by Ed Peaco
Five singer-songwriting-instrumentalists have banded together to raise awareness of the Rebound Foundation, which provides transitional housing to women and children survivors of domestic abuse. The foundation also works to educate youth on dating violence and healthy relationships.
Rebound, currently providing services in Springfield, has been founded by Christina Ford, wife of Dana Ford, head coach of the men’s basketball team at Missouri State University.
The show will start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 5, at Lindbergs. At the door, folks will be asked for $5, which will go to Rebound, and tips for the foundation are welcome.
The five artists, who are performing pro bono, are calling themselves BadAss BigHearted Women. They are Kunti Bentley, Betsey Mae Graves, Melinda Mullins, Melissa Rea and Jessamyn Orchard. With this array of artistry (see notes below), you might find one or two songsters who you’ll enjoy for the first time.
Melinda said this band of sisters is enjoying the camaraderie.
“We laugh, it’s passionate, and we’re learning things. All of us are stepping out of our normal boxes,” she said. “I love all this diversity and surprise. Everybody brings something just a little different.”
All five singers will be on stage in a modified in-the-round format. They will bring originals and a few covers, and they may perform solo or with a few others, playing or harmonizing.
The program will start with “Bright Morning Stars” by the Wailin’ Jennys. The BadAss BigHearted Women will approach this song a cappella.
In addition, you will hear all five vocalists on several songs, including two by “The Highwomen,” a supergroup that has recently brought out its first album. The two songs are “Crowded Table” and the title song. (“The Highwomen” is a play on words off of “The Highway Men” that started outlaw country music.) “These songs are completely new, powerful and empowering,” Melinda said.
“Each of these verses tell about a woman who made a stand,” Melinda said of “The Highwomen.” A healer is hanged in the Salem witch trials; a freedom rider on a bus in 1961 pays the price for civil rights. Each woman portrayed is killed for her transgressions, and the persona is singing from the afterlife.
The reason for the event is serious, as are several songs they’ll perform, but the singers also envision a lighthearted and enjoyable experience. Being part of the effort for the Rebound Foundation should be satisfying in itself.
Rebound Foundation Benefit
6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 5, at Lindbergs
5$ cover for Rebound
About the artists
Melissa (Henderson) Rea:
Lilly Bee and the Pollinators (funky soul)
Henderson Kids (with brother Mike)
Duos with husband Jimmy Rea
Various cover bands including Shattered (Rolling Stones) and Tom Petty
Previously toured with partner Jonathan Bentley when he was signed to Mayapple Records (pre-children years)
Recently formed duo Foxgloves with Cindy Woolf
Active in Grupo Latinoamericano and member of its Dance Troupe
Betsey Mae Graves:
Kansas City Hustle
Breakfast Sides duo with husband Chad “Gravyboat” Graves
Layton Hollow Gal with Melinda Mullins (Johnny Mullins Collection)
Touring musician with The Matchsellers Bluegrastronauts Band
Upcoming solo album of original songs
Solo looping project called Jessamyn & The Imaginary Friends
Keyboard player for local all-female band Averturize
Has performed on The Mystery Hour and numerous Wild Bob’s Musical Book Club shows
Curator and performer — The Johnny Mullins Collection
Shares her father’s music in various formats, including solo, duo with Bo Brown, and recently Layton Hollow Gals with a Side of Gravy (Chad Graves on pedal steel and banjo joins duo Melinda and Betsey)