She Shreds, founded by Fabi Reyna, has created a safe space for musicians—especially womxn of color—to heal.
In 2017, She Shreds Media, initially a print publication dedicated to women guitarists and bassists, started an online challenge that encourages women and non-binary musicians to commit to playing and posting one riff (a 5-minute jam session) a day for an entire month.
This January was unlike any other month of riffs, as participants met the #1RAD challenge while our social, economic, and political worlds collapsed, to put things lightly. Research shows that COVID-19 has hit women hardest, especially Hispanic women who “are at a higher risk for depression than Caucasian and African American women.”
So how does one grapple with pandemic woes? Two words: sore fingers. Before this unravels into a tasteless lesbian joke, let me say from experience that anyone learning how to play the guitar must sacrifice their fingertips. As a Fender study recently revealed, half of these new players are women.
And who knew a guitar could help you get through that thicket of anxiety? As neuroscientist Daniel Levitin told She Shreds, “Playing an instrument has a meditative aspect that can release positive hormones in the brain and can reduce the stress hormone Cortisol, increase productivity, and create social bonding to combat loneliness in the digital age.”
Thousands of guitarists from all around, both beginners and professionals, are building a network on Instagram, and, collectively, they are creating an inspiring community at a time when sisterhood and solidarity are more important than ever. To find thousands of videos and clips from participants, just search #1RAD on Instagram.
Reyna is a musical leader: the amalgamation of her sound, commitment, and ingenuity delivers a joy that acts as the antidote we all need during this dark period. As a queer Mexican-American, she’s well aware of the prominent issues within an industry that has historically erased or over-sexualized women.
“I experienced the whole ‘girls don’t play guitar’ thing and when I turned 18, I decided to start She Shreds magazine, which is about women guitarists and bassists,” Reyna told Remezcla. “Through that, I’ve learned a lot about the perspectives of people who’ve been silenced or never been asked about their music. We’ve always existed but opportunities for visibility only started coming up recently, especially for women, queers and non-binary folks.” Now, Reyna continues to create space for herself and for other women of color—one riff at a time.
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Jacinda Mia Perez is a gonzo journalist currently based in South Texas. Follow her on Instagram @jacindamiaperez