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AMP Fest celebrates Oklahoma’s female musicians, artists

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Rock ’N’ Roll Camp for Girls Oklahoma City’s purpose is to inspire young campers to be creative and express and empower themselves through music. Tobi Coleman knew this as a volunteer for the one-week day camp where girls ages 8 to 17 form bands and write and perform original songs. Going in, she didn’t realize she would draw her own inspiration from the experience.

Coleman co-owns Revolve Productions, the company responsible for organizing AMP Festival 2016, a free, all-female music and art festival planned Aug. 27 in Automobile Alley. It is an idea that originated with the enthusiasm Coleman saw in the girls at camp.

She said talented female artists exist in nearly every genre and medium; why not have a platform to showcase them?

“The possibilities are endless as far as how much this can grow and how big it can be,” Coleman said. “We kind of hope it even spreads outside of Oklahoma.”

Impacting lives

AMP stands for art, music, power. Coleman and her son Justin Coleman, Revolve’s other co-owner, said the festival concept has existed as a rough idea for more than a year, but they only knew it would become a reality for the past couple of months.

Artists from a variety of musical genres, including rapper Miillie Mesh, female-fronted local indie rock band The Happily Entitled, alternative rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors and Elgin hard-rock band Cut-Throat Queens, will perform.

Female artists and craftspeople will also have booths along Ninth Street in Automobile Alley. Tobi said there will be face painting, henna art and family fun area.

“It’s very diverse,” Tobi said. “The things that we’re selling and the things that we’re doing on the street are not geared toward a women’s-only audience; they’re geared toward everybody.”

Justin hopes AMP Fest functions as an extension of the effort already being put forward by the rock camp and the Oklahoma City Girls Art School. A portion of festival proceeds benefit both organizations.

“I want to impact people’s lives,” he said. “I want to do something good with it, and if I’m providing an opportunity for girls to learn something that they didn’t have the capability of learning before, then I absolutely love the fact that doing this could affect some young girl’s life to become a better person herself.”

Tobi said seeing the girls’ transformations are remarkable.

“[The camp volunteers] always encourage the kids to take that message back home with them and to school with them and to keep the whole Mean Girls syndrome out of it,” she said. “Let’s lift each other up and appreciate each other’s differences.”

Miillie Mesh (Gazette / file)
  • Gazette / file
  • Miillie Mesh

Future growth

Justin said AMP Fest has room to grow, but he is proud of what Revolve was able to pull together in a short window of time.

“We had to piece it together really quick,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the way everything has gone and everyone’s been really supportive of it.”

Justin originally wanted a rock wall or something to demonstrate the physical power side of AMP Fest’s theme, but they could not find anyone to sponsor it in the first year. Next year, they hope to add a showcase for female filmmakers. The idea is for AMP Fest to travel around the city, drawing from what different districts have to offer. Organizers hope to hit Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market in 2017.

Chasing dreams

Tobi wants AMP Fest to be a chance for young girls to see artists of all genres performing on a major stage. She hopes the event also is an inviting option for female artists she said are sometimes intimidated by the thought of entering other art festivals.

Cut-Throat Queens said its act is sometimes overlooked because some people assume women cannot rock with an edge.

“There have been multiple times where we haven’t been taken seriously, and we have been looked at and treated differently by some people because we are women,” Magen Stover, the band’s bassist and vocalist, said in an email to Oklahoma Gazette. “But there’s more love and support than anything.”

Synth-pop singer-songwriter Hannah Wolff said she has not faced any notable challenges as a female artist, though she can think of some instances in which people have wanted to work with her for reasons other than her art, but that is something she said occurs for women in all fields.

“You learn who is professional and make your decisions from there,” Wolff said, “but most often, my music and performances speak for themselves.”

One of AMP Fest’s many visual artists, Irmgard Geul, said Oklahoma is a great place for female artists to have their work displayed and noticed. Geul is originally from The Netherlands and now lives on a ranch in Pauls Valley.

“It says something about Oklahoma women’s determination to make things happen, what is to me very encouraging as an female artist living in Oklahoma,” she said.

Stover hopes AMP Fest helps young girls realize all their ambitions are attainable, not just the ones society says they can reach.

“Don’t let anyone stop you from following your heart and achieving your goals,” she said. “Chase your dreams. You are capable of anything. You are all stars.”

Print headline: Empower move: AMP Fest celebrates Oklahoma’s female musicians and artists.

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