Live preview: She's Got the Power: A Girl Group Extravaganza

Veteran performers shine a light on a cherished niche in American pop.

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Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore Photograph: Courtesy Lincoln Center

For the past decade, New Orleans' annual Ponderosa Stomp festival has honored the underappreciated architects of R&B, blues, country, and early rock & roll. More recently, the Stomp has partnered with Lincoln Center on a series of summer shows that have spotlighted rural rockabilly, Southern soul and Detroit rock. This year's edition maintains a distinct New York focus, assembling an impressive array of veteran talent to pay tribute to the original girl-group explosion.

The genre—which thrived in the pre--British Invasion '60s, and which was largely centered in the New York area—has been dismissed unfairly as lightweight fluff by many mainstream (i.e., male) rock-history gatekeepers. But the best girl-group records delivered a level of emotional urgency that belied the music's sugary surface, crystallizing adolescent elation and heartbreak while introducing a female perspective into the otherwise male-dominated rock & roll field. The music resonated deeply with kids on both sides of the Atlantic, including the pre-stardom Beatles, whose early repertoire included numerous girl-group covers.

Given the Stomp's track record of presenting music with care and taste, devotees can expect those qualities to be reflected in this all-star revue, whose roster of vintage performers includes iconic Wall of Sound survivors Ronnie Spector and Lala Brooks (formerly of the Ronettes and Crystals, respectively), along with protofeminist teen auteur Lesley Gore, still-vital soul divas Maxine Brown and Baby Washington, and members of such notable acts as the Chantels, the Toys, the Angels, the Cookies and the Exciters. The show will be preceded at noon by a symposium at the David Rubenstein Atrium, featuring vintage film footage and live interviews with several of the show's performers.

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