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Songbirds migrating from Nashville to Shelter Island

Hatching an all-female round-robin concert series

Songbirds: songs and the stories behind them.
Songbirds: songs and the stories behind them.

When Arizona native Ashley E. Norton moved to Nashville, she landed an interesting gig hosting “songwriter rounds,” gatherings which featured groups of three or four songwriters on a stage. They rotated down the line, not only trading off songs, but also the stories behind them. She quickly learned that finding artists to play those rounds was no problem. “I was booked-out three months in advance, and I didn’t say yes to everybody,” says Norton, who estimates there were at least ten other weekly, songwriters’ nights at different Nashville venues at the same time.

By 2020,Norton had landed in Ramona. “All of a sudden, I just kind of wanted to play with women,” she says. “I’ve been in bands with men my whole life. I was like, ‘You know what? I want to just focus on women,’ especially because I found out all these crazy numbers about how under-represented women are. Not that there are fewer women musicians, just that we’re less represented. Especially in the bigger musical worlds.” She started an all-female band called Lady Psychiatrist Booth and threw together one-off shows in San Diego and Arizona which featured herself and other female singer-songwriters, trading off songs and stories in a format similar to the Nashville events. The success of those “Songbirds” shows led to a monthly Songbirds Of Ramona Ranch series residency at Ramona Ranch Winery. And a new coastal variation, The Songbirds Of Shelter Island series, took flight in July at Humphrey’s Backstage Live, where Norton was joined by Sara Petite and Gaby Aparicio.

Past Event

Songbirds Of Shelter Island

Says Norton, “If you really give yourself a chance to listen to these artists — artists who you have heard play these songs in the corners of bars with their bands, and where you can’t hear all their lyrics because there’s other stuff going on — you’re going to experience listening to music in a whole new way.” The next Songbirds Of Shelter Island concert takes place at Humphreys Backstage on September 22, and again on October 18.

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Songbirds: songs and the stories behind them.
Songbirds: songs and the stories behind them.

When Arizona native Ashley E. Norton moved to Nashville, she landed an interesting gig hosting “songwriter rounds,” gatherings which featured groups of three or four songwriters on a stage. They rotated down the line, not only trading off songs, but also the stories behind them. She quickly learned that finding artists to play those rounds was no problem. “I was booked-out three months in advance, and I didn’t say yes to everybody,” says Norton, who estimates there were at least ten other weekly, songwriters’ nights at different Nashville venues at the same time.

By 2020,Norton had landed in Ramona. “All of a sudden, I just kind of wanted to play with women,” she says. “I’ve been in bands with men my whole life. I was like, ‘You know what? I want to just focus on women,’ especially because I found out all these crazy numbers about how under-represented women are. Not that there are fewer women musicians, just that we’re less represented. Especially in the bigger musical worlds.” She started an all-female band called Lady Psychiatrist Booth and threw together one-off shows in San Diego and Arizona which featured herself and other female singer-songwriters, trading off songs and stories in a format similar to the Nashville events. The success of those “Songbirds” shows led to a monthly Songbirds Of Ramona Ranch series residency at Ramona Ranch Winery. And a new coastal variation, The Songbirds Of Shelter Island series, took flight in July at Humphrey’s Backstage Live, where Norton was joined by Sara Petite and Gaby Aparicio.

Past Event

Songbirds Of Shelter Island

Says Norton, “If you really give yourself a chance to listen to these artists — artists who you have heard play these songs in the corners of bars with their bands, and where you can’t hear all their lyrics because there’s other stuff going on — you’re going to experience listening to music in a whole new way.” The next Songbirds Of Shelter Island concert takes place at Humphreys Backstage on September 22, and again on October 18.

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