The road for women in the arts -- despite their visible success in this field -- has been at least as bumpy as their road toward equality in employment, education, and male-female relationships. But it has been a less-watched, if no less important, drama.
That, at least, is how Margie Adam sees it. This performer's contributions are so varied that getting a grip on them all would be very hard: composer, songwriter, singer, and pianist. She has formed her own recording company, which has been producing women artists, training women in the recording business , and working with women in the industry.
Two of her albums were written, arranged, performed, and produced by her for her own label, Pleiades. One of these albums entitled "Naked Keys" -- solo piano numbers -- has just been released. The other album is entitled "Margie Adam, Songwriter" and features Margie singing, playing piano, accompanied totally by women musicians.
She has been called one of the mothers of the six-year-old women's music movement, "an approach to, attitude in, and form of music which grew up as a reaction against the male-dominated hierarchy of the commercial music industry."
Miss Adam claims the pop-music industry puts women on the "meat rack," packaging its female artists -- from Olivia Newton-John to Tina Turner -- in sensuous album covers in 'seductive' poses.
Even the lyrics are objectionable, she feels. "What we hear in songs about women which also ends up being about men is, 'When you're with me you make me feel like a natural woman. When you leave me I feel like I'm going to die.'"
Instead, Adam would have her form of music celebrate women as stable, balanced personalities and not what she sees as submissive sex objects.
And "women's music does not necessarily have to be about women's issues per se, she says. "What makes it special is that it comes from the consciousness of a woman who views hersel as a self-reliant entity." Her lyrics are the lyrics of affirmation.
Margie Adam herself is all the things she hopes her music would reflect about women -- positive, hopeful, creative, dynamic.
She has toured the country for five years promoting women's culture in theaters, colleges, and universities.
Her latest venture is a recently begun national tour sponsored by the National Women's Political Caucus entitled "Margie Adam: On the Road for Women's Rights.
Whereas the pairing of activism and celebrity a Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, and others is not new, the Adam brand of using her art may be. She explains that it takes the normal audience-performer relationship one better:
'We're living in a society with incredible passivity! I want to create an environment in my concerts -- in the music, the lyrics, the conversation I have with the audience, and with the audience singing along -- in which listeners become more and more involved first with me, then with themselves, then with each other."
The most noticeable thing about a Margie Adam performance is how is successful in arousing the thought of her audiences. She does this partly by singing directly to the audience (not an easy task to turn a head 90 degrees while playing piano), giving verbal roadmaps to her songs, and taking such noticeable delight in her ability to generate beautiful, moving music.
At her first concert of the tour, in Boston, Miss Adam played what she considers her most technically demanding piece, "Naked Keys," and then proudly thrust out all 10 fingers as if to say, 'I did it!' After another song entitled 'I've Got a Fury" ("I get so tired of waiting/For the change to come"), she slammed the last chord and thrust her fist high in the air as a power salute. Both actions brought down the house.
Her music has been described as both funny and poignant, with balanced lyrics running the gamut from soft ballads to tongue-in-cheek blues -- a highly listenable blend of folk, pop, and classical music.
"So much of the music which surrounds us these days is aggressive and assaultive to the senses, in some ways devoid of clarity and simple beauty. It has been my desire to write beautiful music which both confronts and eases our hearts and minds."