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Ruthie Foster

In the tight-knit musical community of Austin, Texas, it’s tough to get away with posturing. You either bring it, or you don’t.

If you do, word gets around. And one day, you find yourself duetting with Bonnie Raitt, or standing onstage with the Allman Brothers at New York’s Beacon Theater and trading verses with Susan Tedeschi. You might even wind up getting nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy — three times in a row. And those nominations would be in addition to your seven Blues Music Awards, three Austin Music Awards, the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Académie Charles-Cros in France, and a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year.

There’s only one Austinite with that résumé: Ruthie Foster.

The small rural town of Gause, TX had no chance of keeping the vocal powerhouse known as Ruthie Foster to itself. The worship services at her community church and influences like Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin created the foundation of her vocal capabilities, which developed into her own sound which is unable to be contained within a single genre. That uniqueness echoes a common theme in Ruthie’s life and career — marching to the beat of her own drum.

Joining the Navy was one way for Ruthie to stake out her own path. It was during her time singing for the Navy band Pride that her love for performing became apparent. After leaving the service, Ruthie signed a development deal with Atlantic Records and moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional musician.

A deal with a major label would seem to be a dream come true for a budding artist, but the label favored Ruthie as a pop star. In another bold move, she walked away from the deal and returned to her roots, moving back to the Lone Star State.

Returning to Texas, Ruthie solidified her place as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter and began a musical partnership with Blue Corn Music, whom she has stood beside for all her releases over the past two decades.

Now comes Ruthie’s latest — Joy Comes Back — again on Blue Corn Music. When she recorded this album, Foster wasn’t merely singing about love and loss; she was splitting a household and custody of her 5-year-old daughter. Music was her therapy.

The comfort she felt within the studio gave her the strength to pour the heartache of her family’s fracture and the cautious hope of a new love into 10 incredible tracks, nine of which are by a diverse array of writers ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and Grace Pettis (daughter of renowned folk singer Pierce Pettis), to Chris Stapleton and Black Sabbath. It takes a true artist to make an outside song their own and, if you know Ruthie, you know she succeeds. The Recording Academy might want to put its engraver on notice. Every note on Joy Comes Back confirms this truth: It’s Ruthie’s time.

At one point, producer Daniel Barrett described the album to local hero Warren Hood, who lays fiddle and mandolin on “Richland Woman Blues,” as “some blues, some folk, some soul, some rock, some gospel.” Hood replied, “Sounds like Ruthie Foster music.”

Cris Williamson

Decades before indie labels were the norm, and years before women had any real access to the industry, Cris Williamson was busy changing the face of popular music. In 1975, the twenty-something former schoolteacher recorded The Changer and the Changed, for her brainchild, Olivia Records, the first woman-owned woman-focused record company. Her music and voice quickly became an essential part of the soundtrack of a movement, and was the cornerstone of what would become known as “women’s music,” music created, performed, and marketed specifically for and by women. Today, that recording, The Changer and the Changed, remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time.
For Cris, the music became the vehicle for something larger. Her lyrics appear on a regular basis in books and thesis papers. Her albums are part of the curriculum for women's studies courses, and thousands of people who may not even know her name join their voices in "Song of the Soul" around campfires and places of worship. She is embraced by women. She is sampled in hip-hop. Her music is used by midwives welcoming life into the world, while hospice choirs sing her songs in tender sacred escort. "She is often considered a treasure, passed hand-to-hand, person-to-person," says the Boston Phoenix, "Williamson is a heroic character whose tireless activism continues." 
Today, with 31 full albums to her credit, Cris continues to tour the acoustic circuit adding new material at each juncture. Her performance career includes three sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and the headlining of many of the great folk festivals, including Newport, Kerrville, Moab and Vancouver.

Cris’s new album, Motherland, produced by Cris and Julie Wolf, will be released in 2017. Cris is currently touring the new material, teaching songwriting, working with choruses, enjoying collaboration, and lastly, presenting a handful of Changer and the Changed All-Star Anniversary Shows in select major cities. Stay tuned.

Barbara Higbie

Called "a bolt of bright sunlight" by the L.A.Times, and a “classy talent” by the Boston Globe, Barbara Higbie is a Grammy-nominated, Bammy award winning composer, pianist, singer-songwriter and championship fiddle player with 14 solo and group CDs. She has played on 100 albums, recording with Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Cris Williamson, Holly Near, Teresa Trull and many others. Her duet recording with Trull, “Unexpected,” (on Olivia/Second Wave Records, 1983) made Higbie/Trull one of the most popular acts in Women’s Music. Barbara was the first woman to be signed to the ground breaking instrumental label, Windham Hill Records, appearing on seven of their multi-million selling Winter Solstice CDs. Her live show is a high-energy mix of original tunes, blues, country, folk and fast fiddling.

The youngest of six kids from a musical family, Higbie started piano at age four. When she was 13, her family moved from small town Indiana to Accra, Ghana. Upon returning to the states, she attended Mills College and the Sorbonne, was awarded a Watson Fellowship and placed 6th in the National Women’s Fiddle Competition in Weiser, Idaho. Her first solo CD on Sony Records, a singer-songwriter album, was named “Top Ten of the Year” by the Washington Post. In 2011, Higbie was named the first “Artist in Residence” for the famed West Coast jazz club, Yoshi’s. There, she started the group “Hills to Hollers” with gospel/soul singer Linda Tillery and bluegrass star, Laurie Lewis, exploring the roots of American music. Her most recent solo CD is Scenes from Life, a cinematic instrumental work. Barbara tours nationally and has performed on over 25 Olivia trips.

Vickie Shaw

Comedian Vickie Shaw is one of our favorite entertainers with Olivia. She has made women of Olivia laugh for over 20 years. Her "take no prisoners" (she's southern) style of comedy is incredibly hilarious and she takes you on a gut-busting journey of extreme humor. She has traveled the U.S. and the world (mostly with Olivia) making people all over the globe laugh until they cry! You've seen her on television, Comedy Central, four comedy specials on LOGO, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen, and movies (Laughing Matters More), as well as benefits, fundraisers and numerous Pride events all over the U.S. You don't want to miss this incredible entertainer.


Sweet Baby J'ai

Few entertainers can command a stage like the indefatigable, Sweet Baby J'ai. She is a multi-award winning, critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, actress and festival producer. Known for her sensual and powerful vocals, J’ai has won three Bravo “Entertainer of the Year” awards, two Blues and Soul Magazine “Best Jazz Vocal Performance” awards, two “Best Actress in a Leading Role” awards, and was recently honored as a Living Jazz Legend by the Los Angeles City Council.

As a U.S. Jazz Ambassador, J’ai as received rave reviews both domestically and internationally for her expansive mix of jazz, blues and soul, and has successfully sold her albums worldwide. The New York Times described her voice as, “…part cream, part honey and all soul,” while LN Magazine said, “She echoes the great talent of Billie Holiday and Etta James." The Russian Ulyanovsk Times referred to her as “the brightest representative of the world jazz scene…performing jazz, blues, funk, gospel, soul, pop and even R&B equally brilliantly!”

Sweet Baby J’ai continues to play a critical role in inspiring young female artists around the world, spreading joy wherever she goes!

Lisa Koch

Daft. Demented. #SNORT. Picture Tina Fey meets Bette Midler with Joan Jett guitar chops...and you’ve got Seattle’s Lisa Koch. An irreverent singer/comedian, out lesbian and sober chick, Koch (“Coke”) is a deliciously twisted mix of comedy, theater, and tunes. She has recorded five solo CDs, is one-half of quirky sketch comedy duo, Dos Fallopia (“Ham for the Holidays”), and has shared the stage with the likes of Janis Ian, Kate Clinton, Lily Tomlin, Karla Bonoff, The Indigo Girls, and Steve Martin. She composed the Off-Broadway musical 27, Rue de Fleurus, has been seen on LOGO and Olivia Cruises, and actually had one of her songs sampled by Jay-Z. Lisa brings to Olivia her guitar, her wacky songs, and her musings on being a woman…from middle age to mammograms to singing vulvas.


Michele Balan

Michele Balan has been doing comedy for over 25 years (we know she looks to young)! She was a finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing, and titleholder of Last Woman Comic Standing. Michele was voted one of the "Top 10 Comics" by Backstage Magazine and The San Francisco Bay Times Broadway World honored Michele at number two in their Top 10 List of cabaret performers.

Michele headlines around the country at leading comedy clubs, festivals such as Montreal's Just for Laughs, corporate events, JCCs, country clubs, and the last few years she has been so busy performing on the top cruise lines, her friends call her the “Staff Captain of Comedy!”

She has appeared on the Joy Behar Show, Comedy Central, Comics Unleashed, NBC Today Show, and recently taped Gotham Live. Michele likes to say she has some credits, but a lot more Creditors!

Mikalah Gordon

Mikalah Gordon, a Las Vegas Native, made her entertainment debut as a Top 12 contestant on season four of American Idol. Audiences fell in love with her powerful voice and unique stage presence, and she's been hitting all the right notes ever since. Her run on Idol earned her a record deal with famed judge Randy Jackson on Interscope Records, making her a household name. In addition to her vocal success, Mikalah has made her mark on the LA comedy scene with her edgy stand up performances, headlining at The Comedy Store, and The Laugh Factory. The spicy comedienne has starred on the WB sitcom Living with Fran, with Fran Drescher; as a field correspondent for The Tyra Banks Show and The TV Guide Network, and served as a co-host on American Idol Extra. Mikalah has also proven a knack for the dramatic when she starred on the CBS hit show, The Unit. Mikalah was recently a featured resident singer with Post Modern Jukebox in Los Angeles, and now you can catch this soulful chanteuse Wednesday–Saturday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Hotel’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie. 

DJ Lisa Pittman

DJ Lisa Pittman has toured all over the globe playing LGBT events, festivals, cruises and Pride destination cities like Olivia, Dinah, and Shedonism, just to name a few. Currently, she is a resident DJ for Marquee at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas with a weekly radio show on KVEG HOT 97.5. Playing a mix of top 40, EDM, hip-hop, twerk, and trap, she is quoted as saying, "My secret and specialty is making girls happy" – on the dance floor, of course.

DJ Christie James

Bay Area radio personality and event host Christie James has been rocking a bay area mic since 2004. She caught the radio bug after working for the American Forces Network in Sardinia, Italy. Christie, a military and radio vet, can be heard daily on the new iHeart80s @ 103.7 FM in San Francisco and PRIDE Radio on the iHeart Radio app. Currently she is the Executive Producer and co-host of The Martha Quinn Show on iHeart80s @ 103.7 as well as host of her own midday show from 10 am-3 pm. Can't listen during the day? Check her out nightly on PRIDE Radio 7 pm-12 am EST. Christie's versatile style has allowed her to stay consistent and relevant in a changing radio landscape. Her positive vibe and versatile style has taken her on a radio journey to stations all over Northern California. Christie has had the opportunity to live her dream and share that passion with the community she loves, the Bay Area!

Christie is also a standout community member, donating time to produce the women's stage for both San Francisco Pride and Oakland Pride. She also works with several charity organizations including the Chron's & Colitis Foundation, American Lung Association, and the Queer Cultural Center to name a few. She is the life the party or the "PIFE of the LARTY" depending on how many drinks you've had!

For Reservations Call: (800) 631-6277 M-F 8:30am-5:30pm Pacific
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Olivia Travel is the premiere lesbian travel company providing amazing cruise and resort vacations for lesbians worldwide. We create unforgettable holidays for women from all over the world. Vacation with us and you will never be the same!