By Ashleigh Nix ’10
On September 11, Converse College hosted the Indigo Girls, one of the most popular folk/rock duos and also one of the most politically and socially active groups, during a forum about music and social activism. The duo (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) were included on a panel of seven who fielded questions from the Converse community in Daniel Recital Hall.
Ray and Saliers met in high school and began performing together a few years later. Since the early 1980s, they have shown their political and social activism through their music.
“ inspire me in that even though I may be out there and may be expressing my opinions that people don’t like, I can still survive it and still come out on top. It’s one of those things where it just makes you feel all bubbly inside,” said Ash Smith ’08.
Along with Ray and Saliers on the panel were Kiya Heartwood and Miriam Davidson, members of the folk rock duo, Wishing Chair; Meg Barnhouse, minister and musician at the Unitarian Universalist of Spartanburg; Dr. Elizabeth York, Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Chair of Converse’s Music Education and Music Therapy program; and Dr. Anne Lipe, Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Converse.
The forum was the brainchild of Gwen Stembridge ’10 of Atlanta, Georgia who took on the initiative for bringing the Indigo Girls to Converse. She feels that they are a positive influence on how individuals can express themselves both politically and socially, and wanted to share that with the Converse community.
“My dad always taught me that not everything I learned in college would be academic and I’ve come to find that to be very true. The Indigo Girls prove this very point because their music taught me how to express myself in many social and political aspects,” said Stembridge.
Throughout the forum, Ray and Saliers shared their experiences about their care for the environment that evolved from an Earth Day Concert. From the concert that inspired their assistance in the establishment of Honor the Earth, an organization in supporting education for Native environmental issues. In addition, they talked about their collaboration of music and activism through expressing their views on various issues going on today. “Our music has grown only because our activism has shown. We can’t separate music and activism; they have to work together,” said Ray.
Ray and Saliers emphasized that anyone should be able to express their political views, especially through music. Working on one issue at a time, their ideas originate from issues that they are extremely passionate about.