The first book on women in ska will be released on March 8, 2023, International Women’s Day. Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond, Sally Brown Publishing, was written by ska music historian Heather Augustyn and 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.
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, “and when women hear their stories, they begin to see themselves in their lives. These women made space for the rest of us. They are incredibly inspiring, funny, and powerful.”
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, and numerous others.
Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond is Augustyn’s eighth book on ska music, including Ska: An Oral History, McFarland 2010; Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013; and Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music, McFarland, 2020. She wrote the award-winning documentary Pick It Up! Ska in the ‘90s from Pop Motion Pictures and has been invited to speak on ska music in Jamaica, Spain, Vietnam, and all over the United States. The Archives of African American Music and Culture features hundreds of her interviews, photos, and ephemera.
Augustyn is an English professor at Purdue University Northwest where she teaches composition and the popular course, “Catch A Fire: Bob Marley’s Lyrics and Life.”