Guitar Girl'd: Women’s International Music Network and NewBay Media Present the She Rocks Awards

This past Friday, I did something I never dreamed I’d do. I hosted an awards show honoring women in the music industry. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life!

As part of the production of the awards show, I also launched a new organization aimed at supporting and uniting female musicians, producers, engineers, executives, publicists, managers, teachers, students and everyone in between. The Women’s International Music Network (or as I like to call it, The WiMN), has been a twinkling in my eye for a while, and Friday’s She Rocks Music Awards marked its official launch!

This groundbreaking event was developed as a partnership between The Women’s International Music Network and our very own NewBay Media (publishers of Guitar World and many other music media outlets). Its aim was to bring together women in the industry to celebrate and support each other.

The WiMN breakfast hit the ground running 8:30 a.m. Friday, January 25. Yes, I heard a lot of groans about the time of day, and Orianthi even confessed that she has never played that loud that early in the day, BUT it was truly worth getting out of bed.

Ali Handal opened the event with her gorgeously performed singer/songwriter versions of recognizable rock songs and some well-crafted originals thrown in for good measure. The author of the new Hal Leonard book Guitar For Girls, Ali is committed to bringing more girls into the guitar-playing fold!

After a brief introduction by yours truly, vocal coach Susan Carr, developer of the app The Art of Screaming, got the oxygen flowing with a vocal warm up that had the crowd standing (and breathing!).

Then I launched into the awards presentation by honoring producer/songwriter/artist Holly Knight with what I called the She Rocks “Mad Skills” Award. Holly is a Grammy-award winning songwriter with hits like “Love is a Battlefield” for Pat Benetar, “Never” for Heart, “Simply the Best” for Tina Tuner, “Ragdoll” for Aerosmith and so much more. She gave a heartfelt keynote speech that launched the remainder of the awards ceremony.

Up next was the amazing Orianthi, guitarist, singer and songwriter. She was honored with the She Rocks “Inspire” award, as she has inspired female players everywhere to kick some guitar behind!

Then I was so pleased to present the She Rocks “Vision” award to the president of Daisy Rock Girl Guitars, Tish Ciravolo. The She Rocks “Icon” award was granted to Mary Peavey, president of Peavey Electronics. And the She Rocks “Champion” award was presented to Laura Taylor, Senior VP of Guitar Center.

Finally, I did a little something that was my favorite part of the event. I presented two awards to women who did not know they were being honored. Women who work tirelessly because they feel the need to push the cause forward, without expectation of recognition. The She Rocks “Endurance” Award was presented to Carla DeSantis Black, publisher of the fabulous but now defunct ROCKRGRL Magazine and founder of Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women, or MEOW.

And the She Rocks “Next Generation” Award was given to a fabulous young talent who has recently entered our industry and has shown a commitment to excellence, Pauline France of Fender Musical Instruments. Yes, I almost cried. It felt so good to let these women know how much their efforts were appreciated and recognized!!

We closed the She Rocks Awards with a decidedly perfect cherry on top of the feel good cake. Guitarist Orianthi performed with a trio consisting of Nik West on bass and Brittany Maccarello on drums. She truly did rock with an amazing song from her new album Heaven in this Hell, which will release on Robo Records on March 12, 2013. And a ripping finale of ACDC’s “Back in Black.” It was loud and proud, and it personified the fact that women can rock, any time, anywhere! Hell yeah!

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Photos: Jimmy Hubbard

Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Peavey, Jammit, Notion Music, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the founder of the Women in Music Network at, producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band Summer Music Project. More at

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Laura B. Whitmore

Laura B. Whitmore is a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, writing for, Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network, she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.