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Women’s Revolutions Per Minute (WRPM)


“Music was my main occupation even though it didn’t make me any money. That happened because having been to the States I’d come back with some music, I’d been to the Michigan Music festival, and met the women who were then running WRPM () – Nicolle Freny (an American, living here) and Teal Thompson – and then I got a phone call from my friend Mary McDonald who told me that it was my duty to take over WRPM as Nicolle had cancer and they were looking for someone to take it over and had decided that I was the person to do it. I chatted to Nicolle and Teal and ‘’ who were a two woman band, and some other people, and discovered that ‘Wholesome Trucking’ took wholefoods from London up to Manchester and Leeds and Liverpool via Birmingham, so there was a ready made transport system for moving things around. It then went back to London, stopping off at in Birmingham, so I would go there with these boxes of records, which were then taken to radical bookshops which I was selling them to, so I was in Birmingham which was the centre, so this is networking ,making coalitions where appropriate. So I took on WRPM and expanded it a lot and ran it for 20 years and went from mainly serving radical bookshops, to mainly running a mail order service as gradually radical bookshops began to die, and Waterstones came in and went with the top 10% of the radical books and not bother with the rest”.

“That was a lot of fun, it was called ‘’, but most of it was lesbian, and I expanded to include classical music when available, and folk music because I liked it, it’s much easier to sell things you like. Whenever there was a festival I would go along, and women’s Conferences, so a lot of people knew me as ‘that women who stood behind a stall and played music’. I was fortunate to be there when there was a big upsurge in choirs, and women making music etc. so it was a good time to be part of that. What I always struggled with was getting music into the mainstream, so I went round bookshops and Virgin Records, trying to push stuff in. I did WRPM for 20 years and very much enjoyed being self-employed, that was pretty hard, I had a little while of having someone work for me but I wasn’t making enough money! I’ve now discovered that I prefer being in an organisation. I would periodically experience the loneliness of having no-one else to make a difficult decision with, now I have a Board of Trustees to make the final decision.”

Contributed by: Caroline Hutton, 51

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