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Empowering women: Chickweed puts female artist, musicians in the spotlight

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Years ago, Sue McHugh was performing around Salisbury when she had a realization: the music scene was lacking women.

McHugh said she would play music and felt like the only woman. So she decided to host a show one day. And it has transformed into Chickweed, an indoor-outdoor music and arts festival featuring women led musical acts and artists.

In its eighth year, it continues to be a celebration for indestructible women and children. The proceeds go to support End Child Abuse Rowan.

“There’s some magic around Chickweed,” McHugh said. “I can’t describe it.”

Many who have returned to Chickweed over the years had first stumbled on the music escaping the venue and return for the cause and the atmosphere.

Kathryn Ambrosini, a reflexologist, provided an opportunity to show people what reflexology is all about. Every year, Cynthia Hill with Shalom Regal offers her services and donates all her proceeds to Chickweed. This year, Ambrosini filled in for Hill. Chickweed and what it represents is meaningful for Ambrosini.

“Violence against women has affected my life and many of my friend,” Ambrosini said.

The event allowed her to introduce others into reflexology, which can help with trauma and anxiety, she said. It can help those who are survivors of abuse regain their wellness and find a steady footing, too.

“It gives them an option for wellness that they may not be aware of,” Ambrosini said.

Ambrosini’s mother, Robin, came to help and took the opportunity to attend the event after missing it previous years. She commented on the energy at Chickweed and the importance of showcasing women.

“Women are forced to follow,” she said. “Women here are the frontrunner. It’s all for women.”

Isabel Hartsell was previously a featured artist at Chickweed. This year, she was a vendor and she worked on an art piece. She called it an empowering event with a meaningful cause.

“Everyone has been touched by child abuse,” Hartsell said.

McHugh said the behind-the-scenes details of Chickweed stick out to her. Whenever she invites an artist to perform, they are honored and McHugh gets to see the artist blossom.

“The confidence it instills is over the top,” McHugh said. “It’s not something that the attendees get to see. I get to see.”

Logan Thomas, a singer and guitarist, was invited by McHugh after she saw her perform with her band, Rude City Project.

“It means a lot to do something for a good cause,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor.”

McHugh said she has seen women musicians gain recognition in Salisbury over the years. Thomas was trying out a couple of original songs for the audience at the Trolley Barn. She enjoyed hearing all the musical acts that came before hers.

“It’s awesome to bring women together,” she said.

Tina Fox and Caroline Tallent traveled from Hickory to support their visual artist friend, Rachel Carden Merkua. They were enjoying food from Yummy Bahn Mi food truck and taking in their friends work while giving back to a good cause.

Fox said she was personally able to escape a bad situation and appreciates organization helping women and children from violence.

“Women and children are trying to find their way to a better life,” she said.

Joyce Meadows, of D & J Catering, was serving barbecue and fish with baked beans and fries. She got a chance to look at all the vendors and appreciated seeing everyone who was using their talents and hobbies to support themselves and the community. She said she was “all for” the empowerment of women.

Chickweed is a nonprofit and accepts donations year round at thechickweed.com.

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