The Velvet Underground's classic song "Rock & Roll" tells a story of a 5-year-old girl falling in love with the music coming from her radio: Young Susie, whose life was changed by rock 'n' roll. This week, the tale will resonate deeply with a group of Dallas-area girls. Girls Rock Dallas is an annual day camp for girls ages 8 to 17 that teaches music theory, music history, self-defense and self-esteem. Since this Tuesday, 47 Dallas campers (substantial growth from last year's group of 29) have formed nine bands under the instruction of local musicians, including Salt N Pepa's DJ Spinderella. Tomorrow, they will strut their stuff on the stage of Oak Cliff's legendary Kessler Theater at the annual showcase.
"I got a phone call, and you know, Spin love the kids, so ..." says DJ Spinderella, who moved to the Dallas metro area two years ago. "Of that direction, thank God, I found something to inspire me. If music is an area of interest to these young girls, I think it could do a lot for them in their lives, like it did for me."
In the hours before her first day of camp, DJ Spinderella explained her plan of action for inspiring and motivating her campers.
"I'm going to introduce myself and explain my rise, and my story, how music saved my life. I started doing this from an early age -- joining Salt N Pepa at such a young age opened my eyes to so many incredible experiences. But you have to know how to decipher the negative from the positive. It's still a male-dominated field, but look at the women who have come before and made it happen. Look at the women who are doing it now, they're expressing themselves and that's a beautiful thing," she says. She's also gotten into the Dallas scene, becoming a fan of Nee Taylor and DJ Jay Clipp since becoming a local.
"We always try to showcase as many different genres as we can. Hip-hop is very important, especially in the Dallas community," says Girls Rock Dallas Executive Director Rachel Michaud. She was also responsible for bringing Snow Tha Product to a previous Girls Rock Dallas.
For this organization, music education runs deeper than records. Teaching young girls the history of the music they love is a huge part of the Girls Rock curriculum.
"We have a women in rock history class, where the girls get to learn about the different women who have shaped the music industry as we know it today. [The class] goes as far back as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton, taking that and applying it to artists of today like Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. We want to show the girls how artists of today were influenced by those women who have come before them," Michaud says.
If you're free this Saturday, and you feel compelled to be moved by the power of music education, Girls Rock Dallas' showcase is the place to be.