Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.
Who? Madalyn Sklar is the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com, an international organization specializing in advancement opportunities for independent female artists. Sklar started the organization in 1996 out of her own frustration of going to local guitar shops and getting ignored.
"The Internet was new, and I thought I could use it to connect with other female musicians," she laments. "There was nothing out there connecting musicians at the time."
On the last Wednesday of every month, GGM hosts a meet-up at Smiley Face Records, an appointment-only Montrose recording studio. Here, anyone in the Houston area, whether guy or lady, can network, jam with other musicians and talk to music-industry insiders. The organization makes great use of a variety of social-media platforms, with a weekly Twitter chat (#ggchat) has become widely popular.
The organization's motto is "We are all in this together to learn and grow, fostering a much-needed community of like-minded female artists, and making a difference in the music world."
Home Base: GoGirlsMusic is a Houston-based organization. Though Sklar was born and raised in Houston, she recently moved back to her old Meyerland neighborhood in after 20 years of residing in Sugar Land. "It's nice being closer to everything again," she says.
War Story: Sklar's favorite story involves a young girl named Cheyenne Kimball, who joined GGM in 2000. The local show coordinator booked her last-minute to play only a few songs in between bands for the GoGirlsMusicFest charity show at Dallas' Hard Rock Cafe.
"She was only ten years old and completely wowed the packed house -- me included, with her original songs," Sklar remembers. "It was just her singing and playing acoustic guitar."
In between tapings of the first season of NBC's America's Most Talented Kid in 2003, Kimball played a GoGirls show at Houston's Rhythm Room. "Weeks later, she won the entire thing," Sklar recollects. "She clearly had the makings of a rock star."
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Sklar's assessment was right. Kimball later signed with Epic Records and had her own reality show, MTV's aptly titled Cheyenne, in 2006. She also taped a commercial for Candies with legendary rocker Pat Benatar, and was briefly a member of the country band Gloriana from 2008-09. Currently Kimball is residing in Nashville, writing music.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I work with lots of indie artists, and most complain they get better paying gigs outside their local music scene," Sklar says. She recommends that musicians network with each other in their area at meet-ups and open-mike nights.
Why Do You Stays in Houston? Sklar stays in Houston because this is where her family is. "I'm actually a native Houstonian," she adds.
Top 5 Desert Island Discs:
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- Rush, Moving Pictures
- Adele, 21
- Sarah Bettens, Scream
- Matt Nathanson, Some Mad Hope
- ELO, Greatest Hits