4 x 6 3/4î Handbill full of colors and an illustrated picture of a woman-like Goddess relaxing. White card stock. Tinies mark on bottom left edge, else near fine.
Sarah McLachlan and a rotating cast of fellow artists embarked on the women-centric traveling fest known as Lilith Fair. While the nostalgic view of the Nineties paints it as a decade where not just female-fronted, but female-populated acts surged on the pop and rock charts, Lilithís presence bucked music-industry norms that were still, quietly but firmly, directing radio playlists and tour routing. The venture was also a smashing success, becoming the top-grossing festival of 1997.
ìI guess it was a radical idea at the time, but I thought it was a good radical idea,î recalls Merchant, who co-headlined the 1998 tour. ìI remember when I started in the early Eighties, I was always the only girl in the room. Not just the musicians, but all of the tech people every time I went in the studio, record companies. As the Nineties progressed, I found that there were more and more women sound engineers and there were more women musicians ñ in my band, I had a female guitar player. It just felt like the Nineties was a time when there was a shift. I finally had an A&R person who was a woman. My lawyer was a woman. My publicist was a woman. I was consciously moving in that direction.î
Lilithís many acts, which for the most part rotated in and out over the course of the tour, were scattered over three stages, including a Village Stage that focused on up-and-coming and local artists. Having a woman-centric (but not woman-exclusive) space bucked music-business convention in a way that surprised observers. ìIt wasnít about exclusion,î says McLachlan. ì[Men would ask], ëWhy donít you have men on the tour?í And I said, ëWell, honey, we do. The bands are full of men, thereís lots of males in the crew. And weíre all having a good time, too.í Itís not exclusionary. Itís inclusive. Weíre just celebrating women.
ìThe other really awful question that we got often was, ëWhy do you hate men?í And I said, ëWhat does celebrating women have to do with hating men? That says way more about you and your ego than anything else.í But it was a question that got asked all the time, and it wasnít about that. Our mission is great music being made by women. Itís not being represented, so weíre filling that gap ñ and weíre having a great time doing it.î (Johnston, Martha in RollingStone July 2017).