.WAV Festival to Celebrate Female Artists
The .WAV Festival celebrating women in arts will take place March 2-3 at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM@UCO) and its ACM Performance Lab in downtown Oklahoma City.
The free festival is being organized and run by members of ACM’s Womens Audio Vision (.WAV) student organization.
“I really like that we are adding in artists and dancers this year,” said Rozlyn Zora Melton, vice president and co-founder of .WAV.
Melton and a friend founded the organization last year as a safe place for women in the music industry to ask any questions, socialize or share any struggles they may be facing. According to Melton, really anyone is welcomed, including female and female-identifying members in the ACM community.
“I really enjoy that it’s a group where girls feel safe and we can just empower them,” Melton said. “It’s just another community inside the ACM community.”
According to Katie Carmichael, president of .WAV, the festival features three indoor stages at two venues, with most performances happening from 4-9 p.m. on March 2 and 2-8 p.m. on March 3.
“We have an acoustic stage that dancers will perform on, and most acoustic acts in that room during other times, a songwriting room with a full stage for larger acts and a gallery in the center showcasing UCO and community artwork done by women,” Carmichael said.
The festival showcases multiple genres and music acts performing grunge pop, Americana, blues, folk, singer-songwriter, rap, hip-hop and more. It will also lead into ACM’s Music Metro Series, with a special sold-out performance on the last day by acclaimed Chicago hip-hop and spoken-word rapper Noname.
This year’s lineup features The Annie Oakley, Lauryn Hardiman, Miillie Mesh, Ciara Brooke, Creeping Toms, Ramona & The Phantoms, Me Oh My, Jade Castle and Rozlyn Zora [Melton’s stage name],Miche’la Creel and more.
Those attending the festival will also be encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to donate to Sisu Youth Services, a local nonprofit organization that supports the homeless youth living in the community.
According to Carmichael, she found out about the nonprofit through Elecktra Stanislava, who performed at the festival last year and is involved in Sisu Youth Services.
“I wanted to do something local, I know this person, I trust this organization and I think this is something important.” Carmichael said.
Sarah Tierney, .WAV treasurer, has been in charge of of budgeting the festival, getting volunteers and going over contracts. Tierney said being a part of this organization has given her firsthand experience in putting events like these together, and also a safe place to speak her mind.
“It is a little like you walk into the room at ACM and you’re the only girl, or there are at least two other girls,” Tierney said. “So, it makes it uncomfortable sometimes to say what you believe and if you have a women’s issue.”
Lindsey Churchill, director of Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+ Student Center at UCO, said she agrees these types of organizations can really make an impact.
“I think organizations like these can provide a space for people to express themselves and find solidarity with others who may have similar experiences,” Churchill said.
She also said she believes that festivals like .WAV are a positive way to showcase talent that may not get exposure otherwise.
“Music festivals – whether it’s the line up, who is promoting or who works behind the scenes – have traditionally been male-dominated. For a long time, performance, because you have to “command” the stage, was seen as something men are supposed to do,” Churchill said. “Organizations who support or showcase women’s music challenge this idea and put women’s voices at the forefront.”
Churchill also said to this day, most festivals do not give equal exposure to female musicians, and she also believes that festivals need to be trans-inclusive.
“I really hope everyone comes out and supports us, and brings donations for Sisu; it’s really going to be a cool experience,” Tierney said.