Hard-rocking women

Women Who Rock gives a fist pump to Halifax’s musical- and business-minded ladies.

Whether she's performing on Canadian Idol or at Club 1668, Naomi-Joy Blackhall-Butler sways her hips, flips her hair and belts out husky melodies. Before the Aquestrya singer took the stage last Saturday, she chatted in the dim light of a closed Chinese restaurant. The temptress in a red dress and matching headband doesn't fit the cookie-cutter image of a mom who just gave birth to twins three months ago.

"Society tells me I just have to work a nine-to-five job and raise my babies," Blackhall-Butler, also the mother of three, says. "I think I can actually develop my talents, and I think I can use them to inspire people, inspire my children. I have a five-year-old daughter and I want her to know there's nothing that you can't do."

This Saturday, Aquestrya will perform at Coconut Grove for Women Who Rock, an event Blackhall-Butler conceptualized a year ago to celebrate local, progressive women in alternative music.

"It's such a male-dominated genre in the city," she says. "We need to find who all those edgy women are who are fronting bands, and we need to get them some attention."

Women in business were the next logical addition---the event will also showcase businesses owned or run by women, including Sexy Girl, Venus Envy, Orphanage Clothing and Adept Tattoos.

The singer hopes local female role models will inspire and empower others.

"Just because we're mothers and we're women doesn't mean we have to fit into the stereotype of what our lives should be," Blackhall-Butler says.

Unfortunately, as a woman, and an attractive one, too, the singer says she has to work harder to prove to her predominantly male audience that she also has talent. Front men, she says, don't have to work as hard.

"Our band combats that submissive attitude about women just by looking at us. I'm the front woman. I'm the face of the band. And other female-fronted rock bands in the city; we show that we can rock just as hard as the men can. It's not just a boys' club. We can be just as strong and musically skilled."

Proceeds from the Women Who Rock event will benefit Adsum House. The shelter was the natural choice, she says: strong women role models benefiting others in need.

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