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Still Rockin'

By From the Lowell Sun

By Nancye Tuttle

LOWELL -- Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga.

They come from different generations and diverse musical backgrounds. But they're all chart-toppers whose sounds have influenced countless others.

They're but four in a jam-packed lineup of female music stars being honored in the Mothers of Rock tribute concert on March 3 at the UML Inn and Conference Center.

Others honorees include Tracy Chapman, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Allanah Myles, Vienna Teng, Vanessa Carlton, Regina Spektor, Joan Jett, Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.

It's the sixth such concert that music students at UML have organized. An important Lowell Women's Week activity, it honors women in music and raises funds for Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell and the UML chapter of the Music & Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA).

"The students see this as a way to give back to the community and to gain valuable experience," said the show's co-producer, Dayna Brown of Chelmsford.

This year's show -- the sixth -- will be the biggest and best, said Brown, a senior in UML's music business program.

"It's an exciting lineup and our way of paying tribute to great women in the music industry," she said. "It's gotten to be very big at UML, which has a strong music culture. Our students are self-motivated and many have their own projects."

Nearly 25 bands and soloists auditioned for 16 slots. Performers include UML students, alumni and faculty. Most are in the music department, but a few are talented, non-music major students who love performing.
Each act will be a standout, Brown promises, noting that it's each group or individual's responsibility to pick the musician and tribute piece they'll perform.

"Each year we try to honor different women," she said.

Pete Lally, a UML music business adjunct professor and general manager of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, will be joined by musical friends performing a Stevie Nicks classic from Fleetwood Mac.

Sophomore Lauren Busa will sing Chapman's "Give Me One Reason to Stay Here" and Clara Berry -- an "incredible talent with her own CD" -- will give Parton her due. Amanda Kinney is slated to perform Swift's "You Belong with Me," while Alan Williams, a professor and faculty supervisor of MEISA, will sing a McVie Fleetwood Mac tune.

Alumna Lori Kirk will sing her own composition and bring samples of her new line of clothing for sale.

"We encourage original work and are thrilled she'll be here," Brown said.

If there are any surprises, it may be Joe Rondeau's rendition of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." The UML Chamber Singers, a classical all-female ensemble, will turn their backs on the classics to sing Lavigne.

And the entire ensemble will gather for the finale group song -- a Mothers of Rock tradition -- belting out Franklin's "Respect."

"We've always wanted to do Aretha, since she provided a foundation for so many," said Brown.

Besides shining the spotlight on UML musical talents, Mothers of Rock gives students valuable entertainment production experience.

"MEISA offers students real-world experience and doing the concert is a great opportunity," Brown said. "I've learned so much, I may try to organize another benefit concert."

The public is invited to the concert. And its new venue makes it more accessible to downtown residents.

"We hope everyone comes. The new space is great and the concert will be, too," said Brown.

Mothers of Rock 2010 Performers, artists and program (as of press time)

  • The Flip: TBA
  • Jessica Tramondozzi: The Cranberries
  • Lindsey Corbin: Vienna Teng
  • Katrina Walther: Alannah Myles
  • Pete Lally: Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac
  • Alan Williams: Christine McVie/Fleetwood Mac
  • Joe Rondeau: Lady Gaga
  • -- Intermission
  • The Advocates: Vanessa Carlton
  • Elizabeth Hodge: Regina Spektor
  • The Dead Beats: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Lori Kirk: original song by Lori Kirk
  • Amanda Kinney: Taylor Swift
  • Leah DiMaio: Celine Dion
  • UML Chamber Singers: Avril Lavigne
  • Clara Berry: Dolly Parton
  • Group Song: Aretha Franklin Concert Preview

Mothers of Rock, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 3, UMass Lowell Inn and Conference (former DoubleTree Hotel), Warren Street, Lowell. Free, but donations welcome. Proceeds support Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell and UML's MEISA (Music & Entertainment Industry Student Association).