The Back Story
The Rock & Rouge Women’s Music & Food Festival & beyond
“On January 21, 2017 in New Orleans, women met at Washington Square Park to march for justice and gender equality. Women took to the streets of our Crescent City making history with nearly 10,000 marchers walking through the French Quarters. The New Orleans Women’s March organizers led thousands of people to Duncan Plaza at City Hall into history. There, councilwoman-at-large, now mayor-elect, Ms. LaToya Cantrell, gave her momentous “You have got me fired up” speech (as seen in the video below). This inspired Lani Ramos, a New Orleans based artist/producer, to produce the inaugural and first ever women’s Rock & Roll festival called The Rock & Rouge Women’s Music & Food Festival & beyond. This was our answer to the question of what are the “next steps” upon conclusion of the Women’s March.”
Ramos, otherwise known to some as Big Pearl, partnered with Women’s March organizers, and has a historical partnership with the New Orleans Women’s March Organization. As seen here in the music video from 2017 Ramos has gone from performing artist to one of the organizers to now producer of the women’s Rock & Rouge festival. “See (Just What We’re Fighting For)” became part of the soundtrack for the march, as Ramos performed the song live during the first New Orleans Women’s March last year in 2017 to 10,000 marchers and again in 2018. In 2017, a then councilwoman-at-large, now mayor-elect, LaToya Cantrell is seen here giving her famous, “You have got me fired up” speech.
You better believe New Orleans women are standing up for change in a seemingly louder and larger than life fashion, and now, our fellow men and allies are responding and representing.
Women are reaching out, lifting up and taking off their gag orders in support of each other against abuse and demoralization, like in the #MeToo movement. The Women’s Marchers are breaking down barriers in business, politics and much more like never before. With a new field of dreams awaiting our young girls in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs, our empowerment lies in our own community’s programs that can help develop and shape our next generations. Now, women are at the forefront of community movements locally, nationally, and internationally. The 1st Annual Rock & Rouge Women’s Music & Food Festival & beyond would become one of the answers into a sea of questions with what are the “Next Steps” post-march. It was Lani Ramos, an artist and producer who played an original composition simply titled, “See” that turned into the “Next Steps” in producing the empowerment women’s event at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint.
Ramos wants to ensure a more promising female-to-male ratio at every level in the future for the empowerment of women in our community. This is one reason why Ramos created the festival and reached out to four organizers from the New Orleans Women’s March organization and asked them if they would join the Rock & Rouge team. The Rock & Rouge is not a man-bashing event, but quite the contrary. It is instead inviting men to come see women as powerful role models and as equals in the playing field of male-dominated careers and as beautiful and educated women. With the festival’s launch also comes the Rock & Rouge Foundation, aimed at supporting young women with a future in STEAM college courses and careers. Lani Ramos is a New Orleans native musician and community leader in the field of entertainment for over 18 years and founder of Big Pearl Music, LLC (2009) in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ramos will host The Rock & Rouge on June 30th, 2018 and present female entrepreneurs leading the change in today’s public sphere in historic fashion at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. This will be a women’s festival unlike no other and has already been compared to the fantastically successful “Lilith Fair”. 2018 is the year for women in New Orleans – and everywhere!- and it’s about time.
The Rock & Rouge main stage lineup consists of “Women Who Rock“, additionally, the festival will feature:
- Tomboy Tent (ages 8-15) – STEAM workshops for young girls headed up by ElectricGirls.org founder, Flor Serna, a performance stage for junior female-led bands, drum workshops, and other activites
- What’s Next (Panels) – Women empowerment panel discussions on STEAM, polictics, and the future of women in music and tribute to Mardi Gras queens – including women in power from local Krewes & Social Clubs.
- Female Chef (Vendors) – food stands serving up delicious dishes from local female chefs
- Shine On (Beauty Counters) – an onsite salon with an emphasis on beauty from the inside out
- Not Yo Faddah’s Festival (The Dugout) – Cigars, Ale and horseshoes and a Happy Father’s Day.
- WHIV-LP 102.3FM New Orleans local public radio station live broadcast day of festival
How A Crawfish Boil Became Another Catalyst For Change
One balmy afternoon, an ordinary New Orleans food festival inspired a radical, and much needed, change.
It was April, and the crawfish were poppin’. People came from miles around to taste their favorite old school dishes and sample something new. But they didn’t just come for the mudbugs. They came to sit back, enjoy a cold drink, and listen to over two dozen bands play rockin’ tunes.
One attendee, a woman with a big voice and bigger personality, was a professional rockstar herself. She took the day off to relax, take in some rays, and enjoy some tunes. She eased down onto a warm metal bench, letting the breeze cool her off the best it could, glanced at her plate, and then at the lineup. She adjusted her sunglasses and took a second look. Her blood pressure began to rise.
Something was missing. Something that’s commonly missing but surely couldn’t be this year, not in 2017! Of the 25 bands playing, only one was fronted by a female musician. From Frenchman to Bourbon Street, male-fronted bands are booked over female fronted bands 8 out of 10 times in New Orleans. It’s even narrower in the brass and funktown genres. This festival was no different.
She decided 2018 would be the year that that ratio changed, and that she would play a lead role in fostering that change.