Female pupils from Maesteg Comprehensive School were given the opportunity to speak out this March as part of Awen Cultural Trust’s International Women’s Day celebrations.
Working with West Wales Americana/Folk professional singer songwriter Lowri Evans, twelve pupils from across Years 8 and 12 joined forces to create a new song acknowledging the struggles faced by women over generations, whilst celebrating their strengths with hope for the future.
Part of this year’s Dr Richard Price tricentennial celebrations across Bridgend, an early advocate of equal rights for all, with support from Awen Heritage Officer, Stefanie Vanstokkom, pupils learnt about the rich history of the suffragettes in Maesteg, with both Sylvia Pankhurst and her mother Emmeline having held public meetings at the Town Hall in the early 1900s. The great moraliser and politician Richard Price, originally of Llangeinor also greatly influenced the writings of his friend Mary Wollstonecraft, considered the first feminist with the publication of her book ‘A vindication of the rights of women’ in 1792.
From this initial discussion of history came an exploration of female identities and experiences within the world today, with pupils able to share their own experiences and thoughts, all of which have been sown into the creation of rich lyrics, giving them a voice through music. With the younger pupils supporting Lowri vocally, the older pupils contribute instrumentally, having started their own band. The track itself was professionally recorded with the pupils at the school thanks to support from Cobra Music and will be released to the public over March.
A premiere performance of the song was due to take place at the school today for International Women’s Day but will be rescheduled due to the inclement weather. A free concert from Lowri Evans, which was due to take place at Maesteg Library this afternoon will also be rearranged.
Libby and Olivia, year 12 students at Maesteg Comprehensive talked about how exciting it was to work on the project and gain professional experience within music:
“I feel the lyrics are very sentimental for us as women, being able to sing them freely today without any judgement. They are as relevant for the suffragettes as they are for todays women. The fact that I have been able to sing and express how I personally feel as a woman about women’s rights is so important. Every woman recognises that women in society do struggle and if you listen to the song it gives a sense of empowerment – you can be and do whatever you want.”