As you all know Sunday was International Women’s Day, and The Riverfront invited me along to their International Women’s Day event on Monday.
I met my lovely friend in the cafe and had a snack (yummy as always), took a quick look at the stalls, including the knitted knockers uk stall, and then went through to take our seats.
The night kicked off with some students from St Julians school introducing the acts, and Unapologetic showing off their amazing moves with a brilliant dance routine. Leah Hutchinson then performed some original spoken word and song for us, which was lovely and she can certainly hold a tune.
The wonderful Kssense from Birmingham then reminded all the ladies in the room how beautiful they were and made me want to say thank you to her for her words. Also from Birmingham were Janel Antonishia, with her fantastic singing, and Truemendous with her spoken word and rap performance with such energy! I think they did their city proud and it was mentioned that Truemendous does a lot of work with youth groups in Newport, which I am sure is very much appreciated and admirable.
Gabriella Gillespie also shared with us with a short talk about her life, this amazingly strong woman experienced being sold as a child bride after her mother was murdered by her father and then suffered years of abuse. Gabriella was willing to answer questions, but after that received many comments of support and appreciation for sharing her story, she has written about her life which I imagine will be hard to read, but Gabriella is committed to making sure everyone knows children are being sold for marriage even today, and that it is happening everywhere. I will be buying her book A Father’s Betrayal to educate myself. This horrific situation happened to Gabriella in Newport, right on our doorstep in the 70’s.
I think a mention needs to made here for Georgia Mohnagan, at just 14 she sang note perfect (to my untrained ears at least) and I don’t think that will be the last time I’ll see/ hear about Georgia, I was blown away!
The talent on display and the fun atmosphere made me feel very proud, a celebration of Women in this form, showing their talents and coming together to share them is a wonderful thing to witness. It wasn’t all singing and dancing though, there was also the wonderful Lynette Webbe, representing the British Heart Foundation and Mind charities, who managed to get the Mayor and Mayoress on stage doing Tommy Cooper impressions, not what I expected to see on a Monday evening! It was wonderful to see everyone laughing along together though, Lynette described herself as the “Happy Hormone Maker” and I have to admit I had a good laugh at her act. Her overall message was that our hearts and minds matter so we need to look after them, and she’s right.
I’ve also been inspired to start some belly dancing from this event as well, I’ve certainly got plenty of belly to wobble about! The Jawahir Middle Eastern Dancers put on a fabulous display of middle eastern dance and did make me wonder how they move like that!
One of my favourite parts of the evening was NU Wave Dance’s performance, a group of ladies over 50 who shared a brilliant dance routine with us, that made us smile and impressed me as I wouldn’t be able to remember that routine at 20 years their junior! Brilliant.
We also had rapping from a girl called Leona Channing who obviously had a lot of courage to get up on that stage and perform in front of all those people, the younger girls including Leona were nervous and I don’t think I would have had the guts to have done that as a teenager, or even now for that matter, so well done to them!
My absolute favourite part of the whole evening though was Suzy Conrad, what a talent and a half she has, if you have never experienced looping before then look it up, I was mesmerised by the way Suzy navigated playing instruments, recording the loops, singing over the music she’d played and manage to entertain everyone whilst keeping up with what she was doing, I honestly could hardly keep up with what she was doing but I know that I loved it. Oh and the songs were all original and Suzy’s work (as far as I know) and blew my mind completely, I wasn’t the only one either it seems, the crowd demanded an encore and Suzy obliged.
Aleighcia Scott belted out a couple of songs at the end that lifted our spirits, and on the way out we bought some scarves from Lynette (remember the Happy Hormone Maker?) to raise money for her charities and I came away from The Riverfront on Monday feeling very happy and impressed as always. However I was also a little sad, we should be able to showcase these talents more. There were some incredible women there and I think they need more recognition.
So this event reminded everyone how soulful, wonderful, talented, funny, strong and brave women can be, how supportive and kind women can be, and also gave some of us a glimpse back to what it was like being a giggly teenager too (I felt so old!).
Tonight the International Women’s Day art exhibition is open at The Riverfront now as well, so go and check it out if you can.