It’s been a busy year for Jen Baron. Since launching Girls Rock S.B. (GRSB) in the fall of 2012, the 33-year-old mother of one has been charging full steam ahead in an attempt to get her newborn nonprof off the ground. Initially founded as a music camp to help empower young girls, GRSB has grown leaps and bounds since its inception. Now, in addition to summer-camp intensives, Baron is hosting year-round after-school programs for girls ages 6-17 that include semi-private music lessons, band practices, deejaying, ‘zine making, and much, much more.
“While we’re a music program for girls, that’s not really our core mission statement,” explained Baron over coffee last week. “We’re a self-empowerment program; we’re a self-confidence-building program. Music is the delivery system to facilitate it.”
A longtime songwriter and Santa Barbara native, Baron admits that she was never inclined to share her own music growing up, due to fear and low self-esteem. “I had all these feelings about not being good enough,” she said. “But over the course of my dad being sick and him encouraging me to record my music, and going into a studio and hearing people tell me they liked my music, I really started to believe in myself in a way I had never done before.”
Spurred by her own experience, Baron tapped into the Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA), an international support group that promotes female empowerment through music. Not long after, she was on a plane to Georgia to attend the annual GRCA conference. Six weeks later, GRSB was born. Currently, the nonprofit boasts more than 100 unpaid volunteers, who do everything from teach guitar and songwriting to lead workshops on media literacy and “punk rock yoga.” This Saturday, the girls of GRSB will host their second annual benefit at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Titled Push, the evening-length performance event is a cross-section of live music, dance, and silent auction. “It’s like Cirque du Soleil meets a killer rock concert,” Baron said. Participating dance groups include Ventura’s Airealistic Circus and Flying School, the Montecito School of Ballet, nebula Dance Lab, Luminario Ballet, Fusion Dance Company, Invertigo Dance Theatre, and Studio B Dance. Bands on the bill range from singer/songwriters like Jamey Geston, Brandi Letini, Kate Graves, and Sophie Rose to full-on bands like Stolen Thunder, Bear and Anchor, and The Fire Department. S.B. dancers Robin Bisio and Kaita Lepore will also perform.
“What I love to do as an artist, and what I’m trying to encourage our girls to do, is to push the boundaries of what you think you’re capable of doing, of what you think is possible in art,” she explained. “Our show is all about going against the grain, and that’s what makes it unique. That’s what makes it stand out.”
Girls Rock S.B. presents Push at the Marjorie Luke Theatre (721 E. Cota St.) on Saturday, March 22, at 7 p.m. A silent auction to raise funds for the organization takes place at 6 p.m. For tickets and more about GRSB, visit girlsrocksb.org.