All Saint’s Day: St. Vincent’s Big Win for Women in Art-Rock

Annie Clark’s been making waves in the art-rock scene since 2006 under the name St. Vincent.  At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, she claimed her first Grammy for Best Alternative Album, the first female solo-artist to do so since Sinead O’Connor in 1991. She triumphed over the fierce competition of Jack White, Alt-J, and Arcade Fire, and accepted the award while on world tour in Australia. She’s been touring non-stop since 2014, and if you saw her perform at Stage AE back in April you know how magnificent her performances are. She co-ordinates dance moves while playing guitar and adjusting effect pedals. She’s intense, she’s talented, and she’s out there doing her thing.

St. Vincent can’t be bothered by people who say her music’s weird and unusual—to her ugliness is its own type of power. To write music that challenges expectations and norms, yet keeps you coming back despite yourself, is her specialty. In an interview with  tUnE-yArDs’ Merill Garbus she once said “I feel like every time somebody asks ‘what’s it like to be a woman in music’ the only difference is, you get asked ‘what’s it like to be a woman in music.” She strives for the control of her narrative, to not be fenced in by reporters into being the poor girl in a boy’s industry. It seems she’d rather teach an interviewer a few of her soccer tricks, or talk about that one time she wandered naked through a desert, than follow a gendered line of questioning.

Respecting this, I’ll only say once more how great it is for a female solo-artist to take a Best Alternative Album again. For artists like Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Bjork to be nominated multiple times over decades to no avail, and for all aspiring Indie-Rock artists, to see a 24-year draught in female winners come to an end is a big deal. For St. Vincent, the Grammy’s an honor that’s being mailed home so her mother can display it in the living room. For decades we’ve lived in a world where women write the year’s best albums, it’s important for the Grammy’s to acknowledge this, but you can’t put your life on hold for an award show. She has to pack her bags in Australia, do a show in Taiwan, then three in Japan closing off February, before doing a South-American leg in March.

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