When we won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize in Folk in 2002 for our song, "If I Give Your Name", we were asked to write a bit about our backgrounds and influences.
Here's what Sandy said:
"I grew up in a musical family that sang and played everything from Beatles songs to Medieval rounds. We also made up songs about almost anything, which I now credit as great training for being a songwriter. I studied classical guitar as a kid and ended up playing the Renaissance lute for a while, even going to grad school for it. When I got really tired of people telling me exactly how to play each trill and of singing lyrics that I didn’t feel represented me, I dropped out and started a folk duo, PETRONELLA, with my college buddy. The Village Voice described our music as “funky, feminist tunes—the band to engage you.” I was quite taken with Michelle Shocked’s and Suzanne Vega’s music around that time.
I had lived in London for a while and, after seeing an exhibition of artwork done by children on the theme “Who works for Me? Mummy, Sister, Auntie,” I become involved with a grassroots organization called The International Wages for Housework Campaign. The drawings and writings were powerful, especially the ones showing the work the girls themselves were doing, like an 8-year-old cooking for her father, uncles and brothers because the adult women were back home in India caring for elderly grandparents. This struck a chord with me about the expectations and treatment of girls compared with boys.
I wrote the Campaign a song and it was my first experience of the excitement people feel when their/our stories are put into song—how people feel represented, understood and encouraged by hearing them/ourselves reflected in song. Through the Campaign, I also learned a kickass song by Brooklyn-based activist songwriter, Bev Grant, who continues to be a personal and musical influence on me."