Decades before indie labels were the norm, and years before women had any real access to the industry, Cris Williamson was busy changing the face of popular music. In 1975, the twenty-something former schoolteacher recorded The Changer And The Changed, for her brainchild, Olivia Records. the first woman-owned woman-focused record company. Her music and voice quickly became the soundtrack of a movement, and was the cornerstone of what would become known as “women’s music,” music created, performed, and marketed specifically to women. Today, that recording, The Changer and the Changed, remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time.
For Cris, the music became the vehicle for something larger. Her lyrics appear on a regular basis in books and thesis papers. Her albums are part of the curriculum for women’s studies courses, and thousands of people who may not even know her name join their voices in “Song of the Soul” around campfires and places of worship. She is embraced by women. She is sampled in hip-hop Her music is used by midwives welcoming life into the world, while hospice choirs sing her songs in tender sacred escort.
“She is often considered a treasure, passed hand-to-hand, person-to-person,” says the Boston Phoenix, “Williamson is an heroic character whose tireless activism continues.”
Says Bonnie Raitt, “The first time I heard Cris’ music, it was like hearing honey dripped on a cello… Cris has been a whole lot of women’s heroes — including mine.”
Today, with 30+ full albums to her credit, Cris continues to tour the acoustic circuit adding new material at each juncture. Her performance career includes three sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and the headlining of many of the great folk festivals, including Newport, Kerrville, Moab and Vancouver.
The songs and the celebration continue with the release of her 32nd album; her latest CD, Motherland!