Girls Rock! Seattle Summer Camp Showcase, July 31 at Neumos, provides a stage for girls and young women eyeing a future in music.
For her first time onstage, she rocked out to a song about ducks.
“Waddle waddle waddle splash/ Waddle waddle waddle crash/ It’s ducks!”
Next Saturday at Neumos, 10-year-old Ry Dozier-Lerum will be at it again. Along with 83 other girls, she’ll play a showcase for Girls Rock! Seattle, a music camp for girls 8 to 16. Except this time, Ry will be a veteran — it’s her second year at camp.
“I personally think I had the funniest song,” said Dozier-Lerum, about last year’s performance.
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Girls Rock! Seattle starts Monday and runs through Friday at Billings Middle School in Greenlake. Besides music classes, the day camp features workshops on stage presence, zine making, jewelry, self-defense and the history of women in music. The girls also form bands and write songs to play at the showcase.
“The camp is really more about learning to play,” said Raine Dozier, Ry’s mother, who is thankful for the camp. “Middle-school years are when you see girls take a dive with self esteem.”
The blue-haired fifth-grader added: “There’s a bit of girl in me, but I admire tomboys more. They’re tougher. That’s what I want to be.” She’s into Patti Smith at the moment.
Ry was tenacious about learning music, according to her mother. She banged and then broke a piano, trying to learn a classical piece, before lessons.
“It was very painful for all of us,” said Dozier, a professor at Western Washington University.
Since then, Ry has taken up piano formally and is planning on learning guitar at camp.
Artists Natalie Walker and Holly Houser created the Seattle camp two years ago, and registration doubled this year. There are around 40 Girls Rock! nonprofit camps around the world, first established in Portland in 2001. The local program costs $350 for a week, but over half the students get financial assistance, made possible through grants.
“It’s a safe space for girls to express themselves,” said Houser, 32. “It’s not about being a maestro at their instruments. … A success story at camp is maybe somebody who is really quiet and reserved, who has a hard time opening up to her peers, but at the end of the week, onstage, is completely belting out on her instrument and just feels like a rock star.”
Last year’s camp was affirmation for 15-year-old Nora Pellegrino.
“When girls go to the guitar store, you still get weird looks when you want to learn an instrument,” said Pellegrino, a sophomore at Nova High School in Capitol Hill. “I really want to change that. Camp inspires me to inspire others to do that.”
Like Ry, it’s Nora’s second time at camp. Her band, Curtains For Reginald, played a song about an alien and a girl last year.
“Everyone writes these really tacky awesome songs,” said Nora, who plays the mandolin, accordion, piano, guitar, harmonica and ukulele. “But everyone has something to say and as young girls, it’s incredible to say it through song, completely supported by awesome women volunteers.”
Ry sold homemade guitar-pick jewelry to pay for her to camp, making $98.13. And this year, she’s bringing a friend along.
“I told her that it’s really great,” said Ry. “It was like school, but funner.”
Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or firstname.lastname@example.org