Women, sport and music: Performing as the Winter Olympics in 2014

sochi performance

Jessica Jerome and Lindsay Van started ski jumping when they were in primary school, and fell in love with the sport from their first jump!
In a video interview a tiny, 7 year old big blue-eyed Lindsay, declares confidently: “My goal is to make the Olympic Team!”

A child’s promise to herself is a powerful one. I know all about it:
I couldn’t believe my ears when I found just few years ago a cassette tape back home in Italy, with a recording from when I was a little kid pretending to be a radio host and announcing myself: “Here is Gala! Her song is in the UK charts!” Growing up in Italy, with no Internet at the time, three B&W TV channels and a small radio in the kitchen, I’m not sure how the UK charts made it into my imagination but they did.

Years later I found myself traveling to London to perform my songs: “Freed From Desire” and “Let A Boy Cry” on the British music chart TV show “Top of The Pops,” and that same year received a Gold Record in the UK.

Jessica and Lindsay were told that women’s ski jumping would never be an Olympic event.
Gian Franco Kasper from The International Ski Federation told them that it was not appropriate for ladies. They were told that their reproductive organs were not suitable for the sport. This ridiculous gender bias statement wasn’t made in the Medieval Ages or in the 50’s, as it could sound, this was few years ago. Do we still need feminism? I believe so.

In 2008 Lindsay and Vanessa together with ten professional female ski jumpers hired lawyers and filed a lawsuit to be able to participate at the Olympics, but they lost.
I dealt so many times with lawyers in my career to defend my rights: from my first record deal that completely disrespected my rights as a writer, to suing a producer who sold one of my songs to a TV commercial without my approval, to getting out of a record deal with a major label that did not release any of my music for over four years!

It’s been hard. But I did not stop and these girls didn’t stop either.
This will make you understand better how much a woman has to struggle, to get the same rights as men: In 2010 Lindsay who wasn’t allowed to participate at the Olympics yet, held the RECORD on the Olympic hill, until the guy who won the gold medal that year beat it on the last jump! To sit there and watch someone (a male athlete on top of it all) trying to beat your record and you are not even allowed to participate in the race, because you are a female athlete, must feel utterly wrong.

It must have felt as frustrating as when I see the hundredth- four white guys- rock band and the hundredth white male Dj perform at a live festival being sponsored and supported by labels, managers, booking agents and sponsors while girls bands (how many are there anyway?), girls Djs (there are many but they certainly don’t get paid as much as the TOP 100 Djs in the world of which 98% are male), don’t get the same opportunities.

For over 15 years I managed booked and released my music independently, sometimes it happened that I got invited to perform at interesting venues, from TV shows to special events, or festivals; but I couldn’t afford the travel expenses to do the gigs which are considered “promotional.” one example was the Winter Olympics, where to be able to perform and pay my dancers/musicians and myself I had to book a club gig right after the performance in Medal Plaza.

Persistence pays off. Still without a label or a manager, I headlined in the Medal’s Plaza at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the same Olympics where WOMEN were allowed FOR THE FIRST TIME to ski jump!
I am so proud to have been there on the same Olympics where Jessica and Lindsay jumped for the first time! From two completely different paths of life, SPORT and MUSIC, but with the same kind of struggles, we made it to the Olympics! We were there to fight for our rights of being women and do what we love and know how to do.

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