Pledges Made, Promises Kept Part 4: Albums Policy

New year, new start here on The Daffodil Perspective with a first of its kind albums policy.

Continuing the anti-racist, decentring whiteness campaign on the show the next step was to look at the albums I’ve showcased on the show.

Over 80% of multiple composer albums featured no women of colour.

I showcased over 40 albums last year, 90% featured only white women.

This is a problem not just on the show but in the music industry as a whole.

I research albums of female composers all the time and I’m always frustrated to see so many hundreds of albums of women composers that are only white women. It’s so difficult to find albums that have women of colour, particularly black and indigenous women.

In 2019 just about 10% of albums solely of female composers featured at least one woman of colour.

Out of thousands of new classical albums released there were 157 albums of female composers. 143 contained just white women.

That’s 90%. And that’s just how many albums have women of colour. The actual proportion of their music is much, much less.

Only 14 albums released in the whole of 2019 contained at least one woman of colour. These included the symphonies and art songs of Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Eleanor Alberga, 2 albums of Chen Yi, plus other albums containing a mix of female composers as well as some tokenistic albums.

2020’s results are equally as stark. Lara Downes series on Florence Price, Errollyn Wallen’s E.P Peace on Earth, Spark Catchers and Shi-Hei Chen’s portrait album are some of the handful (and it is just a handful) of recordings released last year featuring women of colour. Halfway through the year the number was around 10%, same as 2019. 90% of albums of women featured exclusively white women. I’ve not counted the albums from the second half of the year but there weren’t many, none that stood out, and only a handful if any at all. (Wallen’s E.P. Peace on Earth a rare gem).

Presto Music’s annual Recordings of the Year 2020 featured 10% of albums either all female composers or gender balanced yet only 1 album out of 100 featured 1 piece by a woman of colour. (Here We Are by Hermes Experiment featured a piece by the great Errollyn Wallen).

Women of colour made up 0.1% of the Top Albums chosen by Presto. Women of colour made up 1% of the music by women on Presto’s list.

This is horrific.

A women’s music movement must champion all women equally otherwise it’s not women’s music. It’s white women’s music and is white supremacist. As such the women’s music movement of the past few years is often horrifically white female dominated. So many people and organisations work to champion white women and white women only. Women of colour, particularly black and indigenous women are completely excluded or included merely as tokens, so often never included fairly or equitably.

And then the black music movements are often sexist and gender biased, most recordings of black composers, African-American composers and composers of colour in general feature only men or just include women as tokens. So women of colour are excluded from both fronts.

The Daffodil Perspective works to champion all women equally. This shouldn’t need to be stated so explicitly but there we are. The Daffodil Perspective no longer partners with organisations that only champion white women.

With this in mind I’m pleased to announce a first albums policy on The Daffodil Perspective.

Solo composer albums

The album must be of a female composer. The Daffodil Perspective does not showcase solo composer albums of male composers. Solo composer albums by white women will make up a maximum of 50% the number of solo composer albums featured over the season.

Multiple female composer albums with 4 or more composers

Albums that feature exclusively white women will only be accepted if the album consists of music solely pre 1900.

Albums of music post 1900 must feature at least 1 woman of colour. (N.B. unless era and country specificity naturally excludes them without bias or discrimination. Albums solely of music from mainland Europe and from the UK pre 1950 may fall into this category.) 

Albums of music solely by American women must feature at least one black woman.

Albums that feature solely living female composers must feature at least 1 black, asian or ethnically diverse female composer.

Albums of music solely by living British composers must feature at least 1 black, asian and or ethnically diverse composer

Multiple female composer albums of 8 or more composers 

Must feature at least 2 women of colour.

Albums that feature exclusively white women will only be accepted if the album consists of music solely pre 1900.

Women of colour must make up at least 20% of composers and airtime on the album.

Mixed gender multiple composer albums of 4 or more composers

Women must make up at least 25% of the composers and performance time on the album

Albums of music solely by American composers must feature at least 1 black composer.

Albums of music solely by living British composers must feature at least 1 black, asian and or ethnically diverse composer

Mixed gender multiple composer albums of 6 or more composers

Women must make up at least 25% of the composers and performance time on the album

Must feature at least one Black, asian and ethnically diverse composer.

Mixed gender multiple composer albums of 8 or more composers

Black, asian and ethnically diverse composers must make up at least 25% of the composers and performance time on the album.

Note: Showcasing is not the same as playing. The Daffodil Perspective includes men and women of all hues on every show, including white men and white women. The recordings from which the music is sourced are naturally varied and unfortunately mostly not gender balanced or racially inclusive. I do not usually talk about these recordings on air. This is for albums that are showcased. This means championing them, stating the title of the album on air and talking about it, promoting it, encouraging listening and buying of the album as opposed to just being played, maybe a cursory mention of the album title.

As with the content of the show The Daffodil Perspective female content is 50% women of colour (25% in total) so the number of albums showcased will reflect this.

The Daffodil Perspective will only showcase albums in proportion to the composers included on the show. Albums with exclusively white women will make up a maximum of 50% the number of albums showcased on the show over the season.

This policy will take immediate effect and will be in place until the start of the the show’s 4th season in November 2021, at which point it will be re-examined. But, and I cannot stress this enough, Black, asian and ethnically diverse artists will continue to be included fairly and equitably in perpetuity on The Daffodil Perspective.

This albums policy will be evaluated at the beginning of The Daffodil Perspective’s 4th season, with a view to consistent, permanent, fair and equitable inclusion.

Elizabeth de Brito

Producer of The Daffodil Perspective

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