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Female power: ‘Rise Up: Songs of the Women’s Movement’ to premiere on NMPBS

Women’s liberation march, 1971. (Courtesy of Alamy)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

The amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage, and was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest.

The movement is the impetus behind the documentary “Rise Up: Songs of the Women’s Movement,” which will premiere at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, on New Mexico PBS. It will air again at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8.

“Rise Up” chronicles the role that music played in one of the nation’s most dynamic social movements of the 20th century – the women’s rights movement in the 1960s and ’70s.

Hit songs that became empowering and beloved anthems are performed by Aretha Franklin, Lesley Gore, Helen Reddy, Loretta Lynn, Janis Ian, Holly Near, Gloria Gaynor, Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, Eurythmics (Annie Lennox) and others.

The documentary is being aired as part of Women’s History Month.

At the helm of the documentary are Heather A. Smith and Donna Korones.

Heather A. Smith

Smith says the documentary is intended to be informative, while reminiscing with the music.

“These songs in pop culture, you don’t think of them as anthems,” Smith says. “Over time, they become anthems. I’m a little bit younger than the movement, so it was a learning lesson for me.”

Korones grew up in the height of the movement and remembers being a teenager listening to the songs.

“We didn’t know or understand the entirety of the lyric,” Korones says. “We understood the feeling that it brought up. These were pieces of art that helped women fight for liberation.”

Donna Korones

Korones and Smith worked on the film concept for a year, and the production went quickly.

The pair started interviews with the musicians and other leaders.

“Luckily, we were able to get interviews with really amazing artists,” Smith says. “It all came together.”

Korones says that there’s never one version of history and that the documentary is only one version.

“Hopefully, there will be many more films that come,” Korones says. “We wanted to represent the music with a variety of styles and get women of different ages. For the purpose of the film, we were looking for an artist and a lyric that represented a particular time, artists who had fearlessness.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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