Pink-highlighted hair, black combat boots and an electro-pop musical sound are certainly not the first things usually associated with a recent Penn graduate embarking on her career path.
However, head-banging, punk-rocking Shira Yevin kicked off the Girlz Garage Tour concert at the Theater of Living Arts last Wednesday night. And from her sensual dancing to her bold attire to her impassioned lyrics which declare, "This is not your average girl," it was evident that Yevin, or Shiragirl as she is called onstage, is defying all stereotypes of the traditional Penn student.
When she set foot on Penn's campus for the first time four years ago, Shira Yevin was indistinguishable from the hundreds of freshmen who arrive each year, intending to major in science and then pursue a career in research or medicine.
But by the end of her first semester at Penn, Yevin had done a 180-degree turnaround.
Yevin began her Penn career as an intended biological basis of behavior major, expecting to build upon her strong math and science background and her work in Columbia University's genetics research lab.
But thanks to a freshman seminar, Yevin discovered a hidden talent for writing and almost immediately abandoned her goal of becoming a science major, opting instead to pursue humanities courses such as art history, English and film.
Yevin carried her academic exposure to creativity and expression over to extracurriculars, immersing herself in music, art, dance, choreography and film. After graduating last spring, Yevin has become a multimedia singer, dancer, choreographer and performer, following a career in an indisputably non-traditional path.
"I reject the popular notion that you have to choose one career path and one path only, because these days you don't," she says. "Yeah, I sing, but I also dance, make video, write stories and poetry, make theater. I'm always down for different types of projects."
Yevin has lived everywhere from New York to London to the back of the cramped tour bus she slept in last summer as a part of the rock music Vans Warped Tour.
"It was crazy, living on a tour bus with two girls and six guys -- not at all glamorous!" Yevin says. "Sleeping in a bunk the size of a coffin, not showering for days at a time, waking up each morning in a different parking lot...."
After traveling all over the world, Yevin's path recently led her back to Philadelphia, where she opened the TLA's Girlz Garage Tour show.
This fall's inaugural run of the Girlz Garage Tour, a spin-off of the Vans Warped Tour, features a group of exclusively female musical artists performing a range from rock to punk to hip hop to pop. The 31-city tour aims to not only gain exposure for these up-and-coming artists, but also to overcome the obstacles faced by women in music.
"The purpose of this tour is to provide these females with a place to perform and to try to build these artists up to help them get a jump-start to their careers," says Kevin Lyman, the Girlz Garage Tour promoter.
And although Yevin is not traveling with the tour, Lyman gave her the opportunity to open Wednesday night, where she sang three original songs before a small, but enthusiastic crowd.
Yevin's performance featured singing, dance and rap segments in which she engaged the crowd with her energy and overall rock image.
But more than this punk-rock image, it was Yevin's feminist-inspired music which fit the bill of the Girlz Garage Tour.
"With my music, I hope to smash gender stereotypes, encourage uninhibited female creative expression, question mainstream society and get people dancing, singing and screaming along with me," Yevin says. "I just hope I can tell girls to do their own thing and find a way to express themselves in our male-dominated society."
Watching Yevin perform at the TLA, former roommate Jana Carrey notes that "she's getting a lot more comfortable with performing. She's added hip hop and punk to her repertoire but she's always self-proclaimed, and she definitely tries to get that through in her music. Feminism is definitely something she believes in."
In addition to the political goals which she hopes to advance through her music, Yevin also hopes to use her music as an outlet for the creativity which she discovered at Penn.
"I always danced, but second semester [freshman year], I also began choreographing for Strictly Funk and organizing the shows --that changed my life," Yevin says. "I decided that theater and performance was my destiny and there was no way I was going to do anything else."
In pursuing that goal, it is evident that Yevin has indeed made a 180-degree turnaround. Her upcoming events include a collaboration with some of the music industry's most famous producers, the opening of her own art exhibit in Philadelphia this winter, as well as an American tour of her own.
According to Carrey, Yevin's career goals will continue to grow and change, just as her Penn academic career once did.
"You never know what you're going to get with Shira," Carrey says. "She's always changing."Comments powered by Disqus
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