A major new season at the Royal Albert Hall will celebrate the role of women in the venue’s storied history, featuring historical talks, comedy, music – and an all-female line-up. The scene of more than 20 Suffragette rallies, 100 years of Women’s Institute meetings and Janis Joplin’s only solo show in England will play host to an eclectic programme from January to April 2018, examining the roles of women in Britain: past, present and future.
Among the highlights of Women and the Hall will be a screening of the film Suffragette – with a panel including producers Alison Owen and Faye Ward, director Sarah Gavron, Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer and activist Helen Pankhurst – a live episode of the acclaimed Guilty Feminist podcast, and a Hall debut for hotly-tipped singer-songwriter Ayanna Witter-Johnson, as the venue provides a platform for distinctive contemporary voices.
Lucy Noble, Artistic Director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “The Hall has been at the centre of British cultural life for nearly 150 years, and in that time has played host to an extraordinary number of remarkable women, whose talent, determination and vision has helped to shape the country – and the world – as we know it.
“On the centenary of the Representation Of The People Act, we want to mark that legacy, engage with the critical issues facing women in Britain today, and look to the future, celebrating the artistry and creative energy of up-and-coming female voices in music, and – through our Industry Insights event – helping them forge a path through an industry that's unequal, male-dominated, and contains particular and ongoing challenges for women.”
Industry Insights – Women in Music, a free networking event for women aged 18-25 with an interest in the music industry, will feature a panel discussion with Lucy and other industry heavyweights, including agents Emma Banks and Lucy Dickins, Decca Records president Rebecca Allen, and Maggie Crowe of the British Phonographic Industry. Lucy will also host a similar event at the International Live Music Conference in March 2018.
Other events in the season include a special performance of cult spoken word event, That’s What She Said, on the eve of International Women's Day and featuring writers Bidisha, Lisa Luxx, Sophia Walker and Sabrina Mahfouz, and a new archive exhibition looking at the extraordinary women who have performed, attended or worked at the Hall during its 147-year history.
Meanwhile, a unique talk will focus on the Women’s Institute, past, present and future, as former president and archivist Anne Stamper reveals the organisation’s remarkable history and its special relationship with the Hall, national chair Lynne Stubbings talks about the WI in the modern day, and Daisy Cooney of the Shoreditch Sisters chapter discusses what it can do to remain relevant.
And the Hall’s regular Late Night Jazz, Live Music Brunch and Classical Coffee Mornings strands will all be given over to spotlighting female performers.
Rising star Emma-Jean Thackray will bring her unique sound – of trumpet and flugel horn playing allied to wonky beats – to Late Night Jazz, with other series headliners including Nerija, whose mix of classic jazz, afrobeat and hip hop influences saw them crowned Newcomer of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and Vula Viel, whose use of the Ghanian Gyil creates an entrancing world music-infused sound that has drawn raves from the likes of Iggy Pop and Gilles Peterson.
At Live Music Brunch, Deelee Dubé – winner of the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition – will perform Vaughan’s signature songs, recognising the singer’s celebrated shows at the Hall in the 1950s. The Senior Girls’ Choir from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain will present a programme of music by female composers, as part of Classical Coffee Mornings.
Family audiences can enjoy Jazz for Kids, as the Hall’s in-house group, Albert’s Band, explore songs by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Diana Krall, while a free workshop for primary school children will examine the Hall’s role in both the Suffragette and Suffragist movements, climaxing with a fun tour to bring the history to life.