Ginny Z Berson
Ginny Z Berson is a long-time political activist driven by a longing for justice. She was a member of The Furies-- a radical lesbian feminist separatist collective in Washington, D.C. that lived and worked collectively to develop lesbian feminist political thought and philosophy. They produced a mostly monthly newspaper, The Furies, that was distributed nationally and had a significant impact on women’s groups all over the U.S. Ginny was a regular contributor and member of the editorial staff. After The Furies broke up, Ginny pulled together a group of women in D.C. to begin visioning and planning what would become Olivia Records, the national women’s record company. She and her partner, the musician Meg Christian, were the initial driving force getting Olivia off the ground. Ginny stayed at Olivia for seven plus years, and during that time the Olivia collective produced records by Meg, Cris Williamson, BeBe K’Roche, Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Mary Watkins, a poetry album by Pat Parker and Judy Grahn, and Lesbian Concentrate—a “lesbianthology” in response to a rising wave of homophobia. After leaving Olivia in 1980, Ginny worked for many years in community radio---at KPFA-FM, Pacifica Radio, and the
National Federation of Community Broadcasters. She now works as Director of Outreach for World Trust Educational Services, an anti-racist educational organization that produces documentary films, curricula, workshops and trainings. She also does racial equity work in her neighborhood as part of Neighbors for Racial Justice.
A Radical Experiment in Women's Music
By Ginny Berson
The burgeoning lesbian and feminist movements of the '70s and '80s created an impetus to form more independent and equitable social and cultural institutions—bookstores, publishers, health clinics, and more—to support the unprecedented surge in women's arts of all kinds. Olivia Records was at the forefront of these models, not only recording and distributing women's music but also creating important new social spaces for previously isolated women and lesbians through concerts and festivals. Ginny Z. Berson, one of Olivia's founding members and visionaries, kept copious records during those heady days—days also fraught with contradictions, conflicts, and economic pitfalls. With great honesty, Berson offers her personal take on what those times were like, revisiting the excitement and the hardships of creating a fair and equitable lesbian-feminist business model—one that had no precedent.
PRAISE FOR OLIVIA ON THE RECORD
"Ginny Berson’s important memoir of building Olivia Records into a beloved lesbian institution is a timely narrative from a founding organizer. Ginny walks us through the politics, radical self-discovery, aching romantic tension, and quirky community organizing that characterized an era. In these chapters, we gain a front row seat to the collective “processing” that produced and distributed lesbian records, and meet the first generation of fans to experience women’s music as lesbian liberation."
—Bonnie J. Morris, PhD, author of Eden Built by Eves, The Disappearing L, and The Feminist Revolution