Illustration by Maren Slobody
Illustration by Maren Slobody

The Valentine Songologues benefit concert, supporting the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center (WAWC), seeks to gather women and men in solidarity against domestic violence.

The concert will be held on Feb. 16 at the Resource Center for Nonviolence at 8 p.m., for a fee of $15 to $25. However, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Derived from Eve Ensler’s, “The Vagina Monologues,” the Valentine Songologues provides a stage for feminist discourse through the medium of song. The event is inspired by the V-Day Movement, a global movement started by Ensler, to end violence against women and girls. As an alternative to a traditional Valentine’s Day, V-Day is also meant to stand for “victory” and “vagina,” as stated on the movement’s web page.

Although the “Valentine Songologues” is not directly sponsored by the V-Day movement, the event shares the same goal to help end violence and support women.

As strong supporters of the women’s center, local singer-songwriters and feminist activists Amanda West and Leah Ray Mendez saw the holiday as an opportune time to bring awareness to domestic violence around the world, so they decided to put together a show for WAWC.

“I’m really passionate about women’s empowerment,” West said. “I wanted to support a local women’s organization and it seemed like a great movement.”

Although the concert is focused around women, male participation is just as important for the event and the V-Day movement.

“Something that is overlooked is that the solidarity from men is vital,” performer Mana Maddy said. “They’re human causes, just like any social justice causes.”

The concert consists of half-hour sets scheduled for each act, including Californian singer-songwriters West, Mendez, Mana Maddy, Pete Solomon, Marya Stark and Lily Wilson.

“I’m hoping that people will come and get to hear new music,” Mendez said. “All of the women will collaborate and be a source of inspiration. It’s also a time for couples to be romantic and for people who feel heart-centered. It will be an intimate experience where we’ll be with the audience.”

All of the artists are performing songs and stories related to women and the movement toward social change.

“I’m grateful to be performing with other women who can angle support for women who have been hurt,” Stark said. “[We can] encourage them to be uplifted so we can bring that balance and move toward a different type of relationship [between women and their partners].”

As the producers behind this event, West and Mendez hope to hold more benefit concerts like this in the years to come.

“This is expanding the possibilities for these kinds of events,” West said. “Women are amazing and it’s really important to give space and opportunity for the movement.”

What the concert hopes to emphasize is that issues of violence against women affect everyone at every level.

“It affects all of us and we’re just trying to put energy toward organizations that are making a difference,” West said.