Female Soldier Ballads

Female Soldier Ballads 2005
A cappella folk song cycle and screen printed broadsheets

Female Soldier Ballads is a cycle of ballads about U.S. military women Lynndie England, Jessica Lynch, Shoshanna Johnson, and Lori Piestewa that I composed and sang. The compositions are printed on decorative lyric sheets that reference 18th century broadsides, the forebearers of today’s tabloid newspapers.

The project departs from an early sub-genre of British folk ballads about cross-dressing female soldiers and sailors. Similar ballads are performed today, but the Female Soldier archetype also endures in less obscure forms of media. Since the US invaded Iraq, military women have been featured in such pop culture outlets as People Magazine, FOX News, and personal web logs. Their stories influence our understanding of the conflict through emotional appeals, not unlike the salacious 18th Century balladeers who raced to commit current events to verse.


Installation views at PS1’s Day Labor exhibition and details of the broadsheets: