Name Heather Jackson

Age 35

Hometown Minot, ND

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background with music, education, or social justice work.

I started playing flute in 5th grade and played all through public schooling. I got into punk rock when I was about 14/15 and started going to punk shows at a local skate park venue. I made new friends and finally felt like I fit in somewhere. Punk rock made Minot far more bearable and I saw so many awesome bands. My baby-daddy was in a popular band in Minot and showed me how to play bass a little bit. I moved to Minneapolis when my kiddo was 2 (2003) and continued going to shows and got into activism more. I came across a website called that was run by and for teen mothers (I was a teen and single mom!). I joined and ended up making a lot of amazing friends (and still have many of them). We were all very involved in radical activism including LGBTQ issues, reproductive rights, welfare and class, feminism, anarchism, POC issues, and so on.

I moved to Grand Forks, ND in 2007, transferred my college credits from a community college in Minneapolis to the University of North Dakota and joined Students for a Democratic Society and a pro-choice group. I also did a lot of bike activism, including Critical Mass, building bikes, and teaching bike repair in my front yard. I also went to the radical protests against the World Bank in 2007 in DC with some SDSers. SDS also staged walk-outs, had discussions about capitalism and the state, participated in the protests against the RNC and DNC in 2008. The pro-choice had a lot of discussions on campus about reproductive issues, but we also car-pooled to Fargo every Wednesday to clinic escort at the only abortion clinic in North Dakota. When the Occupy movement began, I was involved with the Occupy Grand Forks group. I moved to Rhode Island at the very end of 2014 and finally started to learn instruments I’ve always wanted to learn!! I could play guitar a little bit and my daughter saved up her money when she was 11 and bought a guitar and amp. I have a BA in sociology and women’s studies, MA in counseling, and MPH.

For musicians: Are you currently playing music? If so, tell us about it!

Yes! I play guitar, drums, and ukulele. I am currently in a band with a friend. Our band is called The Aubrey Graham. We are basically a kinda punk band and our songs are nerdy, but also touch on political issues in a silly and sarcastic way. I play mostly drums, but we do switch between drums and guitar and we have a couple songs where I play ukulele and do back up vocals and my bandmate sings.

What are some awesome bands featuring female-identified, trans, or gender non-conforming musicians that you are listening to right now? 

Snail Mail (indie rock w/ amazing lyrics)
Au Revoir Simone (dream indie pop from NY)
Free Cake For Every Creature (indie cutesy rock)
Lady Lamb (awesome solo project, guitar, folksy, amazing lyrics)
Waxahatchee (indie rock band w/ cute lyrics)
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su (trans woman of color music project – amazing)
Kilo Kish (rapper/dream pop from Brooklyn)
Wrenn (sad girl rock)
Abra (R&B/Soul/Freestyle/Rap)
Screaming Females (rock w/ amazing guitar riffs)

What is your role at Girls Rock! Rhode Island?

I am currently the Food Coordinator! But I help out with other things! 🙂

What is your favorite camp or after school moment?

I love seeing the youth watch the bands at lunch time! It’s awesome to see youth be exposed to live music, especially at a young age. It makes me happy they’re having that experience and also being to do the same thing at the end of camp.

Why do you think someone should volunteer for Girls Rock! Rhode Island?

I think they should volunteer because it’s been a super awesome way for me to meet people in the area, but also get connected with awesome musicians and see how empowering music can be for people. I always found music as a source of getting through the tough pre-teen and teen years (although I was listening, not writing it). I work as a therapist and often have this conversation and sometimes bring my guitar or ukulele to sessions (for some of my pre-teen and teen clients with depression). Music is such a healthy way of dealing with hard things in our lives and as a volunteer, you can spread that idea to others. Further, it’s been awesome to see people work together and you get a different take on it when you’re a volunteer and see awesome moments among volunteers and campers. Plus the vibe is super supportive!!

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Girls Rock! Rhode Island at camp or throughout the year, visit our Volunteer page.