Charlotte's Lady Rockstars Empower Women Through Music And Friendship
You've probably wondered at some point in your life—what would it be like to be a rock star?
One woman in Charlotte is giving that chance to other women, some of whom have never picked up an instrument before in their lives.
Walk down the hallways of the Playroom—a studio/rehearsal space in west Charlotte and what you’ll hear is best described as a hodgepodge of sound.
The Playroom is like apartments for musicians…artists like Usher, Jewel, Aaliyah have rented rooms to record or rehearse when passing through Charlotte.
So does a local musician/mom/founder of a rock star crash course for women Krystle Sauls.
These are the Lady Rockstars, a group of women ranging in age from 30-50 (the only age requirement is that you be at least 21) all learning how to play bass or guitar, most of them for the first time. Thirty-year-old Sauls is their leader and bass instructor. She’s got long curly purple and blue hair, glasses, and a lot of passion for teaching.
Along with being the founder of Lady Rockstars, she’s the Director of Music for Girls Rock Charlotte—a nonprofit that empowers young girls through a summer song writing and music program.
Sauls says creating Lady Rock Stars was an easy decision in 2014. Many of the moms who signed their daughters up for Girls Rock, were a little jealous of the opportunity their kids were getting. They wanted their own workshops to learn how to play instruments.
"Everybody is more eager to learn when they are older. Which you don’t think…old dog new tricks…but the people that are older they actually practice," Sauls said.
For $250 bucks the musicians in training form bands, learn different songs, and then at the end of six weeks, come together for a final gig—in public. The final performance is schedule for Febuary 19 at Hattie's. She says it’s not just about learning an instrument. It’s deeper than that.
"Your life isn’t over because you’re over 30. There are still all these new experiences you can do. If all you have to do is take a step out of your comfort zone and you’re going to learn something and meet new people, take that step. It could be something you really get into. Or you could just do it and learn a few chords but you could meet someone here that leads you down a different path. It all intertwines together," said Sauls.
Fifty-year-old librarian Laura Highfill, signed up to learn something new and now that her own kids are grown to do something purely for her own enjoyment.
"It’s like learning a foreign language, learning something new that's totally outside my usual box. I think it will hopefully stimulate my brain cells to keep working properly!" said Highfill.
Christine Lukowitsch, 47, who’s an RN has been playing for bass for about a year, but she wanted to get more serious about playing with others and to push past her shyness.
Plus playing with a group solely made of women supporting one another, takes the pressure off.
"I’ve played with guys before, but, I think it’s just a nice sense of comradely and togetherness. There’s no judgment. It’s just a bunch of women having fun and drinking wine," she said.
The group’s guitar instructor Lara Americo echoes that sentiment. She says it’s been rewarding to work with these women and watch them grow as performers each week. And she has a unique perspective as to how challenging it can be for women to get fair treatment when trying to break into amusic scene.
"I actually got to experience being a musician as a guy. And then I transitioned into being a female so I got to feel both things. I got to be one of those guys that was always meddling and didn’t even realize it. I know how it is for them now that I’m experiencing what they experience with male musicians," said Americo.
It’s this supportive environment Lady Rock Star founder Krystle Sauls was out to create in the first place. Eventually, she’d like to generate enough money so she can hire more local female musicians to teach. It’s not to exclude men…but to create something male musicians often take for granted: a space to be taken seriously, have some fun, and…rock.