Girls Rock London (GRL) is an award-winning charity based in Hackney. We provide high-quality music programming for young and adult women, trans, and non-binary people, with a specific focus on increasing access for people who face barriers to participation.
- Our vision is of a world where girls, women, trans, and non-binary people are powerful and can achieve their potential.
- Our mission is to amplify their voices through music-making and community-building.
Our programmes are aimed at complete beginners as well as experienced musicians, and we work closely with
community partners to respond to the needs of young people experiencing multiple and intersecting
disadvantage. We aim to demystify music-making, challenge gender inequality in the music industry and wider
society, and provide safe, nurturing and joyful environments in which people can develop musically, personally
We are active members of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, a international network of youth-centered arts and
social justice organisations.
Our camp for adults - Never Too Late – is an intensive three-day camp that usually takes place over a bank holiday weekend.
It provides women, trans, and non-binary people aged 18 and over with the chance to write and perform an original song in a supportive environment.
At the camp, 25 participants form bands, and learn the basics in either the guitar, bass, drums, drum pads or synth. Everyone has the opportunity to work on and perform vocals. The camp ends in a final gig where the bands will play on stage at a live gig venue.
The programme is suitable for complete beginners as well as experienced players and we particularly encourage people who have never been involved in music-making to sign up!
Our summer camp is a six-day music programme where 25 young women and trans youth aged 11-16 develop the tools to write their own song with a band - and perform it at a live gig! All participants have the chance to work on and perform vocals, as well as to learn the basics in guitar, bass, drums, drum pads, or keyboard. They also learn about songwriting and meet established artists who perform at our lunchtime gigs.
As well as sessions focused on music-making, the camp includes a range of workshops on topics aimed at raising the participant's confidence and self-esteem. We also work closely with community partners to support young people who experience barriers to accessing opportunities like this one, and would love to hear from anyone working with young women and trans youth who might benefit from our work.
Our delivery team includes educators, musicians, youth workers and artists with extensive experience of working with children in diverse settings. We take safeguarding and child protection seriously and work hard to ensure that young people at our camps have a safe, supportive and fun week.
Our core delivery team is an international group of experienced educators, musicians and industry professionals.
Estella Adeyeri is a performing musician and multi-instrumentalist. She plays bass guitar in Black feminist punk band Big Joanie, and lead guitar in anarcho-pop punk outfit Charmpit. She has performed at leading music events including SXSW and Lollapalooza Berlin, and has featured with Big Joanie on radio stations and in publications such as BBC 6 Music, KEXP, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. She has toured extensively and has shared stages with artists including Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Gossip. Estella is a member of the organising team behind Decolonise Fest, an annual London-based music festival run by punks of colour for punks of colour. She is also a board member of the Good Night Out Campaign, which seeks to create safer nightlife spaces. She has volunteered with Girls Rock London since 2017 as a band coach, instrument tutor, and year-round organiser.
Jessie Maryon Davies is a pianist, composer and workshop leader. She is a founder member of Girls Rock London and believes that everyone has the right to create and be creative. Jessie is musical director of feminist pop choir Lips who have performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and live on BBC Television. In 2018, she was awarded The Unsung Hero award by Time Out recognising her achievements in building community through music. A passionate speaker on music’s unique power to strengthen community and enable personal development, Jessie has spoken live on BBC Radio, delivered a TEDx talk and chaired panels at the Southbank Centre and Serious Festival. She is member of a musical theatre performance group called Troupe and workshop leader in residence with Aurora Orchestra. Jessie plays keys and synth in the 3 piece synth-pop band Glorybox.
Kate Whitaker is a drummer and Clinical Psychologist. After studying for a BA in Music and Philosophy and MMus in Music Technology at the University of Leeds, Kate moved to London to work for the Learning team at Wigmore Hall, where for eight years she managed community music projects with diverse groups of people, including young people on the autism spectrum, refugees and asylum seekers, and people living with dementia. Alongside this, Kate played drums with groups including samba band Rhythms of the City and prog/jazz band The Filter Queue, as well as pursuing an MSc in Child Development at the UCL Institute of Education. Kate has been involved with Girls Rock London since their first camp as a band coach, instrument tutor, and music co-ordinator, and more recently a Core Team member. In 2016 Kate began training as a Clinical Psychologist, and now works with families in the NHS; however she is still very involved in music through GRL and playing drums with synth-driven trio Glorybox.
Geraldine Smith is CEO and co-founder of Girls Rock London, an organisation she helped to set up in 2015 after experiencing the joy of a girls rock camp as a volunteer whilst living in Vancouver BC. In 2009 she also co-founded Lips Choir, a 100-strong feminist pop choir based in London, which she managed until 2019. Prior to setting up these organisations, Geraldine worked for eight years at the National Union of Students where she promoted the rights of Black, LGBTQ+, women and disabled students through managing policy, research, campaigns and training. Before that she worked at Leeds College of Technology where she managed a youth volunteer programme, and at Abortion Rights supporting national campaigning activity focused on reproductive rights. Geraldine has an MSc in Gender from the London School of Economics, and still sings in Lips Choir.
Get Involved! Girls Rock London! very much welcomes the support and contributions of volunteers and community members. If you want to get involved in an exciting project giving young women and trans youth in London a voice, these are some of the ways you can help:
We need volunteers to help us deliver our programmes, teaching instruments, coaching bands, moving equipment, runing workshops and helping with events adminstration. All our roles at camp are for women, trans and gender nonconforming folk, but everyone is welcome to help out in non-camp roles
We are a small team committed to providing free and subsidised activities for people with limited financial resources. You can help by raising money, or – if you are a band or musician – by performing in a fundraiser.
We need electric guitars and basses, drum kits, amps and keyboards – either as a contribution or a loan. We also need ways of storing and transporting equipment before, during and after our programmes.
If you can help with any of the above, please get in touch; we would love to hear from you!
We are hugely grateful to all our supporters
None of our work would be possible without the generous support of our partners, funders and sponsors.
It is important at such a crucial moment in young women’s development to help instill in them a belief that their ideas and talents are of equal interest and worth to the world as that of their male counterparts. In addition, knowing that half of the openings within the programme are offered free to those from low income backgrounds, making the production of music accessible to all young women regardless of socio-economics is especially important to me
I came to camp thinking I was going to learn more about an instrument; what I really learned was how much potential I had as a musician and how it increased through collaboration.
It was the most exhilarating and inspiring weekend of my life. I never want this feeling to end. I just want to keep creating and performing music.
I love what GRL is and its morals and values; I’ve never seen an organisation/programme strive to be so inclusive. I’m literally in awe
I have struggled to find the words to express how grateful and inspired I am by the Girls Rock London team and how much the experience meant to me. If I was an economist I’d lay out the investment and return as unparalleled. I have never been in an environment as supportive, encouraging and uplifting as that at GRL. I think I’ve learnt more about music and creativity than any music or art class in the formal education system. Every member of the team blew me away with their approachability, friendliness, knowledge and skill, encouragement and guidance.
GRL has always given me such great experiences and opportunities. I really appreciate what you and all of GRL do and it has really boosted my confidence and helped me learn so many new things that I don’t think I would have been taught anywhere else.
- As part of the Innovate Programme, Sound Connections speaks to GRL! http://www.sound-connections.org.uk/news/girls-rock-london
- The Girls Are visited the GRL! 2016 girls camp; here is their ‘day in the life’ article featuring an interview with GRL! volunteer, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell http://www.thegirlsare.com/2016/08/21/feature-girls-rock-london/
- Fran Singh features GRL! in her Girls Rock movement article in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jan/03/girl-rock-camp-music-industry-sexism
- Dazed features GRL! launch in 2016 http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/30522/1/a-rock-school-for-girls-is-opening-in-london
- Crack Magazine announces GRL! in 2016 http://crackmagazine.net/2016/03/women-rock-london-announce-all-female-music-camp
- NME gets behind the scenes with GRL! in 2019 https://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/girls-rock-london-the-inspiring-project-shaking-up-the-music-industry-2380221