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Dobkin, Alix (b. 1940)  
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Alix Dobkin has been a lifelong progressive activist and a pioneer in women's music. She was already a seasoned folk music performer in the early 1970s when a consciousness-raising group led her to the feminist movement and she came out as a lesbian. She thenceforward focused her energy on creating a women's culture based in radical politics.

Dokin's first album, Lavender Jane Loves Women, produced in 1973 with Kay Gardner and Marilyn Ries, not only ushered in a new era of lesbian music, produced by women for women, but also paved the way for mainstream lesbian musicians from k.d. lang and the Indigo Girls to Bitch and Chely Wright.

The biography of her early years, My Red Blood, published in 2009, chronicles not only her own life, but the coming of age of a generation.

Dobkin was born on August 16, 1940 in New York City into a Jewish Communist family. She was named Alix for an uncle who was executed while fighting against Fascists during the Spanish Civil War.

She grew up aware of a rich family tradition of leftist politics and resistance to oppression. In early childhood she bit a neighbor child who used an anti-Jewish slur, thus exhibiting her own early dedication to fighting back against intolerance.

Reared at a time when anti-Communist hysteria came to dominate American life, Dobkin grew up in a family that was constantly aware of surveillance and suspicion. She learned to value the power of solidarity and the galvanizing force of music to build that solidarity.

The Dobkin family lived in New York, Philadelphia, and even two uncomfortable years in Kansas City during the mid-1950s. She graduated from Philadelphia's Germantown High School in 1958, and from Philadelphia's Tyler School of Fine Arts in 1962. Soon afterwards, she left for New York to join the growing folk music movement which was centered in Greenwich Village.

During the next ten years, she became deeply involved in the folk scene and built a successful career as a folksinger. She was known especially for a diverse repertoire of songs from many countries.

In 1965, Dobkin married Sam Hood, who managed the Gaslight, a popular Village folk venue. The couple had a daughter, Adrian, before divorcing during the early 1970s.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, progressive women began to examine their position as women, in the larger society and in the social justice movement. One of the most powerful organizing tools in building the women's liberation movement was the consciousness-raising group, where, often for the first time, women began to talk to each other about the injustices in their lives.

Dobkin became part of a consciousness-raising group and soon became an active feminist. As happened with many women, once they became open to the possibility of loving women, she also fell in love with her close friend, writer and radio host Liza Cowan, and came out as a lesbian.

As an activist and a musician, it was natural that Dobkin soon began to put her new passions into song. By 1973 she had joined with two other lesbians to produce Lavender Jane Loves Women, the first album produced entirely by women with songs specifically for women. With titles like "The Woman in Your Life," and "Her Precious Love," Lavender Jane was openly lesbian and forcefully feminist.

The album ushered in the genre of "women's music," a feminist offshoot of the folk movement that combined traditional and original songs with an intent to raise political consciousness, which Dobkin hoped would lead to political action.

Dobkin followed Lavender Jane with Living With Lesbians (1976), XXAlix (1980), and These Women (1986). Her music became the coming-out soundtrack for thousands of lesbians, and her women-only concerts became dynamic meeting places for emerging lesbian communities across the country.

Dobkin, who wrote columns and articles for lesbian and gay newspapers and magazines, such as Chicago Outlines, Windy City Times, off our backs, Lesbian News, and Rain & Thunder, became almost as well known for her rousing commentary as for her woman-positive lyrics. She remarked wryly, "My job is to say 'lesbian' as often as possible."

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Alix Dobkin's autobiography (Alyson, 2009).
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