Music for the Moment: An Asian American Offering
Music heals and reveals. It anchors us to the toughest of realities while also letting loose our imaginations.
This special program for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month features Asian American women musicians and performers who draw on deep cultural heritages and contemporary genres—from performance art and ritual to hip-hop, rock, and pop. We are honored to feature musician and dancer Dohee Lee, rapper Ruby Ibarra, guitarist June Millington of the rock band Fanny, and pop songwriter Connie K. Lim, aka MILCK, with a special message from activist Amanda Nguyen.
This event is co-presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
About the Participants
Amanda Nguyen is the founder of Rise, a national nonprofit organization that fights for the civil rights of sexual violence survivors. She wrote and advocated for the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights, which was unanimously passed into federal law in 2016, codifying civil rights for 25 million rape survivors in the United States. Since then, she has helped pass more than twenty state-level laws protecting survivor rights.
Dohee Lee is a multifaceted performing artist based in Oakland, California. Born and raised on Jeju Island, South Korea, she spent the first part of her life training in Korean traditional music and dance, and the ritual practices of Korean Shamanism. A musician, dancer, educator, and consummate collaborator, she uses traditional arts and culture to engage local immigrant and refugee communities in telling their migration journey stories, reclaiming their own myths, and honoring indigenous land, people and their myths. In 2014, she founded Dohee Lee Puri Arts with which she produces community projects in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as her touring multimedia performances.
Ruby Ibarra is a rapper, spoken-word artist, producer, activist, and scientist from the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in the Philippines, she spent her early years in Tacloban City before her family settled in San Lorenzo, California. Known for her sharp lyricism and rhythmic multi-syllabic flows—as well as her ability to rap in English, Tagalog, and Waray—she attributes her musical identity to being a child during the ’90. Constantly hearing Tupac, Eminem, and Wu Tang Clan play on the radio and television, she knew rap was the best way she could express herself.
June Millington is a musician, educator, and producer based in Goshen, Massachusetts. Born in Manila, in the Philippines, she grew up in Sacramento, California, after her family immigrated in 1961. With June on guitar and her sister Jean on bass, they started playing in bands in the mid-1960s. Later with two other musicians, they formed the band Fanny, the first all-female rock act to record an entire album for a major record label. She went on to be involved in the women’s music movement, headlining at festivals for decades and producing albums for others. In 1986, she co-founded the Institute for Musical Arts, whose mission is to support women and girls in music and music-related businesses.
MILCK (aka Connie K. Lim) is a musician and artivist based in Los Angeles. Music is her way of processing the world around her, while also imagining a better one that lies ahead. In 2017, a cell phone video captured her performance of her original song “Quiet” at the Women’s March, held one day after the presidential inauguration. The video went viral and was quickly echoed and amplified by groups around the world. “Quiet” was named Billboard’s #1 protest song of the year and was recognized in National Public Radio’s “American Anthem” series. She has continued to use music as a means to work toward social justice.