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 Rejection & Oppression Became A Catalyst For Change
One early hot & sticky morning sitting around Mimi’s bar room in August 2012, Ramos was drinking with her musician comrades shooting pool and the conversation when she was introduced to a festival organizer from Mississippi hanging around them. Ramos began to talk with the organizer about an idea that milled around in her head. He was intrigued and so she pitched him, The Tomboy Festival, an all-women music rock & roll festival. “Why all-women, why only women”, he asked. Ramos went on to explain the women rock bands needed a platform and that she was a rock band and had been passed over in 2005, 2009, and 2011 by Jazz Festival and snubbed by French Quarter Festival from 2008-2012 after presenting a sponsor for both years, 2011 & 2012 and was fed up. When Ramos looked over the band booking ratio of women against men in general terms of festival bookings, it was clear that not only did men out rank women in all genres, but male rock bands outranked women rock bands by a 10 to 2 ratio. While the promoter thought it was interesting and a brilliant idea for an all-women rock festival, it fell to wayside as another 5 years past until the #Metoo movement gave birth and paved the way into the Women’s movement. This gave birth to the Women’s Marches around the world and the New Orleans Chapter. The New Orleans Women’s March 2017 saw 10, 000 women turn out for the first unprecedented march in New Orleans city history of marches. This is where Ramos joined forces with organizers and sang her song, “See”, retitled “See (Just What We’re Fighting For)” written by Ramos in 2003 and put on her original record released in 2004, Scoot Boogie Baby’s Lani Ramos. Ramos played and sang her song on acoustic guitar to a staggering audience at the March at Duncan Plaza in front of New Orleans city hall.
Continuing Ramos’ weekly gigs at Bamboula’s she met another festival producer from Alabama thru a musician friend. Without hesitation, Ramos pitched him her Tomboy Festival idea and he wanted to have a meeting the following week. When they met they discussed a name change due to the negative connotation that his female staffer felt over the idea of naming an all-women festival “Tomboy”. Ramos being flexible and wanting to work with a team decided to think about a different name. When they reconvened their meeting to discuss the name change the production group from Alabama decided the “Women Who Rock” Festival named seemed the most appropriate and logical of names. However, Ramos did not feel the same. It seemed rather ordinary for such a colorful city where Ramos has called home for 17 years at this juncture as a performing artist and citizen in doing business in New Orleans and living a French Quarter lifestyle. This name would have been great for Los Angeles, New York or Alabama but not for Ramos in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ramos came up with, The Rock & Rouge. It hit her like a bolt of lighting driving around in bug in the city. “It just made sense.” Women can be tough and strong but also strong and sweet. The production team did not care for the name and did not want to produce the festival under this name, so Ramos stepped in and became the producer and the artist for The Rock & Rouge Women’s Music & Food Festival & beyond. Ramos then established the Rock & Rouge Foundation, an empowerment non-profit for women’s prosperity locally and abroad and young girls higher education learning about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) through workshops at the festival and establishing a grant program for girls’ summer camps in STEAM with local organizations.
This is the story of the Rock & Rouge.