Why I Backed Away From the Music Industry

Photo credit: Alison Gordy

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and in support of all the brave women who have come forward,  also those victimized by Bill Cosby, another on-trial preditor, I’d like to add my voice. I cannot name names because all these years later, I have no “proof,”

I started performing at coffeehouses, open stages, VFW halls, etc. when I was 13 years old. I had nobody to protect me: my parents were dysfunctional, and I really was on my own. The unwanted attention started immediately. “Can I take you home?” “No, my mom is coming to pick me up.” “Can I buy you a drink after the show?” “No, I’m 13.”

Over the years, I kept playing, and as I got older, the overtures were bolder and more insistent. Groping, sexual comments, suggestive offers. All of it made me feel icky and in danger. Still, like a black kid in the projects who see sports as a way up and out of poverty, I clung to my music and kept going. I was going to make it up and out of my dysfunctional childhood and play my music in front of a world audience.

Fast-forward to the 1990s. I was part of the Folk Revival movement in Greenwich Village, playing in all the key venues. I had a lawyer, who, unfortunately, convinced me that he knew “someone” at Sony who could get me a record deal. “How far was I willing to go? Answer: Not that far. He did nothing for me but put his hand up my skirt and take my money while I took him out to dinner.

I ditched him when he asked for half my publishing.

I had a meeting with a major label, demo in hand, and was asked to give a blowjob to the A&R rep. I refused, and that was the end of the meeting.

I finally took my music and formed my own label, Anvil Records, in 1994 and have released two CDs, Broken Hearted Angel, and Darkness Visible. I decided to remove myself from the predators’ pool because it was utterly demoralizing.

Harvey Weinstein is just a pimple on the acne’d face of the entertainment industry, and let’s take it a step further, on our society in whole. There is a deep vein of hatred towards women and their “ample assets,” “pert derrieres,”  “bikini-ready bodies,” ad nauseum. Women who are strong, capable, and willing to make a difference in society are hounded, pursued, derided, and discredited. In other words, there are a lot of men who really hate women, and will go to the ends of the earth to keep us as tits and ass toys.

I gave up on the music industry for those reasons. I support all the women who have come forward to decry this gross (and I mean that in all ways) injustice done towards them. Let’s put an end to this “I grab ’em by the pussy” mentality. It has to go. Look at who we have in the White House. Harvey’s brother.

Do I still play? Of course. Old musicians never die, we just decompose.

Author: Virginia Wagner Galfo

These are scary times. Prepare yourself to take a stand for what is right. God damn it, just be kind!

6 thoughts on “Why I Backed Away From the Music Industry”

  1. WOW! I would have NEVER FULLY KNOWN without you sharing! I know enough that the music industry is CORRUPT, but you made it ALL THE MORE CLEAR!!

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  2. Hello Virginia, I read your story with Interest since I used to give you Guitar lessons, I am glad you still play and write, and hopefully I played a small part in your Musical development, I will not Lie however you and I are on different ends of the political spectrum , but I know that we both seek the truth usually about everything and sometimes to our own detriment, You see things much differently than myself as i believe you are more socially conscious, that does not mean i don’t want justice for everybody, but it does sicken me when anybody from any political party gets away with shall we say “Murder” Rape, Torture and any other indignities that are inflicted on Humanity the Human spirit and the Soul of man, I also find it quite abhorrent when people torture animals, use abortion as birth control, and demand money for these things, I don’t know where you stand on this, knowing you from your writings though I believe you find a lot of these things very unpleasant as well. This is just a short letter to let you know I follow you although I am not really on twitter, and if you want to have dialogues from time to time. That is your choice. I was sorry to hear about your dysfunctional upbringing, I think there are a lot of kids you and i share that with. I will say one thing though I do hope you blame Blame Clinton as much as you blame Trump for “The grab em by the pussy mentality” from one decomposing Musician to another

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    1. Dear Joe, You were a wonderful part of my musical development, and I treasured every lesson I had with you at Tempo Music. Our lessons came to end when my mother (wrongly) decided that I was “teaching you.” Apart from just saying she was a narcissist, we can leave it at that. I am grieved that my post hurt you. I assure you, I made that post with no political agenda, except to detail my own experiences of sexual harrassment in the music industry. Yes, you were my teacher when I was around 13 years old, but you were a wonderful teacher and always appropriate and encouraging. I am truly grateful to you for that. I hope you are doing well, Joe, and I wish you all the best that life has to offer.

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  3. Thank you for telling your story. I just started a blog for female musicians teaching them the music business and entrepreneurial things, so they can build themselves up in the industry without such hassles, hopefully. Sadly, yours is just a long line of story of such harassment and line crossing in the entertainment business. I’ve even heard of males complaining about male predators in the music industry and some were speaking of their childhood days in the music business, like you were here. Something has to be done to protect talent more and to give them a voice. I hope my blog can aid some women and girls in finding success without selling their souls and bodies to the industry’s loser men that sometimes inhabit it.

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