International Women's Day: Carla Marie Williams

Happy International Women’s Day! I sit here reflecting on my journey thus far and continue to pinch myself, closing my eyes, holding onto the day that Beyoncé came into my studio session to write with me! I share this not because I wish to brag or boast, but really to convey that “Anything is possible”. On that day, I vowed to encourage as many women as possible to chase their dreams and celebrate their successes, every last bit of it!

I started off writing poems about boyfriends and feelings. Writing words was my release and way of saying the unspoken. I then later met with my now best friend Jonathan Coffer, who took my words and showed me how to translate them into song, merging lyrics and melody. My words soon became full blown songs and I went from a girl sitting in her room, writing lyrics to her boyfriend, to a fully fledged songwriter writing organic anthemic songs.

But it wasn't until I met Brian Higgins from Xenomania, that my talent became my career and I started having actual chart success. It was very different to what I had been doing before as I was now writing to backing tracks, instead of the acoustic guitar and had to detach all my personal emotion from my songs and start to walk in the shoes of the artist, who at the time was Girls Aloud. It was a massive learning curve and being at the Xenomania stable for over two years really developed me in how to deliver and structure really great pop songs.

It makes me smile now, because as much as I am pushing for that gender balance for women and closing the gap, the irony is it has been men that have used their male privilege to open doors for me in my career. They have used their influence and association to actually help get me through the door. For that I will always appreciate the power of the male ally. I truly believe men have a huge role to play in the women’s equality movement for this reason. I call for more men across the industry to step up and start to open doors and support more talented women.

Girls I Rate? It is the movement I started back in 2015 and launched in 2016, which is now a not for profit organisation that boasts 2000 members and many educational programmes, events, panels, masterclasses and sessions to bring women together and to push for change, opportunity and equality within the music and creatives industries.

Writing professionally for 10 years, it didn’t dawn on me until three years ago that I have hardly ever worked with women or even knew any women in my immediate music community! All my co-writers, producers, engineers, A&R, lawyers and management friends were male. As much as we have done great business together, I craved to meet and build with more women, like myself who have been in the industry for years. I also wanted to do something to support and give a platform for the future generation of girls coming through.

Since launch, I have partnered with organisations such as PRS, PRS Foundation, Island Records and VEVO, hosting #GetHeard A&R Weekenders which engaged with 1,000 young female artists and provided the opportunity to get their music in front of the industry’s leading A&Rs. There has been an Arts Academy too, which was a weekend hub of learning and development for females aged 16-30, with another one coming this summer.

My mission with Girls I Rate is to celebrate, inspire and empower. Push for more recognition, better gender equality and more opportunity!

The groundswell of support for women’s equality has grown and grown, but there is still much work to be done and as long as change is needed, then Girls I Rate still has a purpose. The Gala event on International Women’s Day is pivotal to the cause. I urge the industry to get behind it. The exclusive event will raise vital funds that will allow the GIR movement to deliver more educational Arts Academies and programmes to girls and women from all over the UK.

You can get involved, follow us on socials, share our news with your network, donate, be an advocate, male and female alike, push for positive change for women by supporting Girls I Rate.

Carla Marie Williams

@CarlaMarieUK@GirlsIRate