Sarah Rudinoff has been making theatrical work in Seattle for over 25 years. Next month she joins SWC at Benaroya Hall for Legends of Rock, a loud and proud celebration of 50 years of women in the rock world. Let's meet her.
You have a varied and extensive resume in the Seattle arts scene: traditional plays and musicals, original one woman-shows, cabaret, event hosting, writing. Have you ever performed with a chorus?
Not for a very long time! However, I sang in big and small choirs growing up on Kauai where my dad was an Episcopal priest. I sang in a large choir when I went to high school at Iolani on Oahu. It was made up of 100s of kids from 5 to 18 years old and we would do things like the Carmina Burana at cathedrals in Honolulu.
Seattle Women’s Chorus often invites guest singers to join us onstage. You’re doing a little more than singing though, right?
Yes. Paul Caldwell asked me to research and write text that would bring some context to the songs as a whole and let the audience discover how these musicians are woven together in the history of popular music. That, and make it fun!
What role did you play in programming this concert?
I was sent the song list that had been culled from 100s of suggestions. Paul and I both talked about the lack of diversity in this genre and how ironic it was since people like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Little Richard were pioneers of the rock sound. The songs needed to have been popular enough to include in a list of highly influential tunes and this genre has been so heavily male and white. I suggested bringing my friend Ayesha “Musicbox” Brooks on board to sing an Alabama Shakes song since I think their lead singer and guitar player, Brittany Howard, is a gargantuan rock talent who has carved out a space for black women, women of size and women who can shred on a guitar. I also added some Patti Smith and suggested putting in a local female rock legend’s work: Mia Zapata of The Gits.
You co-created the musical, These Streets, about women in Seattle’s grunge music scene; you’re pretty familiar with the genre. Why did you choose “Second Skin” from The Gits to represent that era?
Before working on These Streets, the only women I knew from that scene were Carrie Akre of Hammerbox and Mia Zapata of The Gits. I had watched Hype!, the documentary about the music explosion in 90s Seattle and I was completely mesmerized by the live footage of The Gits doing “Second Skin.” In a film of many electrified performances, I felt that one really stood out - Mia is crying out for some kind of buffer between the world and her humanity. Mia was tragically murdered and she and the band did not get to fulfill all of its promise. It was a huge sadness for Seattle and many people count Mia’s death as the end of the grunge era.
On a more life affirming note, my collaborators Gretta Harley, Elizabeth Kenny and I really wanted to make an online database for all of these women musicians of that time in Seattle - because if you are not online these days, you have kind of disappeared. I would love people to explore this music; check it out.
If you could have the music career of one of the women whose music is featured in our concert, what would it be and why?
I would have to say Patti Smith because she has been able to have such a varied career. Just Kids, her book about her love affair and friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, is one of my favorites - but I have read them all. Her poetry is always taking risks and chances. I feel like she is not afraid to be herself and that inspires me.
Where have your music adventures taken you?
I have mostly toured my solo plays but most of them have had music in them. I’ve gone to LA, New York, Pittsburgh, Australia, Holland and love mixing travel with performing.
Other than performing, how do you spend your time?
I am a full time real estate agent! I have no children, but two careers keeps me busy and I am always searching for the next creative adventure.
Header image: Sarah Rudinoff in NowNowNow