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A Women's Studies Newsletter
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY 42101-3576
Vol.2 No.2 May 1998

Singing out women's history

Performer Gerri Gribi helped the Women's Studies Program celebrate Women's History Month on March 5 by filling the Fine Arts Center with laughter, beautiful folk music, and her clear voice echoing songs about women's struggles and victories throughout history.

Gribi has done extensive research to create "A Musical Romp through Women's History," which included "lost" songs of the past about strong, productive, and creative women. She sang about topics such as the women's suffrage movement, black women's fight against slavery, and the struggles of women union workers and labor reformers from cotton mills to the coal mines of Appalachia.

Gribi also included some of her original songs. A former Kentucky resident, Gribi expressed her love for the state in her song "The Hills of Kentucky." Gribi wrote the song after moving to Wisconsin. During her first winter there, she became very tired of the cold and the snow. Her husband suggested she write a song about her first winter in Wisconsin to brighten her spirits, but instead she imagined the beautiful hills of Kentucky in the springtime. She began her song with, "I wish I could fly to the hills of Kentucky." This was just one of the stories that Gribi told, but it was one that touched the hearts of many.

Gribi's program was as humorous and entertaining as it was educational and enlightening. The audience was singing along to songs that some had heard in early childhood, but Gribi's lyrics added a new twist to the old tunes. Through her encouragement of audience participation and her humorous storytelling, Gribi created a sense of enjoyment and unity among the audience. Dawn Long, A WS minor, commended the comfort level Gribi created: "By putting her audience at ease, she led the people to the setting of the songs, and I was able to focus on the actual words in the songs and her true message."

Gribi's performance would not have been complete without her yodeling lesson. She had the entire audience belting out sounds that were supposed to created a song. Even if she did not succeed in teaching her listeners to yodel, she certainly had them laughing.

In addition to her performance, Gribi talked with students in Kathryn Abbott's Women's History class. She discussed important women in history and the traditional roles that women have had to fight against. Gribi's message of picking up where the women in history left off was also expressed in the classroom.

Gribi also shared her talents with the community, performing at Bowling Green Girls Inc. Gribi allowed the girls to play with her instruments, and she sang interactive children's songs. She talked about the importance of music in education and the fulfillment she received from having the chance to influence the girls at the Girls Inc. and the women at Western.

Gribi referred to her singing as "giving a voice to all of the women in history," and that voice was spread across Bowling Green.

Gribi not only taught us about women's history, but she also made us realize that we have the power and the responsibility to create our own history today.

Amy Renigar is a Psychology major and a Women's Studies minor.

Gerri Gribi's Homepage // Womens Studies & Folk Resources // Catalog // Lyrics // Concerts // Press Kit //