Rocio Rapoport - I Help Empower Women With Music




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Oct 18, 2018
by Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
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Rocio Rapoport - I Help Empower Women With Music

Musician discusses the Blazar Project and making women more visible in the music industry Rocio Rapoport at Salzburg Global Seminar - Rapoport started her career as a singer and main composer in rock and fusion bands, among other styles

“I was a feminist even before I knew I was a feminist… [because as a child] I didn’t know the word existed,” says Rocio Rapoport, an Argentinian musician specializing in experimental pop.

Women are undervalued in the music industry, says Rapoport, speaking as a participant of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. She puts this down to the “sustained power of men” in the industry with women enjoying very little or no visibility. “Women in history have done a lot of things, but they have not had the same level of visibility [as men],” Rapoport says forthrightly.

To tackle this issue, Rapoport cofounded Blazar in 2014. Taking its name inspiration from an astronomical phenomenon that produces a high energy force, she describes Blazar as “a communion of women artists with the goal of creating better opportunities for women in the music industry.” The collective is now made up of 12 musicians of diverse genres including rock, jazz, electronic music, experimental music, and Argentina’s folklore genre.

To ensure women gain more acknowledgment for their work, Blazar aims to get more women on and off the stage at music festivals. Although many festivals are attended by roughly an equal percentage of women and men or sometimes more women than men, the stage has eluded many female acts thus far. A BBC analysis of posters of the UK’s nine biggest music festivals found that 77% of the 756 acts advertised were male in 2018. Rapoport reckons the situation is no different in Argentina and the wider region of Latin America and Spain. Offstage, Blazar also hopes to help groom a cadre of women technicians, producers and festival organizers to ensure that there is gender equality in all aspects of the music business.

Another objective of Blazar is to help establish creative collaborations between and among female musicians. For many years, female musicians have been portrayed as rivals, forced into competition with each other for the limited space the music industry has carved out for them. Instead of pitching their music and personalities against each other, Rapoport and her commune of artists work on collaborations among themselves and with those outside the group. “We need to break that idea [that women cannot work together] … so that we can be more strong together, to achieve together...”

While many Latin American countries including, until recently Argentina, have had women at the apex of political leadership, a culture of “machismo” persists. “I love Cristina [Fernández de Kirchner],” Rapoport proclaims, “but so many people hate her for being a woman. They criticize how she dresses; they say ‘she talks too much.’ If it was a man that will not be important.” She also talks about the glass ceiling and the gender pay gap in the music industry.

The 33-year-old hopes that with her work with Blazar, she can help remove stereotypical notions of women and achieve greater rights for women. She has been prominent in the fight to legalize abortion in Argentina. So many women have died because they resorted to backstreet clinics and unsafe methods
to terminate pregnancies, she says. As such, Rapoport uses her music to speak out about women’s rights and advocate for social justice issues such as racism and LGBT rights.

Where does Rapoport hope to be in five years? She says, “I hope that Blazar will not really need to exist and thatthere will be no reason for me to make music to empower women."

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Arts Council Korea, Asia-Europe Foundation,  Bush Foundation, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Foundation Adelman pour l’Education, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, Korea Foundation, the Llewellyn Thompson Memorial Fellowship, Robert Bosch Stiftung, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, World Culture Open, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the program can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.