In this week’s Wednesday 5: The White House celebrates “Women of Soul”; celebrating Billie Holiday; the ladies of The Bletchley Circle are back; Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the UK’s ONLY annual book award for fiction written by a woman, announces its 2014 shortlist; and some inspiring words from inspiring women activists.




Women of Soul

“A woman of soul is a woman who understands that music changes the spirit, music heals the spirit,” said Melissa Etheridge at last month’s “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul” with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Calling these women the great “foremothers” of American music, the White House hosted music legends and contemporary artists Tessanne Chin, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monáe, and Jill Scott, whose songs express the struggles and achievements of women. Watch the clip here.



Happy Birthday, Billie Holiday

Billie HolidayBillie Holiday’s Album Covers

Speaking of women of soul, Monday, April 7, would have marked the 99th birthday of the iconic Billie Holiday. In tribute, The New Yorker’s photo department reflected on several images of Holiday spanning the 1930s to the 1950s. American singer Barbara Lea had said of Holiday in the February 27, 1978, issue of the magazine:

What she did, especially in the early days, was terribly honest and direct. She flattened out the melody of her songs. She could swing incredibly. Sweet-and-sour, dill pickles, strong, cutting—she was an absolute. She sprang full grown from the head of Jove.




The Ladies of Bletchley Circle

It’s almost April 13! And if you’re not eagerly awaiting the premiere of Mad Men like our Alexandra MacAaron, that means you’re set for the premiere of Season 2 of The Bletchley Circle.  The thrilling series follows  four “ordinary” (but not really) women with the extraordinary ability to break codes—skills they honed during World War II when they worked undercover at Bletchley Park, site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption establishment. Caitlin Roper writes in WIRED magazine:

Ass-kicking heroines are my cup of tea. . . They’re experts at pattern recognition, cryptography, and deduction—they fought the Nazis and won—but you wouldn’t know it if you met them for tea. . . It’s their restraint, and ability to shed it when they choose, that makes me love these women so much. They are mistresses of their own fate.



The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction


The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the UK’s ONLY annual book award for fiction written by a woman, announced its  2014 shortlist. Launched in 1996, the Prize celebrates excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing globally. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie,’ created by the artist Grizel Niven. This year’s shortlist authors are:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Hannah Kent – Burial Rites
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland
Audrey Magee – The Undertaking
Eimear McBride – A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch


Inspiring Words from Inspiring Women Activists


In this week’s dose of inspiration, we share with you “14 Inspiring Women and the Inspiring Things They Said, which is beautifully curated by, a global initiative fighting world poverty.

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