An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor, and Amanda Palmer from a hard working unknown folksinger

Hey Ladies

I wanted to say Thank You. All three of you admirable women are outspoken, powerful, talented, and living your lives on your terms. Somehow, in the year 2013, that last one is still difficult. Women are still shaking off the shackles of oppression from all angles, still unsheathing themselves from the mighty patriarchy, and oh my, is it a heavy cloak. I hope the honesty and hard-won lessons in these letters are being ingested by others the way they have by me, an early-30’s songwriter, musician, mother, and unknown folksinger.

You could say i tried to use my sexuality to sell music in my early days. I was 23 and living in my car, driving mad circles around the country playing coffee shops, colleges, backyards and bars, armed with pink tinged blonde hair, a loud untrained voice and a guitar that was an old friend who would acquiesce to my often odd demands of playing bizarre chords and waltzes. Sexuality didn’t really work for me, my songs were too vulnerable as is, i couldn’t bear putting too much more of myself on display (except for that one time at a jam festival in California where i accidentally wore a tube top and during a particularly aggressive song i realized my boob had escaped… i sold a lot of cds that day). Years later after building a very small, but very satisfying career singing about my feelings, my bass playing boyfriend and i got pregnant. I was terrified, my small time folksinging career couldn’t afford tour nannies or even consistent hotels. We traveled in a station wagon. I had no agents or labels. I had to let our sweet manager go because we couldn’t pay him and pay the midwife. My career (or whatever you call it) has definitely felt a hit, as I write this blog with an almost two year old demanding my attention every three minutes. My husband currently plays bass with TV stars every other weekend and we are able to stay afloat, regardless of the anchor of my jealously of his sweet gigs.

I digress, I appreciate you Miley for your unabashed use of all the arrows in your employ. A month ago, I couldn’t have cared less about you or music and now i’ve seen a lot of your videos and read every interview you’ve given lately. I am fascinated and impressed by the amount of fucks you don’t give as you twerk and cry all while riding a wrecking ball without any undies. I would never have half the courage you have, plus i can’t figure out the folksinger’s version of twerking, maybe using 2 capos at once? I just hope we don’t see you fall into mental illness or serious drug addiction. America loves a naked train wreck, but i can’t help just see you as a real young woman carving a niche for herself in an already graffiti covered pop music world. If you take Sinead & Amanda’s insight to heart, you could possibly avoid such missteps. These are your elders. They see your beauty and are hopeful for you. We live in a world where this advice is scoffed at, where our elders are drugged into a stupor so that we can drive the planet into the rising seas without a wrinkled finger wagging at us and saying “I told you so!”. That finger points at you out of love and respect. Bob Dylan’s famous quote “Please get out of the new one / If you can’t lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin’.” May or may not apply here.

Sinead & Amanda, thank you for voices. For playing the Mother and the Crone for Miley the Maiden. It saddens me so deeply when women hate on women. We HAVE to be each other’s biggest advocates in this world that wants us to fit coyly into our tiny molds and not complain about it. You have both been very inspiring to me in many ways, the most of which is very clearly standing up tall and straight for your art, for your beliefs, for yourselves. If i had any kind of soapbox to stand on (maybe this is it?), i would decry my love for your giant balls of fury. And now that you’ve made your voices heard to Miss Miley and her ability to command attention, i think we all need to sit back and watch her live out her life the way she so desires, in all it’s tongue-waggling glory.

I hope if she ever has kids she lets those boobs fly when she breast feeds. That’s my favorite way to expose myself.

I know that the chances of any of these 3 women seeing this blog is slim to none, but i had to take a page out of their books and express myself on the subject. While we are at it, can we start calling musicians who happen to be female, “Musicians” as opposed to “Female Musicians”? Would you ever call a man who happens to be a musician, a “Male Musician”? I doubt it. We don’t need the qualification of our gender anymore when it comes to our jobs. Thanks.

xo, a musician

raina rose

ps-spellcheck doesn’t know what to do with the word “TWERK”
pps-my new record, Caldera is the best piece of art I’ve ever made and I would jump on a wrecking ball and twerk my naked ass off to get the word out about it, if I had access to a clean wrecking ball. (http://www.rainarose.com/store.html)

119 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor, and Amanda Palmer from a hard working unknown folksinger

  1. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love, admire or respect you more, I read this and somehow I do. Thank you for speaking your truth with love dear Raina, and please know that you are one of the finest musicians (female or otherwise) that I know of.

    Blessings,
    Lydia

  2. Nicely done Ms Raina! My sentiments exactly on every single word. Thanks for taking the time to unravel and articulate such an insightful and compassionate point of view.

    • thanks Havilah. As i was writing i had to keep reminding myself that i shouldn’t stop doing something because it is hard. for some reason, this was a really hard blog to write… hope you are well sister. xo

  3. Absolutely love and respect this note, Raina. As a 51 year old woman, an artist manager working in the folk-roots-blues realm of the Canadian music industry, and a mother of three nearly grown up *gulp* children, I felt myself smile and relate as I read. I related as a woman, as a mom, as a lover of music and as someone who would need a clean surface to sit on.

    We are all talking, which can only be good.
    – nicole

  4. Dear Raina – I have never heard your music but your words are true so I will search for you in the folk music community. This is a loving blog in a sometimes not so loving world. Cheers!

  5. I think this is awesome. I’ll tweet it while I twerk… actually I have no idea what twerking is. Maybe I should find out.

  6. Riana, I love this! I admire the wisdom in your words and the respect that offer even when others may question.

    I am a folk singer as well, and when I read the “equivilent of Twerking in folk is using two capos” I nearly died laughing.

    I keep my clothes on, and I have never mounted a wrecking ball… but I play folk music with 2 Capos!!!

    Anyway, best be getting back to Twerking on my music career.

    Way to go 🙂

  7. Thanks for speaking out rationally,convincingly and without judgment. Everything you’ve said is dead on and you’re right, musicians are musicians regardless of gender, and not only should women not hate on one another, but no one should hate on anyone else. We should all be strong enough to listen to the wisdom of those who walked before us and those who walked before us should be wise enough, as you are, to advise instead of attacking.

  8. I am really glad that I came across this!
    ” It saddens me so deeply when women hate on women. We HAVE to be each other’s biggest advocates in this world that wants us to fit coyly into our tiny molds and not complain about it.”
    This is so true and I wish that more people would take it to heart instead of being ruled by jealousy and hate!
    It seems to be a current theme in my life right now.

    Thanks!

  9. Thank you, Raina:) I haven’t met you, though I have moved in some of the same circles. I especially love that you are invoking these amazing women — celebrities — as the triple aspects of the Goddess! It’s not everyone’s path to live all the messy and sublime parts of their lives way out in the open like they do… We would do well to cut them (and really, ourselves and the girls and women we know) some slack. I’m a musician, and a mama of a 3 year old daughter, and I am very aware of the baggage that women have to carry in the world, regardless of their roles. I want to show my daughter that pursuing your passion in life is an important choice, and that in order to be a good mama to her, I have to take care of myself first. I want her to feel that she is able to express her own unique self as she moves through this changing universe — that she is a process, a be-coming, not a product, or an end result. Can we acknowledge that everything has its own kind of darkness? And how do we love a moving target? Well done, ladies! ~Kelly Brightwell

  10. Simply captivating and articulate note to Miley. I admire that through your passion for music and the love of your sweet baby boy and hubby that you persevere to be the best musician possible. Knew I was going to order your album- now I won’t wait until I have a moment – I will make the moment.

  11. Thank you for this Raina. I’m not much into folk music; but I’m headed to your store to buy some. I’d much rather support an unknown musician than perpetuate Miley’s mess. I didn’t buy her music before and I certainly won’t buy any now! Cheers to you! And may your music career continue far into the future. Bright Blessings!

  12. From another unknown folk musician on the other side of the world…

    I posed the same question last night on my facebook page… Whatever we may feel about Mylie, Sinead, Amanda… at the end of the day feminism/womanism only suffers when a mass media hyped up women attacking women is portrayed. You my dear have written and shared exactly what has been twisting around my stomach in knots from whence this all started. Thank you for taking the time. Thank you for sharing and may this spread as far and wide as Sinead and Mylie’s antics and may your album go to number one. ps had a quick listen! Love it!
    Áine Tyrrrell

  13. I don’t know you, or your music(yet!) but your words here are wise and true…everything I like in my music.

    This came across my facebook feed several times today, I hope it goes “viral” in a way that brings you new fans *and* that brings you heartfelt appreciation for doing the hard stuff of staying true to you while being a mom.

    There is a movie I want to recommend-“Who Does She Think She Is” that was validating and life changing for me as an artist, a women and a mother… http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00375C24C

    blessings

  14. So I sent the link to all 3 of the ladies, I thought it was something very worthwhile for them all to see.

    Wonderful open letter ma’am!

  15. “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men (and women) count with you, but none too much”
    From “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

    Artists need to take chances. Artists also steer the culture. Do what you want to do and continually revisit the question of what do you want to do, really.

  16. I love this so much. I aspire to be as wise and well spoken as you as you one day miss Raina Rose! I have never heard your music but I will now start a search for as it because I have a feeling I will love it to 🙂

  17. Although English is my second language I am very inspired by your piece. Music was never bought and sold during hundreds of years ago. It was pure like the natural color of water which is not mixed with any other colors. America needs pure music today.

    Good wishes,
    Ngawang

  18. I just found myself getting angrier and angrier at Amanda Palmer… Which is shame as both her and Sinead have such great music. I’d be interested to hear which one you think is the Crone.

    Honestly, I like your response best and as someone who spend over a decade practicing something far less exciting to build a career I am in awe of your choices and spirit. And as I happen to be a hopeless folky at heart I will bookmark your store and buy it sound unheard. Bonus.

    Thank you

    • The “Crone” in Celtic mythology/folklore isn’t a bad or spiteful character . . . she’s just as often the “grandma” dispensing wise advice, depending on the circumstances. I honestly don’t know what Miss Cyrus has been doing, or what the other two women have said about it . . . I’m not into modern music, especialy not modern rock. Are any of these women doing something *wrong,* either morally or something harmful? Maybe behaviors need to be judged. But maiden/mother/crone are just stages-of-life, with accompanying accumulation of wisdom, not judgments.

  19. What a great post! It is time to stop the gender describing –a male musician indeed yet writing “female” musician is common place. Now I will have to go check out your music. Hope you continue to perform and sing.

  20. Great read. Thank you. Particularly love the line about naked train wrecks. Sadly, I suspect we are going to see another in the not-to-distant future with Ms. Cyrus.
    Good luck to you and your family!

  21. Bravo Raina Rose! Beautifully written, funny, great for anyone to read to anyone-not just girls and not just young people and all around the world. And by the way living in Canada I can only every think of the wrecking ball, chain and sledge hammer being frozen…you may want to keep that in mind too not just the clean part. Will be checking you out and spreading your words and song! All the best from a badger

  22. Hi Raina-Rose, thank you for being kind and just and clearing some of the debris out of Miss Cyrus’ way. She is finding her way as we all do and have. Stay beautiful. I’m going to look up that little song of yours. Jen
    PS. Breast is best go tell it on the mountain.

  23. I love what your wrote, so profound for women of all ages. I saw you sing once in Fayetteville. I am Amelia’s mom and Ruthie’s grandmother, you have been Ruthie’s idol for a long time and anyone Ruthie loves, I love. Thank you again for posting.
    Sandy

  24. I haven’t heard your music, but if your writing is anything to go by, I will be checking it out. Thanks for putting your voice out there.

  25. Well said Raina. I’m not a musician but I am a “MALE” music lover. I give my utmost respect to you 3 ladies and all women who have had the courage to sing and speak their mind to establish an honorable place in this crazy male dominated society. One look at the state of our government says it all. But change is on the horizon.
    I can’t wait to see you “strut your stuff” at Godfrey Daniels in a couple of weeks.
    Be safe in that minivan.
    Peace and love

  26. You are a beautiful writer. I was raised by a single Mom, attended a Women’s college. I feel lucky to have been surrounded by strong, couragous women my entire life. My Mother was a english teacher, writer, editor, poet, and artist. I lost her to Breast Cancer in 2012 at the age of 64, I am 39. She was a special human being and she shaped my world. This piece you wrote reminds me so much of her, not only the sentiment but the way the words are spoken. I smile being reminded of the power of women. I smile knowing that there are women like you in the world, who speak with an open heart and clear honest voice. What a lucky little person you have there, to have a Mama like you. Thank you for sharing.

  27. As a 52 year old mother of girls you have expressed my thoughts exactly. Lately I have been surrounded by little more than “tut-tutting” and pursed lips when the subject of Miley comes up and I have failed to adequately explain my point of view. You have looked inside my mind, read my thoughts and put them to paper (or keyboard I guess)….all I need do now is send this to my friends and tell them….”this is what I was trying to say”!! Thank you for your eloquence.

  28. It does my heart so much good to read what you wrote. You couldn’t be more right on, in my opinion! Also, you turn a phrase so well, now I just have to check out your music! Rock on, lady!

  29. Love this Miss Raina. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. It is really inspiring. I’ve loved your music and now I love your writing. Awesome and powerful. Rock on, Mama!!

    Love,
    Judith Avers

  30. Love your letter, your honesty and your pic nursing your child. I spent 13 years on the road with 3 sons (pregnant, nursing, toddling, schooling) it’s the best career I could have ever dreamed of. I am excited to hear more from your Voice. All the best! Tajci.net/blog/

  31. Oh wow, what made me click in this and read it was the picture if you breast feeding, and I’m so happy I did. This is a great piece, inspiring and validating for me. I’m a musician, a songwriter-bassist. I toured all over the country for several years with my husband, to support his creative dream and our family. I breast fed while singing onstage, and through the night in so many friends homes and hotels rooms I can’t count. Now I have two beautiful boys, and am just about to ween the youngest (nearly 3) and have just finished my first full record in 8 years and feel like it’s the best work I’ve ever done by far. Don’t know that I would get naked on a wrecking ball to promote it – but I wish there was something as effective without at the same time being so self-degrading. Thank you for sharing your sharp insights and reminding me that I have the strength to do it all.

  32. Just another note to say how fabulously insightful I think this is… I shared with a few more people. Keep writing Raina. Music, blogs, whatever. Your voice is stunning on all counts.
    xoxo

  33. Really lovely to come across your letter – I have been following this drama online – when i read yours, drama turns into wholesome honesty through your everyday life for being a musician, a women and a mother – I sing and write since i was 14 years old, happily have performed created music for years – I now am a mother of 2 (12 and 3) who have nourished them through breastfeeding, singing and love here in Ireland with my partner. On the side i lead people in song through community choirs.
    Thank you for your words, insight and honesty. I may buy your album like Julie Above, Love Tembre

  34. Raina,

    As a dad of two little girls, I loved what you said. I watch the way some women act around each other and I get scared for my daughters’ future. They are funny, smart and creative and I don’t want that to be hampered by any gender infighting.

    If women made the decisions, we would have more communication and fewer wars.

    Great letter.

    Joe C

  35. “I hope if she ever has kids she lets those boobs fly when she breast feeds. That’s my favorite way to expose myself.”

    YES. This whole letter was pure perfection, but this was my favorite bit. Thanks for writing it AND thanks for showing off your boobs to nurture your babe – we need more proud mamas like you.

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  38. I loved the entirety of your post and as a midwife smiled from ear to ear at the bit about firing your manager to pay the midwife and again at the breastfeeding and letting your boobs fly. Thanks for being a badass mama, empowered, self expressed woman, and inspiring musician! If I weren’t a midwife I’d want to be a folksinger.
    P.S: This comment took me 15 minutes to write as I had to intervene in 5 of today’s inevitable 150 “events” between my 2 and 4 year old.

  39. Would love to make a tongue-in-cheek sexist remark here just to break up the monotony of love you inspire. But all I’ve got is <> Safe travels. — Fran

  40. The bottom line is, NOBODY should have to tell Miley some of the things she said were wrong. She should’ve recognized that on her own by now. I can see why Miley felt attacked. I understand that. I can even understand saying something you wish you could take back. But to me, Miley was wrong because she had to actually take it from her mind then type it and send it.

  41. Having read this I believved it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy too put this
    information together. I once again find myself spending way too much time botth reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was stjll worthwhile!

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