There are quite a few great queer Florida singers, but the pandemic made it hard to find them. Instead of going to a bar to listen to live performances, people were sheltered from music. Fortunately for Facebook, queer female musicians from Florida and other states were able to connect through the Queer Women in Music (QWiM) Facebook community during shutdown.
The organization has since held events and online concerts to showcase some of the best female talent in the country. Several women featured reside right here in Florida.
What is QWiM?
It’s never easy to be a musician. But after Covid-19 took the country by storm, musicians had more challenges than usual. With no venues at which to play, some of the best talent was left with no one to listen. One of the biggest obstacles for queer Florida singers was the lack of Pride festivals. As festivals postponed for the year, musicians had no way to expose themselves to the public. Their passionate audience was almost impossible to find and reach.
QWiM was organized by New Jersey resident Rita Amethyst. A social worker by trade and a music lover by passion, Amethyst was devastated when concerts were shut down around the world. “Music and listening to live music connects me with others, and reduces any social inhibitions,” says Amethyst. “Music is my life. It connects me with the world and musicians. And it’s a great way to socialize with others. After pride festivals were shut down, I started a Facebook page for the many queer female artists throughout the U.S.”
Instead of waiting for bars, festivals, and venues to open back up, musicians could perform on a live stream. Thanks to Amethyst and QWiM, musicians and their audience can connect virtually. In volunteering their time to perform, talented musical artists spread joy and expanded their audience base. The platform also became a way to network and spread information about LGBTQ singers from coast to coast.
QWiM’s June 28, 2020 virtual concert even attracted media attention from the New York Times.
About the 2021 Concert
QWiM celebrated with a two-day in May of 2021. The annual celebration kicked off on Sunday May 24th online. The purpose was to commemorate the year of performance and networking that was all thanks to the QWiM platform. Best of all, fans were able to listen from the comfort of their home.
The celebration featured LGBTQ performers from all over the country. However, the state of Florida made a strong representation during the event. The following artists have close ties to Florida and performed at the QWiM annual celebration.
Off White Betties
The Off White Betties is made up of partners Lisa Robertson and Jean Stewart. Currently, they live in the Orlando region and they have been living in the Sunshine state for about five years.
For over two decades, the Off White Betties have been playing great music. Before the pandemic, they often played at Central Florida bars and restaurants. The band plays cover songs from various genres and decades, and never cease to appease their listeners.
Originally from Kentucky, Lisa Noe is now a Florida resident. She received accolades for best singer-songwriter from Creative Loafing Best of the Bay in 2020 and has been performing since she was 13.
Lisa will perform has an impressive history that includes appearing on NPR and the Melissa Etheridge Cruise lineup. With a background in classical music and opera, Lisa plays healing music that showcases her incredible vocals.
Born in St. Pete, Christie Lenée is a singer songwriter who is internationally known for her fingerstyle guitar. When you listen to her, you’ll notice sounds that include virtuosic instrumentals to transcendental folk pop. In 2019, Music Radar Magazine awarded her Acoustic Guitarist of the Year.
Christie Lenée has toured all over the world. During the height of the pandemic, she started working on her solo album as well as a few collaborative tracks.
Celebrate Florida Queer Singers
Even with venues starting to open back up and Pride festivals returning, QWiM is an incredible resource to singers and listeners alike. Support Florida queer singers and every other musician who sings their heart out for the world to hear, especially during difficult times.