While the coronavirus has caused most events to be canceled or delayed this spring and summer, it actually jump-started Friday's inaugural Festival of the Valkyries.

A virtual gathering of women and nonbinary musicians and music-biz professionals from around Minnesota, the free 13-hour marathon was already being brainstormed as an in-person event in the months leading up to the pandemic lockdown.Organizers quickly pivoted in recent weeks and turned it into a virtual festival instead.

Friday's online activities – all viewable via live the festival's Facebook page and Zoom – now include a 9 a.m. panel discussion, a 10:30 a.m. keynote address by the Current's Andrea Swensson, and then a full day of livestreamed performances by the likes of Maria Isa, Davina Lozier (Davina & the Vagabonds), Venus DeMars, Annie Mack, Mary Cutrufello, Kat Perkins, Joyann Parker, Gaelynn Lea, Mary Bue, Katy Vernon, Jillian Rae and Mayda.

"Once quarantine began, we started to plan more specifically," singer/songwriter Sarah Morris explained of the altered inception. "The livestream festival idea felt exciting AND uniquely doable in this time. Suddenly, many of the artists would be at home, and available to come together in this way.".

Morris is one of the five women who teamed up to create the festival's namesake organization, the Valkyrie Music Collective, also including fellow musicians Vicky Emerson, Annie Fitzgerald, Haley Rydell and performing arts programmer and artist Jess Rau. Staging a festival was one of their first objectives, Morris said, because "gender imbalance of many festival lineups is a frequent topic of conversation."

While there was no shortage of things to discuss in Friday's opening business panel -- for which pre-registration is required to view via Zoom -- Emerson said there are even more pressing issues to cover amid the quarantine crisis. She will moderate it alongside artist manager Becky Hoffmann (Dessa, Jeremy Messersmith), publicist and musician Ellen Stanley (EFS Publicity, Mother Banjo), talent booker Grace Hall (First Ave), marketing manager Shellae Mueller (the Ordway), publicist, writer and booker Youa Vang (City Pages, MSP airport stage) and DJ Michel.Be.

"Many of the artists I know are also mothers and have assumed home-schooling duties," Emerson pointed out, adding that she hopes to offer "ways for artists to monetize live streaming, options for funding and how to be creative during this period of time."

"We will also discuss how music industry professionals that hold power can help create a more balanced environment for women, queer and gender non-comforming individuals to work, create and thrive within."

In other words, the festival is for everyone – a point all the more true now that it's all happening online. See the full schedule for Friday's big marathon below. Viewers will be given info on how to "tip" each of the performers directly as a means of support.

  • 8:30-9 AM: Morning Dance Party with DJ Michel.Be (ZOOM))
  • 9:00-9:10 AM: Opening Ceremony with Heather Conrndorf, founder and owner of mXe (ZOOM))
  • 9:10-10:30 AM: Panel discussion moderated by Vicky Emerson with Grace Hall, Becky Hoffmann, Ellen Stanley, Youa Vang, Shellae Mueller and DJ Michel.Be. (ZOOM)
  • 10:30-10:50 AM:Keynote Address by Andrea Swensson (ZOOM)
  • 11:00-11:20 AM: Jillian Rae
  • 11:25-11:45 AM: Annie Mack
  • 11:50 AM-12:10 PM: Mary Bue
  • 12:15-12:35 PM:Gaelynn Lea
  • 12:40-1:00 PM: Faith Boblett
  • 1:05-1:25 PM: Erin Grand
  • 1:30-1:50 PM: Julia Floberg
  • 1:55-2:15 PM: Katy Vernon
  • 2:20-2:40 PM: Maria Isa
  • 2:45-3:05 PM: Ashley Gold
  • 3:10-3:30 PM: Ellis Delaney
  • 3:35-3:55 PM: Kiss the Tiger
  • 4:00-4:20 PM: Lena Elizabeth
  • 4:25-4:45 PM: The Nunnery
  • 4:50-5:10 PM: Joyann Parker
  • 5:15-5:35 PM: Theyself
  • 5:40-6:00 PM: Julie Eddy
  • 6:05- 6:25 PM: Diane Miller
  • 6:30 PM - 6:50 PM: Davina Lozier
  • 6:55 PM - 7:15 PM: Mary Cutrufello
  • 7:20 PM - 7:40 PM: Venus DeMars
  • 7:45 PM - 8:05 PM: Mayda
  • 8:10 PM - 9:00 PM: Kat Perkins
  • 9:00 PM - 9:45 PM: Evening Dance Party with DJ Shannon Blowtorch (ZOOM)