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Sunstar shines a light on the talents of women

| Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A lot of music scenes and styles tend to be boys' clubs, unintentionally or otherwise. So it's worth noting, once in awhile, how much great, original music is made by women -- and what better time to do that than March -- Women's History Month?

The Sunstar Music Festival -- mostly in East Liberty's Kelly-Strayhorn Theater -- casts an impressively wide net over female-made music, ranging from the Indian-inflected bhangra beats of DJ Rekha on Friday to the timeless bluegrass/string band music of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops on Saturday.

"It's about bringing this diverse community of independent female artists together," says Jennifer Sciullo, audience-development director for the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. "That involves the local artists in town, as well as the national acts we have coming through. It's about providing this platform for these women to gather together and share their talents with one another, and the public."

Pittsburgh-based performers like rapper Kellee Maize, poet Christina Springer and DJ Mary Mack are featured, along with national acts like acclaimed indie-rock chaunteuse Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond).

There are workshops for young girls interested in music, artists talks and dance parties. In the Kelly-Strayhorn lobby, there will be an artists market, showcasing jewelry, clothing and handmade crafts by local female entrepreneurs.

There was a previous Sunstar festival in 2009, but nothing last year. The organizers hope it will become an annual event.

'Sunstar Music Festival: A Celebration of Women in Music'

When: Through Saturday

Admission: Varies for individual events. Passes: $50; $25 for artists, students and those in the 15206 ZIP code

Where: Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, East Liberty, or otherwise noted

Details: 800-838-3006

THURSDAY

• "Sunstar Social," 5 p.m. Music by The Sectionals featuring Erika May. Free

• Rebecca Walker, 6 p.m. Author of "To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism," lecture, Q&A and book signing. $15

• Samita Sinha, 8 p.m. New York City composer/performer brings an experimental, avant-garde approach to traditional Indian classical music. $15

• Shara Worden/My Brightest Diamond, 9 p.m. With singer/songwriter Bridgette Perdue, poets Christina Springer and Kelli Stevens Kane and DJ Mary Mack. At the Shadow Lounge, East Liberty. $10

Friday

• "Sunstars in the Making," 3 to 5 p.m. An after-school program of diverse music for young women, including Alumni Theater Company, Dr. Goddess, Kaitlin Hunter of Dreams of Hope, Kellee Maize, Shaina Wallace of Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K., SolSis, Stacyee Pearl. $5

• "Bhangra Bash" with DJ Rekha, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. $15

Saturday

• Artist Talk: Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops, 2 p.m. Free

• Carolina Chocolate Drops, 8 p.m. With ABAFASI, DJ Ayanah Moor, Sonji, Vanessa German. $25

• Festival Closing Party, 10:30 p.m. At Ava Lounge, East Liberty. Free

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