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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 2, 2011

Iowa Women's Music Festival inspires alumna's success

Natalie Brown (photo, right) is a perfect example of what the Iowa Women's Music Festival (IWMF) is all about.

The 2002 University of Iowa School of Music alumna credits the festival with helping her develop into the accomplished musician she is today.

Brown, a violinist and current orchestra director at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, will perform New Age music with Jami Sieber at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, in Upper City Park in Iowa City at the 18th annual Iowa Women's Music Festival. Brown and Sieber will be featured on a slate of female musicians performing on the family friendly "Day Stage."

The musicians will perform from noon to 5:30 p.m. and American Sign Language interpreters will be available. The day performances are free, while the evening entertainment will require ticket purchase.

Prairie Voices Production, the Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) at the UI, Englert Theatre and Toyota of Iowa City are the main sponsors. To see the complete list of sponsors, visit

While local and regional talent will be featured, nationally recognized musicians will also be part of the festival.

Saturday evening's performance will begin at 8 p.m. at the Englert Theatre, 221 East Washington St. in Iowa City. The headline performer is singer-songwriter, musician and author Janis Ian (photo, left), who had to cancel her performance last year because of hand surgery. Tickets are available for $25, and can be purchased at the Englert Theatre box office, by phone at 319-688-2653, or online at

Brown said it is an honor to be part of a festival that draws talent from across the nation and that the festival has had a big influence on her life, professionally and personally.

"I have made great connections through the festival," Brown said. "The organizers and returning audience members are a close-knit and extremely supportive bunch."

Brown first performed at the festival in 2001 with her college group, The Trollies. Since then, she released her first full-length album this past November, titled "Violin Crossings."

The festival was created because female musicians, like Brown, were often overlooked because they were women, said Laurie Haag (photo, right), festival founder and WRAC program developer. She added that women were denied opportunities and not taken seriously.

The festival exposed Brown to a supportive audience through the help of festival organizers, and it also helped her make connections to other women musicians performing at the festival.

Haag said that Brown is the perfect example of what the festival is designed to do, and how important it is for women to see female musicians as role models for inspiration.

"She represents a culmination of what the festival has been about all these years, which is to support female musicians," Haag said.

"We seek to create an environment where they are taken seriously and treated as professionals, and to present them in a professional way to an audience which is eager to see and support performers they can relate to," Haag said. "What we've tried to do over the years is contribute to a culture that helps to incubate the talents of people who might not otherwise find support."

The festival, featuring a variety of music genres such as of folk, rock, new age, blues and world, will be the afternoon's featured entertainment at the park. Food and merchandise vendors will be available. Attendees should bring their own chairs and blankets for grass seating. The park is wheelchair accessible. Pets on leashes are welcome. A silent auction will be held to benefit Iowa Shares. In case of inclement weather, the rain location is The Mill Restaurant, 120 East Burlington St. in Iowa City.

For more information or special accommodations to attend the festival, contact WRAC at 319-335-1486. To view the complete schedule, visit

STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Laurie Haag, WRAC 319-335-1486,; Natalie Brown,; Lois Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer, Betsy Bates