Lilith Fair, the late 90s music festival phenomenon that showcased and promoted women in music, was concocted by Sarah MacLachlan, who was tired of venues constantly refusing to book multiple female musical acts. The first Lilith Fair took place in the summer of 1997 and the initial three years of the tour raised over $10 million for women’s charities across North America.
What started 15 years ago as a sisterhood among female musicians is now still a powerful message and a token of inspiration among women of the melodic persuasion.
What have the famous ladies of the Lilith Fair been up to lately?
Lilith Fair lasted three summers, from 1997 to 1999. Its first year made $16 million, making it the top-grossing touring festival. The resurgence of Lilith Fair in 2010 was unsuccessful; several dates were canceled and a handful of performers back out at the last minute. The hopes and expectations of reviving the feminist music festival was simply not met, and Sarah McLachlan declared in 2011 that the concept would not move forward in years to come.
The music scene was much different in the late 90s, and it may have been a bit of a lofty decision to revive a movement so essential to a past cultural generation. Although many acts, such as Indigo Girls, Erykah Badu and Sheryl Crow, were delightfully eager to revisit the tour in 2010, the attention among audiences had shifted to more modern performances from Janelle Monae, Tegan and Sara, and Gossip. The nostalgic, folky genres of the first Lilith Fair didn’t garner much following and many strong headliners, like Kelly Clarkson and Norah Jones, failed to show and therefore ticket sales dropped.
Despite the sea change in marketable musical over the past 15 years, the message that was born from Sarah McLachlan’s frustration and repackaged into an optimistic and positive setting for women in the industry still lives on. In fact, many of the new performers in 2010 were inspired by the Lilith Fair when they were young girls and could not have been happier to take the legendary stage.
Do you remember the Lilith Fair? Do you still keep up with the headliners?
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