New ska book ‘Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond’ out now

The first book on women in ska released on March 8, 2023, International Women’s Day. Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond, by ska music historian Heather Augustyn contains well over 50 interviews with women involved in ska bands that began during the 2 Tone era of ska in the late 1970s through the 1980s.

Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond features interviews with members of the Selecter, the Specials and the Special AKA, the Bodysnatchers, the Beat, the Go-Go’s, the Belle Stars, Bow Wow Wow, Amazulu, Dexys Midnight Runners, Fun Boy Three, the Mo-Dettes, the Deltones, the Swinging Cats, the Potato 5, Maroon Town, Bananarama, Splashdown, the Friday Club, Holly and the Italians, the Forest Hill Billies, the Lemons, the Loafers, and many more.

Women vocalists, musicians, composers, and managers are finally recognized as Augustyn weaves their personal stories of empowerment and struggle into a narrative with details of their bands’ performances and recordings. Many bands played ska exclusively, while others dabbled in ska or toured with and supported ska. Some are well known, some are more obscure.

“Women’s voices have been largely silent, until now,” said Augustyn. “These women made space for the rest of us. They are incredibly inspiring, funny, and powerful.”

[...] The ska revival in the UK and the 2 Tone label represented unity of black and white in both the content of the songs, and appearance of the bands. While race may have been central to this declaration, where did gender fit in? Many bands had few, if any, women in their lineup and so women had to do it for themselves. Empowered by punk and impassioned by Jamaican ska and reggae, they took up the microphone, the saxophone, drumsticks. Women demanded their space on the stage and in the studio. Through exclusive interviews with more than 50 women involved in ska in the UK during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond tells their stories of adversity, perseverance, and sisterhood for an inspiring look at half of the story that has never been told.