by Jill Finkelson
Deb Jenkins returns for a 23rd year of celebrating Fargo’s Women- and their music. The story is old news now, Deb tells me over the phone as I ask her- how did this start? 23 years ago, she was working at a little cafe in downtown fargo and she asked if she could bring in some musicians. Obviously, Fargo delivered. There are so many women making great music and producing art-- the next step was bringing them all together. This was the same time Sarah McLachlan was doing the Lilith Fair and touring. Inspired by a show featuring only women, she thought to put together her own celebration of women. The Lilith Fair burned out but our celebration lives on here in Fargo.
She called around town and Margie Bailey of the Fargo Theatre didn’t just say “we’ll think about it.” She said, come on down. She was really excited about it and the Celebration started its life in the Fargo Theatre. And there it stayed for twenty years. Two years ago, they moved to the FM Community Theatre. This year, the show will be particularly intimate in the Spirit Room downtown. The show has had other performances at venues around town like the Hodo and Sidestreet. It’s really a community effort to give space and time to the musicians.
The show has had big years and not-so-big years. Sometimes they turned people away at the Fargo theatre and others felt empty. But the women and their music continues. Some of the performers have performed every year and some are brand new. While our local talent stands out, performers have come from around the country throughout the years. On inviting people to perform, she says she’s looking to speak with the artist themself. If you have to go through three people before you can speak with them, it’s probably not what she’s looking for. Years ago, she found a fantastic artist on MySpace and just sent her a pm. The message really resonated everywhere.
The goal is not to just put on a show but to give back to the community in a big way. Donors and supporters from all over have chipped in just for the idea of the show. And that matters. This year, ten young women from right here are winners. The awards are for talent, dedication and hard work they have put into their craft. In recent years, they opened up submissions to all high school-aged girls. You can go on the website and read their own words. They have gone on to become musicians and artists around the country and studied and honed their craft. Some went onto study at prestigious schools. Because of the inspiration and connections found right here in Fargo. The award winners are not just musicians. Young women who paint and dance are recognized. There are classical musicians and folk singers. The common bond is hungry young women pursuing artistic expression. She has found a huge amount of community support from local businesses and people. Venues and businesses provide space and sponsor artists to perform.
It’s really a magical and connecting experience. Women who wouldn’t have met otherwise found friendship, connection and some continue to perform with each other. Deb talks lovingly of the women finding each other and singing and playing together for magical results.
She recounts a question she was asked in the last few years- how is this still relevant? Deb believes in the event and its impact on the community for as long as people will come. The choice of making and exhibiting art is a courageous choice. It is still relevant to make space and opportunity for young artists and performers. They get a chance to perform and connect. Further, there is the inspiration of people making their lives creating.
The main event in the Spirit Room is preceded by a vip get-together with food and drink and the opportunity to meet the award winners and performers. Everyone will have stage time to perform or speak. Fortunately, there’s not just one but several shows to attend. Thursday night at the Hodo and a few on Friday scattered around town. Returning talent Jessica Vines at the Sidestreet shouldn’t be missed. Peggy Bartunek will be at the Hodo and Jessie Veeder Scofield will be at the Spirit Room. They line up so if you’re looking for a night out Friday, there will be music from 6:30 to past ten. After the show on Saturday, Deb will perform herself at the Aquarium with the Pat Lenertz band, a big supporter of the Celebration. If you want to attend the Saturday show at the Spirit Room, or even better, the VIP party, buy your tickets right away. Whether you go to one show, or all of them, it’s a Celebration of Women this week in Fargo and you can’t go wrong.
2020 Award Winners:
Abagail Berg- Flute- Davies
McKenna Brey- vocals - Davies
Rachel Craig- Percussionist - Moorhead
Janey Hudson - vocals- guitar - Fargo South
Madison Hokstad - Flute - Fargo South
Marisa Pace - Dance - IQ Academy of MN
Marissa Philipp-visual Art- Sheyenne
Sydney Quibell- vocal- guitar -Fargo South
Emily Thaden-Visual Arts -Hawley
Faith Weibye vocal- singer songwriter -Sheyenne
Celebration of Women and Their Music 2020 music line up:
Host Pat Lenertz Band & Celebration of Women Guest Artist
Thursday, January, 16, 8-11 pm
HoDo, 101 N Broadway, Fargo21 and over, No cover
Nita Velo and Jessie Veeder Scofield
Friday, January 17th, 6:30-8 pm
Spirit Room, 111 Broadway, Fargo
$5, All ages
Peggy Bartunek and Guest
Friday January 17, 8-11PM
HoDo 101 Broadway, Fargo
21 and over, No cover
Jessica Vines Band
Friday, January 17, 10 pm- close
Side Street 404 4th Ave N, Fargo21 and over, No cover
Saturday, January 18th, 4:30- 6 pm
The Spirit Room, 111 N Broadway, Fargo
Meet the award winners enjoy appetizers and beverages, $20 general admission
23nd Annual Celebration of Women and Their Music
Saturday, January 18, 6:30- 9:30 pm
The Spirit Room, 111 N Broadway, Fargo
Featuring the talents of:
Hot Lunch (Fargo, ND)
Kris Kitko (Bismarck, ND)
Taylor Paige ( Detroit Lakes, MN)
Jessie Veeder Scofield (Watford City, ND)
Viotti String Quartet ( Fargo, ND- Moorhead, MN)
Celebration of Women and Their Music Post Show
Saturday, January 18, 10 pm- 1 am
Aquarium Downtown Fargo, 226 N Broadway, Fargo
21 and over, $5 cover
Featuring the talents of Pat Lenertz Band and Deb Jenkins
February 19th 2020
February 12th 2020
January 29th 2020
January 15th 2020
December 23rd 2019
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