Women of this summer's most successful tour speak their minds on more than music

Joey Guerra

Entertainment Editor

The women of this summer's hottest tour may have already come and gone from our fair city, but they definitely had a few things to say while they were here.

For one thing, the head honchos at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion almost ended up with a no-show after they initially refused to allow volunteers from Planned Parenthood into the venue to set up a display during Houston's Aug. 3 Lilith Fair.

"Personally, I won't be playing in this venue again," said Grammy nominee Joan Osborne, who was noticeably angered by the eventually-rescinded decision.

"I'm gonna get a whole whack of pro-choice T-shirts and wear them on stage, shove 'em up their arses," said Sarah McLachlan, organizer of the all-female concert. "It was very inappropriate because they knew the things we stood for."

Eventually, the whole controversy was settled, but not before Osborne and crew paraded on stage wearing shirts proclaiming "I Am The Face Of Pro-Choice Texas."

"It's a very strange journey we've chosen, this music business stuff," McLachlan said.

Joined by Grammy nominee Osborne, country-folk legend Emmylou Harris and up-and-comers Kelly Willis and Katell Keineg, McLachlan fielded a variety of questions, including ones about comparisons and competition with Lollapalooza (which Lilith Fair consistently outsold this year).

"I think the music is very different," McLachlan said. "I don't think it's a competition, though, as far as I'm concerned."

"Me, personally, I think it's awesome," said Osborne of references to the day-long festival as "Chicapalooza." "It's about supporting women's music, but it's also about having a good time."

The voice behind the smash hit "One of Us" also said being a part of Lilith Fair gave her a chance to meet other artists she admired and to debut some new material.

"It's been really good for me because we had been off the road for about a year," said Osborne.

All the artists involved found the experience rewarding, including Keineg, who flew in from England to play her first Lilith show in Houston.

"I've never heard of it (in Europe), not on this scale, anyway," said Keineg, who was excited just to be on the bill and perform in the United States.

"It's been really great for me," said Willis, a local favorite who plans to record a new album soon and regularly performs around town. "I don't usually get to play for this audience."

For McLachlan, organizing such a high-profile event was a welcome change from the long-held taboos of playing two women back to back on the radio or putting two females on one concert bill. Over 700 applicants submitted requests for the smaller stages, and invitations were sent out to bigger acts to perform on the festival's large stage.

"The musical climate has changed," said McLachlan. "I think a lot of these artists; they have a very strong fan base."

"To see such enormous numbers of people is kind of overwhelming," said Harris, who was promoting her acclaimed album Wrecking Ball and sang the praises of the success of the tour. "I think we all have enjoyed this experience. We sort of snuck up on everybody, I guess. I think the time is now."

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