Folk artist performs in support of women’s studies major

Ally Melling

Singer Deidre McCalla finished off the night with her folk songs as part of the Women’s Studies Program’s promotion for a women’s studies major last night in the Kiva. ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Civil rights in states such as South Dakota and Ohio are currently backsliding, feminist folk singer Deidre McCalla said.

McCalla spoke and performed last night in the Kiva about how American women need to be more aware of what they could lose. McCalla visited campus as part of a promotional event supporting the creation of a women’s studies major at Kent State.

“We’ve come too far,” McCalla said, as she started to strum on her acoustic guitar, “for us to stand where we do today. Ideas had to be changed, and people had to struggle. We’ve come too far for this.”

McCalla has become a recognized artist throughout the nation with a career spanning five albums. Her acoustic sound and political lyrics have been described as “an eclectic blend of folk, rock, country and pop,” according to her Web site.

Martha Cutter, English department associate professor, and her feminist theory class created and organized the event.

“We started it as a class project,” Cutter said. “Feminist theory is supposed to connect action of some sort, and we decided to focus on making a feminist major. Right now Kent only offers a feminist theory minor.”

Cutter spoke to a group of a dozen people who gathered with McCalla in the Music Listening Center before her nighttime show. Students also shared their take on the need for the major.

“If there were a women’s studies major, I would major in it,” senior English major Bridgit McCafferty said. “That’s my life anyway.

“Kent State is depriving undergraduate student women from voicing what they feel and a sense of community. You don’t commit yourself to a minor the way you do to a major. That community is so important. It is important and inspiring for women to understand what has come in the past before making changes today.”

McCalla played a handful of songs between the speakers, while sporadically commenting on their topics.

“Conservative religious groups are very organized, usually more organized than the progressives tend to be,” McCalla said. “Many people are claiming to speak for God, like they have a direct line. This is for them.”

McCalla then began an original work titled “If God Only Knew,” which included the lyric: “If God only knew what’s being done in her name, she’d realize the humans have all gone insane.”

McCalla said the only negative feedback she received from the song was that she referred to God as a woman.

McCalla told her audience that she released her first album at age 19 while attending Vassar College. She debuted her last record, Playing for Keeps, at a Kent State show in 2003.

“When I drove to Kent in 2003, I got close to the city and started crying,” McCalla said. “Kent is the symbolic focal point of activism. At the time, we thought we could change the world, and then we saw we could get killed in the process.”

Today, McCalla resides with her son near Atlanta and is a co-founder of FamilyPride of the South, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families. However, McCalla said she will travel anywhere for her love of music and her belief in civil rights.

Contact on campus entertainment reporter Ally Melling at [email protected]