performers to have, which is why she’s giving them the stage all to themselves.

“I want women to feel like that at every show,” Davis said. “I want women to feel more empowered to project themselves. People need to shut up and listen.”

Bands led by females are often overlooked, Davis said. Ladyfest gives them the spotlight. All of the acts are led by or feature performers who are female or identify as female.

In years past, Ladyfest has had more than musicians, including acts like belly dancers, DJs and poets. This year, a female-led metal band will be taking the stage, which Davis is personally excited for. Some of the acts have never even performed in front of a live audience.

“Our first year, we had a 19-year-old girl who had only played music in her bedroom,” Davis said. “After her performance, she was booked for other gigs. It was really nice to see that. One girl was a hairstylist who also played the ukulele. She got up and played three songs and that was it.”

“I want women to get on stage,” Davis added. “It doesn’t matter to me… heck even if you can’t play you can get up there and make some noise.”

Not only does the show benefit aspiring female talents, but it also benefits a local cause. All proceeds from the show will benefit Strive (Social Trans Initiative), a local non-profit dedicated toward advocating for the transgender community in the Pensacola area. You can also knock a dollar off the cover charge by bringing a canned food item for Food Not Bombs.

Alongside the music are jewelry and crafts by female talents such as Keep Away From Cats Jewelry, FantasyD!, Melany O, Nicole Bowman and Ashley Simmons.

The vintage shop Saturn Collection will also be holding a raffle to win $100 at their shop. All proceeds will benefit FavorHouse, which is a domestic violence center serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, providing immediate assistance and long-term help for victims of abuse.

And this year, Ladyfest will also be at a new, female-owned venue, Chizuko.

Owners Jessica Laws and Daisy Doyle said they’re excited to support the cause and “spread some girl power.”

“Ladyfest is the perfect fit for Chizuko because we love to host events that benefit the community and we are stoked that Melody chose to give the proceeds to Strive,” said Laws. “We also love that we get to be a platform for women to be able to express themselves.”

As female business owners, Laws said it’s important to empower and encourage other women’s successes.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without support from the bad ass women in our lives,” she added.

Davis said she likes the opportunity to prove people wrong.

“I remember one show when a guy said, ‘Wow, that’s really great.’ He thought we were just going to stand around the stage and giggle,” she said. “We want to expose audiences to great music, expose people to new bands.”

While the talent is lady-centric, all ages and genders are welcome to enjoy the show.

“Everyone is always welcome. It doesn’t matter your gender,” Davis said. “Just bring a good attitude.”

LADYFEST 4(EVER)
WHEN: 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2
WHERE: Chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $5 ($4 if you bring a canned food item)
DETAILS: facebook.com/chizukopensacola

Ladyfest lineup (in no particular order)
DJ BABY GUANO
Cookies and Cake
Dee & The Domestics
Future Hate
Cyster Sister
Lights With Fire
Peace