When the definitive history of the women’s music movement is written, Tret Fure’s name will be prominently featured. In fact, she will have at least one chapter.
Shortly after releasing her major-label debut in the mid-1970s, Fure worked behind the scenes at the legendary women’s music label Olivia. There she recorded an album of her own and also met Cris Williamson, with whom she launched both a personal and professional relationship. Following their break-up, Fure went on to release a number of her own albums, most recently “The Horizon.”
Fure appears with Women’s Voices Milwaukee in “a program of choral music, honoring the past generation of courageous and talented women who challenged the mainstream music institution by writing, producing and performing music by, for and about women,” according to a press release. The performance includes selections by such pioneering women’s music composers as Williamson, Alix Dobkin, Meg Christian and Kay Gardner.
I spoke with Fure in July.
Were you involved in putting together the program or did the chorus ask you to participate after it was planned?
They asked me afterward. They did a similar show before … to great success. What was inspirational was that younger women were educated in a way they had not been. They really loved the music, bought the old CDs, appreciated what had come before. And I think for the women who experienced that time, it was a great remembrance and celebration. So we are hoping to once again recapture that feeling, that time, that energy and bring the younger generations into the history of our work, our legacy.
Have you had the experience of having your songs performed in a choral setting before?
I've had that experience many times, and it is always transformational, inspiring. One time I remember quite well was in 2003 at P-Town (Provincetown, Mass.). I hadn't been in three years, since Cris (Williamson) and my separation, and I felt it was time to come back. People wanted me back in P-Town. I did a show that opened with the Hartford Women's Chorus, and we did "Coming Home" at the end of their set. It was very poignant. In fact, I walked on stage to a standing ovation, which is rare, and when we did that song, there was great magic in the air.
Were you ever a member of a women’s chorus?
No, I've always shied away from choruses. I don't know why. I never considered myself a singer until I picked up the guitar, and it took a few years after that to find my voice. So I've always been solo or duo. I'm not a joiner, and that might be part of it. I tend to move alone or in partnership.
You have a lot of well-deserved awards. What does that kind of recognition mean to you?
It makes me feel that I do serve a purpose. Though being an artist is mostly a selfish endeavor, it is also about feeling valued and being valuable in one's community. I know I have touched lives, I know I have somehow, in some small way, enriched the lives of women and men through my music, through the many ways I work and through the commitment I have to our culture and our heritage.
Until fairly recently, you were a Wisconsin resident. What precipitated your relocation?
I am in a new relationship. My partner has children, and they are rooted in Virginia. It was much easier for me to move to Newport News than for them to move to me. I'm really a vagabond, a rambler. I've lived in 13 cities so far in my life. My home is the world. It always has been.
What do you miss most about Wisconsin?
I miss being in a liberal environment and a very gay environment, but what I have in Newport News is tremendous cultural diversity, much more so than Wisconsin. But Virginia is the Old Dominion. We have work to do. But then again ... so does Wisconsin!
Your most recent studio recording “The Horizon” was released in 2010. Is there a new album in the works?
Yes, I hope to have a new CD in 2013, but most likely late in the year. I'm on the road for most of the rest of the year, and find it hard to write on the road. I also need to start fundraising for the new CD. And I am president of Local 1000, and that takes up a great deal of my time. It's hard to squirrel away time to write! And I'm supposed to be slowing down (laughs).