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On my Sunday night drive in to work I was listening to my usual radio station: CBC 99.1.

On Sunday night, their usual fare has prominent Canadian music artists featured in “My Play List” where they play the songs that were most influential to them both before and after they entered the music industry.

Sylvia Tyson was the featured host.

At one point during the hour she surprised me by confessing to the airwaves that during the 1960’s she did not care much for the sound of Joan Baez’s singing voice. However, she stated that she wholeheartedly admired her for how Joan blazed a path for other women to enter the folk music industry.

It was at that point that I remembered back to when I first heard Joan Baez sing.

It was 1970, and living in Virginia. The song was Amazing Grace. Agreed, her voice struck me as unusual, but it was lovely nevertheless.

In the summer of 1971, my Mother purchased her first Joan Baez album, ‘David’s Album’ which was dedicated to her new husband which had been imprisoned in the early days of their marriage because he failed to respond to the draft notice which called upon him to fight in the Vietnam war.

That was my introduction into political cause and effect for the common person.

As a twelve year old girl, I was saddened by this story. However, I learned that there are those who will stand up for what they think is right even if it sends them to prison.

That summer I was also introduced to the music Carol King when my Mother purchased her album ‘Tapestry’.

Allow me to add one more name:

Aretha Franklin.

These three female singers had a strong voice which I believe left a positive lasting impression that their success did not include being beholden to any man.

First of all, they did not aspire to wonton love songs, nor did they want anyone to “Be My Baby”.

They told stories of life, of heartache and of unchaste love and the determination to be seen as equals.

Unlike the popular girl band songs of the 1950’s and 1960’s, these songs did not necessarily end with ‘happily ever afters’ or comply with ‘my one true love’ scenarios.

Thank you Joan, Carol and Aretha.

Your brave messages gave me the heads up that what popular media was trying to sell me, was in no uncertain terms…

Hazardous to my mental well being…

and that…

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

… Is a very important asset in the life of a woman who can think for herself.

Now tell me…

Of the upper echelon of current female pop divas, name one who can hold her own in the same way as the three I referred to above without using a sheer body suit, elaborate makeup and sexual references?

Not possible.

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