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Adam, Margie (b. 1949)  

Margie Adam was in her early twenties when the women's liberation movement rocked the United States, and a lesbian feminist culture began to develop. A lesbian, a feminist, and a passionate musician, Adam became part of creating a new political music genre that celebrated lesbian love and the changing lives of women.

A pioneer in women's music, she became one of the first feminists to found her own record company, while becoming a well-known performer on the concert circuit of women's coffeehouses and music festivals that sprouted in communities across the country during the 1970s.

In the decades that followed, Adam has continued to write and perform her music, a synthesis of folk, pop, blues, and classical. Though her music is often ethereal, she has also clung firmly to her belief in the importance of political activism. As she said to Fay Jacobs in an interview in Letters from Camp Rehoboth, "I am very interested to explore the intersections of activism and spirituality through culture, but I am fundamentally a feminist singer-songwriter-activist. When I hear myself identified in those terms, I am standing on solid ground."

Adam was born in the southern California town of Lompoc on February 7, 1949, and learned to play the piano while still a young child. In 1973, she attended a feminist music festival organized by writer Kate Millett at Sacramento State University. During the "open mike" period, Adam, terrified, but bolstered by the supportive energy of the women around her, gathered her courage and performed onstage for the first time.

In 1974, Adam's career took a leap forward at the National Women's Music Festival in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois. Several young feminist musicians were included in the festival, but the main stage on Saturday night was reserved for the "big name" performers, Roberta Flack and Yoko Ono, both of whom cancelled at the last minute. Organizers asked for help, and several lesbian musicians stepped in. Meg Christian, Cris Williamson, Vicki Randle, and Margie Adam, performing together for the first time, gave a rousing concert to an enthusiastic crowd, and gave a huge boost to women's music.

Besides promoting songs about political issues and lesbians' lives, the new women's music also set about to challenge stereotypes within the music industry. Women's bands featured women who excelled on non-traditional instruments such as the bass or trap set, and women began working in production and distribution as well as performing. In this spirit, Adam founded her own record label, Pleiades, to produce her work, and, in 1976, she released Songwriter, the first of many albums.

In 1977, Adam galvanized attendees at the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, with her rousing anthem "We Shall Go Forth." In 1980 the recording of that performance became part of the Political History archives at the Smithsonian Institution. In April 2004, Adam sang the song at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D. C.

Classically trained, Adam is influenced by a number of genres in developing her rich mellow style. Though her piano is a fitting accompaniment to her gentle message of love and social change, it is also strong enough to stand on its own in her instrumental pieces.

In 1980 Adam released her first instrumental album, Naked Keys, a compilation of meditative works that pioneered the calm, melodious music that would become known as "new age."

From 1984 through 1991, disheartened by the conservative climate of the Reagan era, Adam took a break from performing, calling it her "radical's sabbatical." She left the music industry to work in a chemical dependency program, though she continued to develop her art, studying voice and piano. In 1991, she returned to performing, releasing Another Place in 1993.

Adam has continued to write, perform, and record her music, increasingly combining politics and spirituality in her work. Determined to continue to work for change, even in the hostile environment of neo-conservatism, she established the Avalon Project. This project, started in conjunction with her 2001 album Avalon, hopes to revive radical feminist politics by encouraging political conversation and support for progressive organizations within the community.

Adam's interest in documenting lesbian history has spurred her serving as associate producer of the documentary films Radical Harmonies: A History of Women's Music (2002, directed by Dee Mosbacher) and No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon (2003, directed by Joan E. Biren).

Adam's songs have been performed by artists such as Dusty Springfield, Holly Near, Cris Williamson, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

In 1997, Adam received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan's Women's Music Festival, acknowledging her contribution to women's liberation and lesbian culture.

Tina Gianoulis


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A photograph of Margie Adam created by Angela Brinskele.
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arts >> Overview:  Documentary Film

The queer community has used documentary film to resurrect historical memory and to permit the marginalized to bear witness, as well as to build an image base that reflects our diversity and counters distorted representations.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lesbian Feminism

The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.

arts >> Overview:  Music Festivals

A cultural institution among lesbians, women's music festivals are community-based events that celebrate women's space as much as women's music.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Popular

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons have had tremendous influence on popular music, though some musical genres have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Women's

Stylistically diverse and continually evolving, women's music has broadened over time, but it remains committed to lesbian visibility and feminist values.

social sciences >> Overview:  Women's Liberation Movement

The Women's Liberation Movement, which flourished during the 1970s, constitutes the largest and most widely publicized social movement of women in history.

arts >> Biren, Joan Elizabeth (JEB)

During the 1970s and 1980s, the photographs of Joan Elizabeth Biren, better known as JEB, defined and set the standard for lesbian feminist image making in the United States.

arts >> Christian, Meg

Women's music pioneer Meg Christian was among the first performer to address lesbian and feminist issues in her songs.

arts >> Ferron (Debby Foisy)

Canadian folksinger Ferron (Debby Foisy) is a pioneer in women's music who has been compared to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

social sciences >> Lyon, Phyllis, (b. 1924) and Del Martin (1921-2008)

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were among the founders of a lesbian liberation movement that developed and enlarged the very definition of lesbianism.

literature >> Millett, Kate

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arts >> Near, Holly

Activist, singer, and songwriter Holly Near has been a tremendous influence in the formation and promotion of the women's music movement.

arts >> Springfield, Dusty

Now widely acclaimed as one of the greatest voices of popular music, British rock star of the 1960s Dusty Springfield has long been a lesbian icon.

arts >> Williamson, Cris

Pioneering singer, songwriter, activist, and teacher, Cris Williamson has been at the forefront of the women's music movement--and a major presence in the lesbian community--for decades.


Adam, Margie.

"Interview with Margie Adam." Queer Music Heritage.

Jacobs, Fay. "Kate Clinton and Margie Adams." Letters From Camp Rehoboth 15.3 (April 8, 2005):

Laine, Jody, with Shan Ottey and Shad Reinstein, dirs. Mom's Apple Pie. Seattle: Three Big Dykes Productions, 2006.

"Margie Adam." Contemporary Musicians 39 (2003). Rpt. Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.

Morris, Bonnie J. Eden Built by Eves: The Culture of Women's Music Festivals. Alyson Books, 1999.

_____. "In Their Own Voices: Oral Histories of Festival Artists." Frontiers (January 1, 1998).

Stendhal, Renate. "Open Door." The Advocate (January 31, 2006): 66.

"Talking with Margie Adam." Letters From Camp Rehoboth 12.2 (March 8, 2002):


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Adam, Margie  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated December 12, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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