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What do Billie Holiday and Lady Gaga have in common? What about Queen Latifah and rockabilly star Wanda Jackson? Well, besides gender and fame, their influence on a deeply sexist recording industry. The final presentation of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ 25th anniversary season, “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” traces the history of women in the music business beginning in the 1920s. (NMWA is the only East Coast venue hosting the show, which was organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.) The exhibit begins with “Suffragettes to Juke-Joint Mamas: The Foremothers/Roots of Rock,” gradually progressing toward “Revolution, the Counterculture and the Pill: The Late 1960s,” and ending with “Ladies First: The ’90s and the New Millennium,” exploring how some particularly famous women lay down tracks for the next generation’s musicians. Hundreds of artifacts will be on view, including handwritten lyrics by Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and Laura Nyro, guitars played by Taylor Swift and Chrissie Hynde, stage outfits worn by Sheila E. and Donna Summer, one of Cher’s famous Bob Mackie ensembles, and of course, Madonna’s iconic Gaultier cone bra.
“Women Who Rock” is on view 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays to Jan. 6, 2013 at The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. $8–$10. nmwa.org. (202)783-5000.