Austin-based musician and performing singer-songwriter Lurleen Ladd is becoming the standard bearer for female musicians over 40 who are in a similar space. She started a dialogue and connected with several women nationwide last December when she released her second CD.
She’s been in corporate America, ran several non-profits, and as an entrepreneur but only “came out as a musician after I was forty years old. It was difficult for me to stand up and claim my artistic self. I struggled with that for many reasons, mainly because I felt I needed permission to pursue what made me happy.”
I conducted a nationwide search last year to find an opening act for the live performance of her latest CD. A great response to what music meant to the women who submitted their interest to perform proved Ladd’s own experiences about the challenges and obstacles women faced. Music brought them back to themselves. Music was the glue that held them together.
So moved by their stories, Lurleen chose two women to perform – one from upstate New York and the other from Nashville. It got her thinking that there must be more women like her who needed voice and opportunities because they came to music late in their lives.
She hopes “women hear the clarion call of their passion for music. While several organizations serve women in music, who is talking and connecting with women over 40?”, she questions. She wants to fill that gap in the market. Being in the media and entertainment industry at 40 presents many challenges.
“But isn’t this true for many sectors? I inquire.
“Exactly. We love watching a precocious talent on America’s Got Talent who is 13. As a culture, we approve of parents who push their 8-year-olds to apply their talent and grace. Unfortunately, that grace is not extended to adult learners. That’s why it’s difficult and why I found it hard to come to music at the ripe age of 37.”
“The weight of the world and their expectations that I should’ve figured out earlier that I was a musician were unbelievable.”
To that end, Lurleen hosted what may become an industry standard with a panel discussion at Antone’s on March 31, 2023. The talent included: Kathy Valentine, formerly of the Go Gos; Tameca Jones, an R&B and soul singer; Sue Foley, Canadian blues guitarist and singer; Amy Edwards, a podcast host with a long music career, founder of BestYOU School, helping anyone step into an ageless mindset, The industry speakers included: Suronda Robinson, CEO of Austin Woman Magazine, Thea Wood, President and Board of Directors of Herizon Foundation, and Mark Hallman, Producer, Engineer and Engineer, Jan Bozarth, Veteran writer/designer/producer of children’s media, games and music; Mallory Bellinger, GM of Antone’s Austin, Lisa Machac, Founder and Director of Omni Sound Project and a Music Producer with Little City Sounds.
Beneficiaries included the Clifford Antone Foundation https://cliffordantonefoundation.org/ and the Herizon Music Foundation https://herizonmusic.org/. WWIM’s mission is to help build and support a community of female musicians 40+ as they navigate the music industry and its challenges, continue to evolve as artists, and become successful businesswomen.
Lurleen has found her niche. Performing, writing, and serving others like herself in the music industry. In this age of Aquarius, she has managed to reinvent herself and make a dent in the lives of other women offering them different opportunities which are normally granted to their younger or male counterparts in the music industry.