Girls Rock Louisville interns
Meet the Girls Rock Louisville interns: Maddie Phelps, Grace Robinson, Greta Reel and Laura Mattingly. | Courtesy of Girls Rock Louisville

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be in a rock ’n’ roll band like Susanna Hoffs in The Bangles. But instead of actually learning an instrument — although I did play alto saxophone in fifth-grade band — I lived vicariously through Barbie & The Rockers and the totally outrageous Jem. Remember her?

Thank god times have changed, and if a little girl wants to be in a band, then give her an electric guitar and show her to Girls Rock Louisville, a nonprofit that empowers girls, trans and gender non-conforming youth through music.

Each summer, the organization hosts about 50 teenagers in a one-week camp where they learn instruments, form bands and even start writing and performing songs.

poster of Showcase
Design by Natalie Felker

The culmination of their efforts takes the form of a Girls Rock Showcase, which is open to the public and takes place this year on Friday at Art Sanctuary. The all-ages, family-friendly rock show gives the young performers a spotlight and a stage on which to perform for a live audience for the very first time.

Of course, friends and family show up, but anyone who is interested in witnessing the budding talent and wants to give a boost of confidence with applause is welcome to stop by.

Insider reached out to the four teenage interns who volunteered at the camp to find out more about Friday’s showcase.

The girls — Maddie Phelps, Grace Robinson, Greta Reel and Laura Mattingly — are former Girls Rock Louisville participants who are moving into leadership roles within the organization, and some of their intern duties include running social media outlets, helping teach the campers, leading a workshop and also forming a band that will perform Friday as well.

Phelps, Robinson, Reel and Mattingly collectively answered our questions via email, so here’s what they had to say.

Insider Louisville: Can you tell us some of the band names?

Interns: Some bands are still working out their artistic ideas for names, but so far we have Angels of Anguish, Rotten Rainbows, and Blame It On My Sign.

IL: What’s the most difficult part of the process of learning rock ’n’ roll?

Interns: For guitar and bass, it’s building up strength to play on the strings. While it is only a week, it gets them started and gives them a space to feel comfortable learning.

IL: How are the bands initially formed?

Interns: We place the campers in bands prior to camp based on instrument selection and some other factors to best set the campers up for success during the week.

IL: Do they sing originals or covers, or a mix?

Interns: Campers write their own songs. It’s pretty cool that in the course of a week, they learn instruments and form a band with an original song to perform on Friday!

bass practice
Bass practice at this year’s Girls Rock camp | Courtesy of Girls Rock Louisville

IL: From 1 to 10, what is the anxiety level like an hour before the Showcase begins for the students? 

Interns: Eleven! Everyone is ready, but the moments before it sinks in and nerves can get you. It’s such an amazing experience once you are on stage, but the buildup is stressful.

IL: Can you tell us more about the bands and their genres? 

Interns: It’s a variety! It really varies from year to year and on what the campers come up with. The cool thing about Girls Rock is they have the ability to do any genre of song — from hip-hop to instrumental to rock to experimental!

IL: What are you most looking forward to during the Showcase? 

Interns: Seeing all the bands perform! It is really a journey throughout the week, and seeing all the effort campers put in and the music they perform is something so amazing.

The Girls Rock Louisville Showcase begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at Art Sanctuary, 1433 Shelby St. Admission is $5. 

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."