Virginia Giordano, one of the most prolific women's music producers, was a funny, sharp, blunt, shy yet bold, dedicated, and passionate powerhouse of excellence in the arts. A memorable woman.
Virginia shaped the women's music movement in NYC and beyond. She took risks and gave new artists a chance, with her tireless efforts on their behalf. She successfully promoted better-known artists such as Sweet Honey In The Rock, Holly Near, Ani DiFranco, George Winston and many many more to spread their messages of positive change in venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Beacon Hall and more in cities up and down the East Coast. Virginia gave many women their entree into the male-dominated music industry, in behind-the-scenes business and technical positions. Her influence on local and national artists and the music scene was incalculable.
We lost Virginia very suddenly in January 2015. It was a mere three weeks from the time she was diagnosed with a terminal disease until she left us and passed to the next realm. She is deeply missed. One of her last requests was, “Please don’t let people forget about me.” We plan to honor Virginia’s wish, her work, and her memory.
SisterSpace Weekend Women’s Festival will be renaming the Amphitheater the Virginia Giordano Amphitheater this year in her honor and will hold a dedication ceremony on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
The Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund has been created to enable up-and-coming women artists and professionally-oriented "behind the scenes" trainees to participate in the annual SisterSpace festival. The fund also provides recipients an opportunity to gain experience and obtain referrals to help build their careers. Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund recipients will perform onstage, and work behind the scenes throughout the weekend, this year and in years to come. They, in turn, will refer other artists for nominations and help to promote the Fund.
We invite you to participate as well:
- Please make a donation to the Fund. Any amount will make a difference to a young artist or behind-the-scenes trainee. Send a check to: SisterSpace (please note “VIRGINIA GIORDANO FUND” on the memo line), PO Box 22476, Philadelphia, PA 19110. All donations are tax deductible.
- Consider making donations to this fund part of your annual charitable contribution plan.
- Spread the word. Use social media and/or personal outreach to people you know.
- Have you got a “Virginia story” to share? Send to: VirginiaGiordanoFund@gmail.com
From Ani DiFranco:
It is hard to believe it’s been almost three years since the passing of our dear friend Virginia Giordano. She was not just a promoter but an artist, an activist, and an all-around amazing person full of surprises. She was a true Righteous Babe. As an independent artist, your success depends on all those people willing to take a chance on you and your art in the beginning and Virginia was one of those people for me. She was a fierce supporter of my work from the early days in New York and it was not just me. She promoted and propelled the work of many other female performers such as Sweet Honey in the Rock.
We spent only passing moments together over the decades as my tours brought me through New York City, but I always knew when I was pulling up to the venue that we would be taken care of, things would flow smoothly, and the house would be packed thanks to her hard work.
Her passion was infectious. She opened doors and made it possible for so many voices to be heard.
Taken way too soon, Virginia lives on in our memories, in our hearts and, tonight, on this stage! She would love this.
Thanks for everything, Virginia. Sing on, SisterSpace.
From Holly Near:
Virginia produced most of my concerts in NYC -- from small venues, to fundraisers for solidarity groups, to shows in large concert halls. I can sing to my heart's content but my work requires someone behind the scene who knows how to bring together the sound, the lights, the promotion, the audience, the finances and the artist care -- well -- Virginia was the best.
From Amy Horowitz, music producer and co-founder of Roadwork/Sisterfire:
It wasn't long after Roadwork started working with Sweet Honey In The Rock that Virginia Giordano contacted me to propose a New York City concert. She had long-term and large scope plans - and as with few with a far-ahead vision, she was ready and willing to start small. Small for her meant a school in the Village for a first round. That seemed pretty big for us. She asked for not only the sound specs but the light specs -- and thus the first lighting plot for Sweet Honey was created - with her help. Virginia had an understated way of doing great stuff. Over the years, step by step Sweet Honey's New York audiences grew until they could sell out Carnegie Hall with nearly a whisper -well that's how it seemed to us. But it was not like that. It was strategic planning, thoughtfully combining political and business smarts and really getting to know the heart and soul of Sweet Honey In The Rock. Our most ambitious project was to record Sweet Honey live at Carnegie Hall. This took all hands and hearts on deck, Art Steele, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Evelyn Harris, and myself - but most of all Virginia who had created such smooth working relations with such a challenging hall that even some of the ushers and stage hands were clapping along and well almost forgetting the clock. Between the Village school and Carnegie there was Symphony Space, Apollo, Towne Hall, churches in all boroughs, festivals at Lincoln Center (inside and out) Prospect Park. It was quite a run. One of my most cherished memories took place a few years before Virginia crossed over at Madison Square Garden at the 90th birthday celebration for Pete Seeger. It had been some years since Bernice had retired from Sweet Honey - but she still called upon Virginia to join her backstage as her artist friend and help her negotiate the space and the event. Virginia was part of the women's music network and much more. When the story is fully told, we will understand the multiple cultures of women's music in its West Coast and East Coast iterations where SisterSpace, Sisterfire, and Virginia Giordano had distinct and yet interconnected sensibilities. I am filled with joy that SisterSpace is honoring Virginia in this way and I hope to pour libation on this stage this fall.
From Toshi Reagon:
Virginia Giordano was one of my favorite concert producers. When I was a kid being an intern at Roadwork Inc. (progressive women's cultural booking and festival production organization), folks would talk about Virginia. She was tough and specific and held her positions strongly. You could depend on her productions. You mixed that with her big mushy heart and dedication to the artists she loved and it was a great combination.
Women's Music producers were often created out of the need to make a show you wanted to see in your town, or at your school. Lots of folks started out with no experience. Virginia created all her shows with a very professional template. I think her longest relationships were with Ani DiFranco and Sweet Honey In The Rock. She adored my mother (Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon), and after Mom retired from Sweet Honey, Virginia never missed our Sacred Music Show at Joe's Pub in NYC.
I learned so much from her. It was such a surprise to find out that she was a painter. I was happy to know that she didn't just produce art but was an artist herself.
Virginia was an activist. She was a white woman who could talk about white people's privilege in America, and the damage that not having awareness and activating to create balance can do to all living things. From her lifetime of work to her last statements on Facebook, her intention is clear. Her profile picture remains #blacklivesmatter.
I am happy that SisterSpace is keeping her name in the air. Our ancestors are the ones we stand on to keep creating and walk the path of Justice, Liberation, Love, and Freedom. It is good to call their names, learn their names, and pick the fruit you need from their trees.