First Book To Celebrate Women Of Ska Music Has Release Date Announced

10 January 2023 | 12:49 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

"Women’s voices have been largely silent, until now. These women made space for the rest of us. They are incredibly inspiring, funny, and powerful."

(Supplied by Heather Augustyn)

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Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone And One Step Beyond, the first book to celebrate women of ska music, will be released this International Women's Day (8 March 2023). Written by ska music historian Heather Augustyn, the book features over 50 interviews with the women of ska bands that originated during the 2 Tone era of ska in the late 1970s through the 1980s. 

According to a press release, members of The Selecter, The Specials and The Special AKA, The Bodysnatchers, The Beat, The Go-Go’s, The Belle Stars, Bow Wow Wow, Amazulu, Dexys Midnight Runners, Fun Boy Three, The Mo-Dettes, The Deltones, The Swinging Cats, The Potato 5, Maroon Town, Bananarama, Splashdown, The Friday Club, Holly And The Italians, The Forest Hill Billies, The Lemons, The Loafers, and many more have their stories featured in the book.

"Women’s voices have been largely silent, until now," Augustyn noted. "These women made space for the rest of us. They are incredibly inspiring, funny, and powerful."

The women interviewed are singers, musicians, songwriters and composers, as well as managers and producers. Personal struggles, stories of empowerment in an era of silencing women, and throwbacks to gigs are tracked throughout Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone And One Step Beyond. While many of the artists in the book exclusively performed ska music, others experimented with different genres.

Rude Girls is Augustyn's eighth book on ska music, following Ska: An Oral History (2010), 2017's Alpha Boys School: Cradle Of Jamaican Music, Women in Jamaican Music (2020), Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation (2013), and more.

Ska is a music genre that began in Jamaica in the 1950s and led to rocksteady and reggae. The history of ska is often separated into three categories: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s, the 2-Tone revival of the 1970s that was popularised in Britain, which combined elements of Jamaican ska rhythms and punk rock, creating ska-punk, and third-wave ska, which involved bands from across the world in the 1980s and 1990s, such as No Doubt, Fishbone, Reel Big Fish, and Sublime.

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Heather Augustyn is an English professor at Purdue University Northwest, where she teaches composition and the popular course, Catch A Fire: Bob Marley’s Lyrics and Life.