Bonnaroo announcing first woman headliner in 18 years sparks discussion
Earlier today, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival announced its stacked lineup. Scene favorites the 1975, Oliver Tree, Wallows, Dashboard Confessional, the Regrettes and more will join headliners Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala this June.
With the announcement came the news that Lizzo is the first woman ever to headline the festival that first started in 2002 (and has since championed women-only camping). However, in the hours since the reveal, the internet has continued to debate whether Lizzo should be a headlining artist, the gender disparity issue of festival lineups and more.
Following Bonnaroo’s announcement, Lizzo took to Instagram to celebrate being the first female headliner.
“I’m the first woman to headline the main stage at @bonnaroo,” she writes. “It’s about damn time! Y’all ready to watch herstory, bitch?!?”
She was met with praise from fans who took to Twitter to express their excitement.
While Cyrus and Del Rey have been in the mainstream public eye for much longer than Lizzo, the latter has been having a moment with breakouts last year in “Truth Hurts” and “Juice.” The tracks appear on her latest Cuz I Love You, but Lizzo made her debut in 2013 with Lizzobangers.
Fans have also been mindblown over the fact it took Bonnaroo 18 years to book a female headliner. Some also pointed out Coachella also has a lack in female representation having only booked Bjork and Beyoncé for headlining slots over 20 years.
Bonnaroo will kick off June 11 through 14 in Manchester, Tennessee. Tickets go on sale Jan. 9 at noon EST here.
More on female representation on festival lineups
The discussion of women being booked on festival lineups period—not even as the headliner—isn’t new as a lack of representation has been present over the years.
In 2015, Sophy Ziss and Mariel Loveland (Candy Hearts, Best Ex) created GIFs showing the lack of female representation by removing the all-male bands from the lineups of Skate & Surf Festival, FYF Fest, Riot Fest and more. Soon after, Hands Like Houses frontman Trenton Woodley penned a response.
“So sure—festival lineups might appear very skewed if you remove all the all-male acts but the fact that there are so many female-inclusive acts already there is a huge step forward in a severely conditioned society,” he wrote in a blog. “By putting these artists on these stages, I hope that it is an active step towards inspiring more girls to pick up an instrument and dedicate themselves to mastering it.”
That same year, Lights was one of 26 female acts out of 166 to play Coachella. When asked about the disparity, the vocalist explained to AltPress that most of the artists she wanted to see play were women with hopes that would change for the general public in the future.
“Once you look at the girls that are actually there, it’s just amazing. Everyone is so incredible, so unique and so different, and it blows my mind that there isn’t a higher percentage. I think it’s gonna be eventually but, I don’t know. For me, that’s all I want to see right now, that’s all I want to listen to. I want to encourage it as much as possible, especially with young women. Not only getting into performance and vocals and instrumentation, but production, front of house, audio tech. That is a world that is just not thought of as an option for women. I think the gap’s going to close eventually but right now, yeah, there’s a lot less girls.”
“Everyone comes in on it from a different angle,” Costanza told AltPress. “I definitely talked to some people who wanted me to openly bash the festival. And for me the festival itself isn't the problem. It just really highlights what the problem is. The problem is we don't have enough of us making a loud enough stink, basically. I mean, yes, there are girls in bands. Of course there's Lynn [Gunn], and Jenna [McDougall] and Hayley [Williams]. Who knows? Maybe Reading & Leeds asked them to be on the festival. Maybe just conflicting schedules [or] that wasn't the right move for them at the time, so maybe there were supposed to be more girls if it had worked out that way, it just didn't. But there still is a deficit.”
Despite the discussion in the scene, other festivals including London's Wireless Festival 2018 have faced backlash over the lack of females on their lineup since then. The following month, many festivals banded together with a goal of having a 50/50 gender balance by 2022.
The PRS Foundation launched the initiative, dubbed the International Keychange initiative, which empowers women to “transform the future of the music industry and encouraging festivals to achieve a 50:50 balance by 2022.”
45 festivals and conferences made the pledge at the time, including New York’s Winter Jazzfest and A2IM Indie Week; Canada's BreakOut West, MUTEK and North by North East; the UK's BBC Proms, Kendal Calling, Sŵn, and Liverpool Sound City; Sweden's Way Out West, Iceland Airwaves, Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week and many others.
What are your thoughts on Bonnaroo announcing Lizzo as their first female headliner in 18 years? Let us know in the comments below.
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