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Jane Doe Revue: Empowering Women Through Song

Above image: Sisters Violet and Tara Vonder Haar sing together at the Jane Doe Revue concert in Columbia last weekend. | photo: Amber Nichole Thiessen

Last year, a number of Columbia, Missouri’s finest female musicians took the stage at The Blue Note to raise their voices together in song. Originally intended to be a one-time event, the Jane Doe Revue concert drew more than 500 people and raised funds for Planned Parenthood. “Everyone involved became so charged, inspired and empowered by it, it was hard not to do it again in 2018,” said musician and event organizer Violet Vonder Haar. After a successful second annual hometown concert at The Blue Note last weekend, 18 of the 19 women are heading west to Kansas City and performing at recordBar this Saturday night. The show also serves as Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ annual PinkOut fundraiser event. “I’ve been playing in Kansas City with my personal project — Violet and the Undercurrents — for years, and we appreciate the respect, inclusivity and appreciation for both female musicians and the fine arts in the KC scene,” Vonder Haar said. “Since we have several friends and allies there, it just seemed like the right fit for giving Jane Doe Revue a test run on the road.” On Saturday at recordBar, Vonder Haar and her group — comprised of a rotating cast of guitarists, drummers, bassists and keyboardists; plus horn, string and backing vocalist sections (and this doesn’t even count the guest vocalists) — will chronicle the history of modern music through a female-focused lens. “I believe it is important to understand our history to give us a better respect and understanding of where we are and where we should be headed,” she said. Working its way backwards through six decades, the Jane Doe Revue’s 30-song playlist will celebrate the works of prolific songwriters like Carole King and Brandi Carlile, timeless voices like Aretha Franklin and Sharon Jones, and social justice warriors like Nina Simone and The Dixie Chicks. An assortment of local guest vocalists will join the group, including Rachel Mallin, Mikal Shapiro, Ivy Roots, Julie Berndsen and more. But the evening serves a far greater purpose than simply rehashing a collection of female-led songs. Part of Jane Doe Revue’s mission is to amplify the voices of women through the act of honoring those lauded in musical history. It’s about empowering performers and audience members, and cultivating a community strengthened by its solidarity. “Jane Doe Revue has shown us that we are stronger together, by lifting each other up and providing platforms for each other that haven’t been offered before,” Vonder Haar said. After last weekend’s show, an older woman involved with the Columbia event approached Vonder Haar with tears in her eyes, telling her how much the concert meant to her. “She remembered being a young musician and not being allowed to participate in jam sessions or be included in the lineup for shows because they would only allow ‘one chick’ per event,” Vonder Haar said. “It’s stories like this that are so important to hear.” Jane Doe Revue performs at PinkOut this Saturday night at recordBar. The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are available here. —Michelle Bacon writes about music for 90.9 The Bridge and plays bass and drums in bands. She’ll be a guest bassist at the Jane Doe Revue show this Saturday.