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Click on the photo to read “Music with a Mission,” Orlando Magazine’s feature story on the Swamp Sistas Songwriter Circle.
Swamp Sistas Songwriter Circle is women of various ages and stages whose styles range from folk rock to hip hop. Southern roots songwriter Beth McKee conceived the group with monthly gatherings at her Florida home, inviting female peers to compose and share songs incorporating a word or phrase she sent ahead of time.
“It’s fascinating to see what direction each writer takes with the seed phrase I provide,” McKee explains, “and occasionally someone will chime in with harmony or instrumental reinforcement. I find the collaborative spirit and peer support between the women to be intoxicating and right away I knew audiences would love it, too.”
In-the-round shows where women songwriters share songs and stories with a front porch vibe, often jumping in to sing or play with the others.
“The Circle as a vehicle for women songwriters to gig, collaborate and share our respective followings with each other, and my desire is to nurture this community and the music it generates.” Beth McKee
The group evolved into a performance collective when McKee began to showcase it with in-the-round sets, at her Swamp Sistas La Las, a roving, regional music fest that raise money to fight local hunger. The Circle became a cherished element of the La Las and McKee decided to broaden their reach. “I have women friends from all over who are amazing songwriters and I’ve invited some to join the collective. I put together combinations of local writers to fill out the circle with me in different cities, usually bringing at least one member of the original group along, since that’s where the magic began.”
The Circle has built in support from the 2,600+ member social movement, dubbed Swamp Sistas, that McKee founded in 2010 as a way to keep in touch with women she met on tour.