8 March 2017, International Women’s Day, Common Room
Strong Invincible had a solid mission: to fund raise for our local Women’s Refuge by showcasing some of Hawke’s Bay’s finest women performers, on International Women’s Day. A glass of local bubbles at the door, and paella-a-go-go for dinner sweetened us up for the acts, including a fun and cheeky impromptu wine auction. I was riveted as Ali Beal opened with a soul-honest rendering of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Woman is the Nigger of the World. Following this up with her infamous wit and saunter, Ali held the night in a space where we, audience and performers alike, were at once consciously aware of the event’s theme and attentive yet relaxed.
From this place I was treated to some of my favourite women in Hawke’s Bay, including poets Bridget Freeman-Rock and Emily Hunter, storytellers Mary Kippenberger and Robyn Hewetson, and the gorgeous songstress Margot Wuts. This already awesome list of performers was joined by Jess Atkin, Chrissy Atkinson, Beatrix Wuts, Jane Pierard, Anissa Talbi-Dobson, Rosie Langabeer and Julia Morris, accompanied by masterful musicians, Jason Johnston and Dan Fulton.
It is difficult to single out the stand out performances, as the scope of genre was so generous but I was blown away by Jess Atkin’s gravel and verve and Jane Pierard’s polished offerings. Rosie Langabeer’s emotive treatment of Sia’s Chandelier and the moving lyrics and sweet-sorrow sounds of Victoria Vigneseur and her Appalachian dulcimer brought a deep gratitude to the audience. Ending the night with perfect exclamation was Anissa Talbi-Dobson’s embodiment of Erykah Badu’s Tyrone.
Each performance of song, story, poem or prose unfolded with a generosity of spirit that had me utterly endeared to the performer, and to the occasion, raising awareness in our community of the women and children in our midst living with domestic violence.
Strong Invincible absolutely met its mission. While the audience donated their dollars (over $3500 worth!), the eclectic band of musicians, performers and open-hearted hosts, gifted back an experience of sweetly encased and thoughtfully offered grit. This event was not only a showcase of their talent and generosity but a lived example of creative solidarity.