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Jearlyn Steele to host St. Paul celebration of 90 years of women’s suffrage

As recounted in this enjoyable column by Gail Collins in the New York Times, quoting the research of feminist Carrie Chapman Catt, the struggle to secure the right to vote for women in America involved “56 referendum campaigns directed at male voters, plus ‘480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendment to voters, 47 campaigns to get constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms and 19 campaigns with 19 successive congresses.’ ” 

(The enjoyable part of the column was in the crazy-quilt chain of events that eventually got suffrage passed in August 1920.)

On Wednesday night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, a cornucopia of cool females will entwine art and politics in celebration of that momentous event 90 years ago when the voting rights of women were belatedly enshrined in our Constitution. Known as Women’s City Cabaret, the event — which promises to be a mixture of “outspoken music and audacious stories that our suffragist ancestors would be proud to hear” — will be hosted by Jearlyn Steele. It will feature a trio of local jazz mainstays, vocalists Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan and pianist Lori Dokken, plus accordionist/pianist Nona Marie Invie of Dark Dark Dark, folkie Andra Suchy and the Twin Cities Music Choir.

Here is Evingson singing “Peel Me a Grape” at a gig in Seattle.

Here is Duncan doing a Nina Simone tribute.

Here is Invie on solo piano.

A different sort of musical wordplay will be provided by poets Carol Connolly and Heid E. Erdich. Other guests will include World War II pilot Elizabeth Strohfus, and Keesha Gaskins of the invaluable League of Women Voters, who will be awarded special honors. There’ll be an “audio postcard” from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a report by NPR staffer Suzanne Pekow and most likely a surprise cameo or two. To bring the chronology full circle, members of a local Girl Scout troop — potential voters, every one — will greet the audience and escort them to their seats.

Here is Connolly (beginning about 1:25) delivering a poem to commemorate the inauguration of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s second term.

The Women’s City Cabaret at the Fitzgerald Theater, Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $22.50 including the facility fee.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Laura Wood on 08/18/2010 - 08:12 am.

    Thank you for the article. However, the name of the choir is the Twin Cities Women’s Choir.

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