Kristin Lems | Equality Road

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Folk: Political Kids/Family: Kid Friendly Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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Equality Road

by Kristin Lems

Authentic "vintage folk" - rousing live renditions of funny and fiery feminist classics, several singalongs even the kids will enjoy, and a reminder that there was a huge mainstream movement for women's rights - this is how it sounded.
Genre: Folk: Political
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ballad of the ERA
4:45 $0.99
2. We Will Never Give Up
4:26 $0.99
3. Failure is Impossible
3:27 $0.99
4. I'm Gonna be an Engineer
4:17 $0.99
5. My Mom's a Feminist
5:51 $0.99
6. My Mother Gave me a Penny
1:13 $0.99
7. The First Five Minutes of Life
4:05 $0.99
8. The Witches Song
3:10 $0.99
9. Dangerous Spring
3:53 $0.99
10. New Boundaries
3:08 $0.99
11. Kashke
4:13 $0.99
12. We Will Never Give Up (reprise)
3:59 $0.99
13. In the Out Door
3:20 $0.99
14. Clingin Vine
2:58 $0.99
15. The Living Wage
4:13 $0.99
16. Still in Love with You
3:29 $0.99
17. Days of the Theocracy
3:13 $0.99
18. Catch it on the Run
4:39 $0.99
19. Gol-e-Yakh
3:45 $0.99
20. Smith Hall
4:18 $0.99
21. Too Cheap to Meter
3:04 $0.99
22. The Only One
3:54 $0.99
23. How Nice
2:22 $0.99
24. Chicago Calypso
2:49 $0.99
25. Union ABCs
3:40 $0.99
26. Rosa Parks
2:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Kristin Lems set out to be a folksinger, but the 70's changed all that. The women's rights movement was burgeoning and Kristin found herself squarely in the middle of its heady energy. A prize-winnning poet, she turned to writing original songs -- like "Mammary Glands," because "the songs I searched for to express myself just didn't exist in the folk archives," she explains. She founded the National Women's Music Festival in 1974 in Champaign-Urbana, and the outpouring of interest in women making music expanded her topics and her audience.
Although she had had a successful folk career, singing in a duo with multi-talented partner Tim Vear at numerous restaurant and club venues, the original songs started attracting more attention, and the gigs started getting more political. She went on the road singing funny feminist songs and getting hired for conferences, fundraisers and rallies. By the time the Equal Rights Amendment was in full steam, Kristin had performed for six national conventions of the National Organization for Women and numerous state conferences, touring to 36 states. "A charmer in the most literal and least artificial sense of the word," wrote The New Yorker. Gloria Steinem declared Kristin to have "a new kind of humor - that doesn't put anybody down but tells the truth." And she received extensive airplay, especially in the public radio stations.
The albums from which these songs are taken represent the pinnacle of this period of Kristin's career. We Will Never Give Up, the first of the two albums, was recorded live at the final ERA rally in Lafayette Park, Washington, DC, on June 30, 1982, the day that the time limit on the proposed Amendment expired. "I marvel that the singing shows such good cheer and resolve," she muses, "when you consider everyone there was having nervous breakdowns. In a way, the rally was a mass therapy session!" To add to it all, it rained - and the rally was shortened. One of the photos in the CD booklet shows a group of children, young feminists, holding up a big umbrella over Kristin as she continued "singing in the rain."
The rest of the first album was recorded live at Nature's Table restaurant in Urbana, IL two weeks later. It includes the songs that were planned for the rally, and several others, including some written and performed on the piano. If there is any doubt that feminists include young and old, women, men, and children, listen to the hoots, hollers, and lusty singing of the crowds if you want to hear feminism in action! The album also contains the classic "I'm Gonna be an Engineer," written by Peggy Seeger, which was for many years one of the most requested songs in Kristin's performances.
The second album, In the Out Door, represents some of the finest songwriting in Kristin's long and illustrious career. Although the songs were written in the late 1970's, they are still up to date and almost prescient. "How Nice," Kristin's song comparing a straight couple with a gay couple, and pointedly asking who would congratulate the gay couple when they wanted to marry, is, as far as we have been able to research, the first recorded song calling for gay marriage (1979). "Days of the Theocracy" was also written in 1979 and, except for a reference to "parochiaid," the term used for state subsidy of religious schools at the time, the song is completely contemporary.
One of the most extraordinary subthemes of the two albums is the inclusion of two songs in the Persian language, Gol e Yakh (Ice Flower) and Kashke (I Wish). Kristin learned them while living in Iran, where she taught English and fronted a Persian rock band. She is happy that some of the charm of Persian culture is included on these albums at this moment in time, and hopes they can be played in support of peace between Iran and the U.S.
Three additional tracks were added to the compilation, all written in the last few years. One, "New Boundaries," was taken from a poem given to Kristin by a woman writing a play about Amelia Earhart, when she found a poem about the joys of flying in the 99's, the women's flying club Amelia helped found. Kristin put the poem to music and it "takes off" in a salute to adventuring women. The other two are lively, funny songs about wages - "The Living Wage" counts down a woman's paycheck at minimum wage and shows how she falls into debt; the last, "Union ABCs," rollicks through the big concepts behind the union movement by going through the alphabet. You'll have to hear it to see what is represented with "x."
The double CD with booklet was designed by Laurie Haag, whose impressive talents bear special mention. Laurie, originally a drummer, is on In the Out Door playing drums, but plays the bass guitar on We Will Never Give Up. A talented multiinstrumentalist, she picked up the bass guitar and worked up the repertoire Kristin was performing across the country during the ERA struggle. Laurie's rock solid rhythms tracks on the two albums help give the music its driving energy. Later, Laurie learned graphic design and wanted to create the cover images and the booklet that now comprise Equality Road. Laurie is also collecting ERA stories for a future full length book, and is negotiating a contract with a university press. Pictures of Laurie playing bass with Kristin can be seen at Kristin's website in the Photos area.
"It stirred up a lot of emotion in me to get these songs ready to release on CD," says Kristin. "They are foundational to who I am today, and I get enormous feedback from listeners telling me they feel the same way. I know that people who lived this movement with me will shed some tears and also share some laughs -- and people who didn't will get a small taste of what the women's movement, or at least this little corner of it, sounded like in the height of our activism. More importantly, this double DC insures that our movement will not be written out of future US history sources. We were there and here's what we were doing."
The dazzling 26 song collection, including intros, clapping and singing along, is just the jump start for all who need a boost. It's a healthy musical box of candy lovingly offered from the past to the future.



to write a review

Linn Olson

great music great spirit great songs!
AT LAST! I have been waiting for these songs for the longest time. If you are looking for the spirit of the ERA captured in one place, this is the place. I love the clapping and cheering and Lems funny introductions. It's great to hear women, men, and children all part of the singing and cheering. Lems is also an amazing songwriter and the love songs are as good as the political songs. The booklet is awesome with pictures of the rallies and all the words. Thank you Kristin for your gift to the future.

Elessar Tetramariner

Kristin and I have corresponded on and off the since the early 1980s. A female feminist younger friend played a few songs from "Oh Mama!"--and I was hooked. At one point I tried to get her booked at a club in Ann Arbor, without having a clue how to.I wanted her there that much. Now, 2 decades later, living in England, I want to re-active myself. I was listening to my 'Scattershot Vol. 5" mps cd collection, and several of what I love the most from Kristin came up on the speakers and there I was back in the early 1980s. Two of Kristin's cds are selling for extortionate prices on, so I thought I would come back to the source and pay the woman what she is due.
Feminism has a new face here in the market town of Ely, the second smallest city in England. I fight an uphill battle, and because I am a long-haired Canamerican man, get viewed by suspicion by the Old Guard, and with a bit of awe by the Young Guard. Laurie sounds like the kind of woman I'd want at my side, too--so talented and dedicated. The cds are expensive, but need a home here in the last place you would expect them. I had to sell all my vinyl in 2002, when I moved to England from Michigan (no room in the new, smaller house), but saved what I could on computer and disk what I could take to my 'new' country. Bless ya, womyn. Stay in touch.

Sara Michaels

Theocracy is great!!
Heard her song Theocracy on the Midnight special last night and laughed out loud! Now I've come here and sampled some more of Kristen's songs and ordered the CD. I'm looking forward to having them in my collection and I want my mom to have this too. She was there and that's part of why I am who I am. Thank you Kristen.


"Feministly" Wonderful
Kristin has given us an amazing tool to fight for our Rights: her songs! She sings about Women´s Liberty, Strength, Equality, Independence and Capacity; First, Second and Third Feminist Wave, all these on her Women´s Movement CD. This collection of songs is a "must listening" to all Women around the World.