In 2015, Sistrum started a tradition of recognizing a person for exceptional and enduring commitment to women or women-identified people in the greater Lansing area with the Goddess Award.
Terry Grant, 2015 Goddess Award Winner
Terry Grant could probably be best described as one of the most influential figures in the womyn’s music movement. In fact, she’s even been described as a “feminist who changed America.” She and her company Goldenrod Music literally changed the face of music, by making music available from an independent distributor. In their own words, they did it by “focusing primarily on music by women, …working hand in hand with artists, producers, retailers, press and fans to distribute the music that we think makes the world a better place.”
Terry Grant grew up in Maine and moved to mid-Michigan to get a master’s degree in criminal justice at MSU. A job distributing Meg Christian’s music helped her to make a 180 degree shift in her career. As the founder of Goldenrod music in 1975, Terry Grant started selling CDs by artists like Holly Near, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Cris Williamson, Linda Tillery, Margie Adam and many, many more. In a career spanning 35 years, she and those with whom she worked at Goldenrod found a way to successfully merge music, politics, and culture.
Terry Grant and Goldenrod were originally part of a grass roots cultural movement – namely lesbian feminist politics and community building. Over the years they developed new niches for the music of other diverse communities, surely a reason for their staying power.
As well as Sistrum’s Goddess Award, Terry earned many honors through the years with the Hot Wire Award for outstanding contributions to women’s music and culture, the 1993 Prism award for outstanding contributions to the lesbian/gay community, and the Jane Schleissman Award at the National Women’s Music Festival, to name a few.
Terry would almost certainly want us acknowledge others—her life partner of 40 years, Sue Emmert, and her long time business partner Suzan Frazier—for their integral part in her life and success.
The woman who earned Sistrum’s first Goddess Award doesn’t just love music, she has helped thousands and thousands of women have access to music that changed their lives.
Penny Gardner, 2016 Goddess Award Winner
In 2016, Sistrum recognized Dr. Penny Gardner, a goddess who has been part of the Lansing womyn’s community since 1994 when she moved to Lansing to enter the master’s program in Women’s Studies at MSU. She did not stop there though and in 2002, she completed her doctorate in American studies. Her work emphasized feminist philosophy, Women’s Studies, autobiography, and reproductive rights. Penny has a long history of activism and pursuing social justice. Before moving to Michigan, she did things like go with a feminist group to Germany and bike with a women’s group in the Reproductive Freedom Ride from New York to Washington state.
Coming to Michigan allowed Penny to continue her involvement in feminist and social justice issues in new ways. Her activities flowed organically from her being, from living life. Penny combined her outgoing personality with a belief in the power and value of women and networking skills and organizational skills extraordinaire. It is no surprise, then, that Penny builds community. She is the driving force behind First Fridays and she helped create the informal lesbian seating section at MSU Women’s Basketball games. And, over her decades in Lansing, Penny has been involved with Take Back the Night, GLFSA – The Gay and Lesbian Faculty Staff Association, the Lansing Association for Human Rights, and former Governor Granholm’s Commission on Aging. But, Penny was not just involved with these groups. She was infusing them with her energy and leadership. She served on their boards and
she has been the president of multiple organizations. I have heard her called the President of Everything. If you go to a community event and Penny is there, you will hear countless folks say, “Hi” to her and you will find she knows everyone.
Penny now lives with Marilyn, her partner of 20 years, and 2 cats. Until 2016, she taught at MSU in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. She is involved with Purple, a nonprofit that sent women to the Michigan Women’s Music Festival and is now helping a group of women purchase the land. She is involved with the Helen Diner Memorial Women’s Center is President of Elsie Publishing and Lesbian Connection. Penny serves on the board for the Tri-County Office on Aging and served as President of the Union of Nontenured-Track Faculty. She has been active supporting MSU Students for Choice and the LGBT Advisory Board for the Gender Center Program. Penny is on the City of Lansing’s Ethics Board. Through her decades of activity, Penny has educated the general
public about LGBT people. She has promoted human rights protections for LGBT persons. She has helped organizations grow and empowered women to use their voices. Penny’s outgoing style, her passionate commitment to empowering women, her energetic organizing and networking and her willingness to serve has made life better for women and the queer community in the Greater Lansing area.