It’s no secret that our society is plagued with guys like Ryan Adams, but I think it cuts more deeply when it’s an artist being the predator. Art gives us a means to express emotions we can’t put a name to. We use someone else’s art to say what we can’t say ourselves. Experiencing a work of art that speaks to us is a deeply personal experience. To find out that that art was created at the expense of someone else, or that the artist did real harm to someone, is a shattering revelation. It makes us feel guilty and complicit in the artist’s terrible behavior, while also feeling stupid at having the wool pulled over our eyes. And for those of us who have dealt with assholes like Adams in our own careers, it feels especially personal.
In addition to being a professional artist, I’ve been a musician since I was a kid. I also have a degree in music, and taught guitar and music classes for 15 years. I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment in the music biz, and it’s really hindered my ability to perform without a band. My friend Robb Murray of the Mankato Free Press asked me to chime in on the Ryan Adams fiasco and offer my two cents as a female musician. If you’ve experienced the same, I’d love to hear how you dealt with it.