She Was

60 3Arts supporters
$4,943 raised of $4,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on December 11, 2020
    • 124% contributed

As a singer, I’ve always been interested in how the musical voice can be used to convey emotion, make connections, and communicate story. Recently, I’ve been co-developing a new performance work with Kaitlin Foley and Diana Lawrence of Artemisia that will harness the power of the female voice to uncover stories of remarkable women. We’re calling this piece She Was because it revives past and little-known stories of women while it also celebrates the storytellers among us today who are keeping their legacies and influences alive. We will sing these stories to life with a mix of folkloric vocal traditions from around the world as well as arranged and composed music created by our group and four newly commissioned works by living female composers. To creatively accentuate the power of voice in multiple respects, we will pair our group’s live music performance with elements of sound design using recorded interviews, archival footage, and devised writing. We will blend this with a theatrical and staged narrative as we step into the many shoes of women who have come before us. This project has charged us to go bigger than we ever have before, and we feel now is the time to make a creative leap and find ways that music can bring us together again. With your support, we will be able to realize this dream with the hope of premiering the work in Chicago in the 20-21 season.

About This Project

She Was began much like an archeological dig, inspired by the search for stories about female figures that have been left out of history books. In that process, we found ourselves wondering: Who controls the narrative? What stories are we missing? What would happen in a world where those stories were told?

As a female-forward vocal ensemble committed to putting women’s stories first, we knew we wanted to give those questions life in a newly developed vocal theater production. To represent those stories fully, it was clear to us that we needed to blend the folk traditions of the world that we love to perform with new material devised by a diverse team of female collaborators.

In that spirit, one of our first steps involved reaching out to four songwriters: Rochelle Rice, Hope Littwin, Kyong Mee Choi, and Jess Godwin. We invited each of them to identify a woman who had a meaningful influence on them, but was underrecognized in their view. The women they revealed to us include: fierce feminist and civil rights activist Florynce “Flo” Kennedy; Lady Jae Song (alias), whose tragic life cultivated unexpected strength in the generations who followed her; Doctor Lois, a Chinese doctor who developed preventative medicine inspired by eastern and western traditions; and prolific mountaineer and explorer Gertrude Benham, who climbed over 300 peaks in her lifetime, led by a “spirit of wanderlust.”

Not only were we captivated by these women’s lives, but we found ourselves drawn to the storytellers themselves as they described their inspirations to us not only through their music, but through their language. It was at this moment that we realized She Was would not just uncover the past, but illuminate those that preserve the past: the storytellers.

We also realized that we could harness the digital landscape of today by developing an interactive aspect of this production with audiences and patrons across the globe, no matter the distance. Building on some past successful collaborations, we’re excited to roll out a new online initiative where we’ll invite people submit their own stories of women who have been meaningful to them--quite literally using their own words to describe who “She Was”--and weave those stories into the fold of the show.

While much work has already been done, including completed drafts of our four new commissions, selected biographies, and supporting musical material, we need additional support to fully realize this project. Contributions to this campaign will enable us to hire a team of professionals, including: the sound designer to create audio elements from our archived footage and public submissions; vocal coaches to assist with the many languages and musical traditions in the show; technicians to help with digital streams and distanced performances in advance of a live show; and a staging director to help us get on our feet and bring these women to life in a truthful and authentic way.

Thank you for helping us tell the world who “She Was.” We need her stories now more than ever.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $10
    Shout-out on social media ($10.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $25
    1 ticket to “She Was” plus a shout-out on social media ($5.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    2 tickets to “She Was,” plus VIP downloads of the live tracks, and a shout-out on social media ($10.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75
    Above + Invitation to a VIP Zoom “Behind the Scenes” Party ($35.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    4 tickets to “She Was,” plus a singing “Artemisia Gram” to you (or someone else you care about), Invitation to a VIP Zoom “Behind the Scenes” Party, plus a social media shout-out ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    Above, with an upgrade to VIP seating at the “She Was” premiere plus an exclusive "meet & greet" with Artemisia during a creative post-production work session ($120.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, plus a private “She Was” house concert by Artemisia! (Must be within 50 driving miles of Chicago, otherwise travel expenses will apply; or digital performance is possible as well!) ($120.00 is tax deductible.)

Alexandra Olsavsky

Make a Wave Artist

Alexandra Olsavsky, a "beautifully voiced" soprano (Herald-Times, Bloomington Early Music), is a collaborative musical artist who actively performs with a diverse array of artistic ensembles, including those specialized in Renaissance and Baroque era music, world music, chamber …

View Alexandra Olsavsky's profile
  • Update 1: 33% and Counting!
    Posted on October 30, 2020


    Wow wow wow - so grateful to our early adopters for such a heartening first five days of our campaign! We've already made it 33% of our way to our goal, thanks to the illustrious:

    Kathrine Kouns, Laura Olsavsky (thanks, Mom!), Elisa Gores, Benjamin & Alexia Rivera, Jennifer Jones, Angela Born, Diane Deckert, Carole Palmer, Else-Britt DeLong, Craig Trompeter, Lorrie Doriza, Tait Chamberlain, J. David Velleman, and a handful of anonymous donors (you know who you are).

    We still have a few surprises up our sleeve as special "thank you"s for our early adopters... but more on that soon! :) Have a wonderful weekend!

    Update 2: November Update: We met our 3Arts Match! Only 15% to go!
    Posted on November 24, 2020

    Joe Mazza - BraveLux Studios  

    In this November of ups and downs, we're so grateful to our most recent donors for pushing this project ever closer to the finish line! In fact, we raised enough early in the month to earn our 3Arts 1/3 matching grant, which means we're in the final stretch with only 15% of the way to go to our goal. We're so close to being able to bring "She Was" to life, thanks to our AMAZING donors:

    Becky Hankin, Shelley Carr, Stephanie Gregoire, Ladonna Freidheim, Michael Hawes, Callista Hoffman, Kellie Romany, Philip Spray, Mollie Stone, Sarina Partridge, Kathleen Murray, Kimberly Dent, Kristin Ansari, Kara Brietzke, Carolynn Sheridan, Wendy Sims, Mary Breidenbach, Mike Brozick, Matthew Lee, and an anonymous donor. A big virtual hug and thank you from all of us!

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Kathrine Kouns

    • Laura Olsavsky

    • Elisa Gores

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Benjamin & Alexia Rivera

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Jennifer Jones

    • Angela Born

    • Diane Deckert

    • Carole Palmer

    • Else-Britt DeLong

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Craig Trompeter

    • Susan Nelson

    • Lorrie Doriza

    • Tait Chamberlain

    • J. David Velleman

    • Becky Hankin

    • Shelley Carr

    • Stephanie Gregoire

    • Ladonna Freidheim

    • Michael Hawes

    • Callista Hoffman

    • Kellie Romany

    • Philip Spray

    • Mollie Stone

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Sarina Partridge

    • Kathleen Murray

    • Kimberly Dent

    • Kristin Ansari

    • Kara Brietzke

    • Carolynn Sheridan

    • Wendy Sims

    • Mary Breidenbach

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Mike Brozick

    • Matthew Lee

    • Tamara Ghattas

    • Kelly Keough

    • Linda Meissner

    • Miriam Hankins

    • Sondra Morin

    • Marianne Schapiro

    • Wendy Lawrence

    • William Fodor

    • Nancy Caporaso

    • Kathleen Oswald

    • Peter Jermihov

    • Stella Green Sanderson

    • Mike Pope

    • Sarah Hough

    • Laura Olsavsky

    • Kate Pukinskis


    • Matthew Socha

    • Jonathan Siegel

    • Willaim Foley

    • Emily Edgington

    • Jack Davis

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council