||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-Songwriter, Political Activist|
|Associated acts||Tret Fure
Cris Williamson is an American feminist singer-songwriter, who achieved fame as a recording artist, and who was a pioneer as a visible lesbian political activist, during a time when few who were not connected to the Lesbian community were aware of Gay and Lesbian issues. Williamson's music and insight has served as a catalyst for change in the creation of women-owned record companies in the 1970s. Using her musical talents, networking with other lesbian artists of musical quality, and her willingness to represent those who did not yet feel safe in speaking for themselves, Williamson is remembered by many in the LGBT community for her contributions, both artistically, and politically, and continues to be a role model for a younger generation hoping to address concerns and obtain recognition for achievements specific to people who have historically been ignored.
Williamson was born in 1947 in Deadwood, South Dakota, although her family moved to Colorado and Wyoming when she was still young. Her musical idol at the time was Judy Collins, and Williamson developed a musical style and sound that was similar to that of Collins. She released her first album, The Artistry of Cris Williamson in 1964, when she was sixteen. She became a local musical sensation in Sheridan, Wyoming, releasing two following LPs afterward. Williamson graduated from the University of Denver. She supported herself initially as a schoolteacher, however, during the same time, collaborated with other women who were also singer-songwriters and performing artists, and began to network with Holly Near, Meg Christian, and Margie Adam; all musicians who became women artists of stature, forming an entirely new genre of music, primarily about and for women.
During a radio interview in Washington, D.C. in 1973, Williamson suggested that a record label aimed at gay women would be a good idea. The independent label Olivia Records was founded the next day. Olivia Records released Williamson's The Changer and the Changed (1975), which became one of the best-selling independent releases of all time.
- "The Changer and the Changed was to women's music what Michael Jackson's Thriller was to the music industry in general in the mid-'80s, an album that sold far beyond the perceived size of the market, more than 100,000 copies in its first year of release. Eventually, it reportedly sold more than 500,000 copies, which would make it a gold album, although it has not been certified as such by the RIAA. (That does not disprove the sales estimate, however. Albums are not certified automatically; a record company must request certification and pay for an audit.)" 
Williamson went on to record more than a dozen more albums with Olivia Records, then after its demise formed her own label, Wolf Moon Records. This helped to set the pace for other recording artists who found it difficult to work with the major record labels. In 1982, she collaborated with Estonian artist/author Viido Polikarpus on a science fiction/fantasy fable lp and book (with Polikarpos' art work) entitled "Lumiere" and released on Pacific Cascade Records.
Williamson has worked as a session musician both to support herself and to lend assistance to other fellow artists. She has collaborated with other women's music artists, including Meg Christian and Teresa Trull. She has friends in many corners; one longtime friend is musician Bonnie Raitt, who has played on some of her albums.
Political activism and charity work
Williamson has been a lesbian feminist and a promoter of women owned music companies. She has recently become involved in a new project with Bonnie Raitt.
- 1964 The Artistry of Cris Williamson
- 1965 A Step at a Time
- 1965 The World Around Cris Williamson
- 1971 Cris Williamson
- 1975 The Changer and the Changed: A Record of the Times
- 1978 Live Dream
- 1980 Strange Paradise
- 1982 Blue Rider
- 1982 Lumière
- 1983 Meg/Cris at Carnegie Hall
- 1985 Prairie Fire
- 1985 Snow Angel
- 1987 Wolf Moon
- 1989 Country Blessed
- 1990 The Best of Cris Williamson
- 1991 Live in Concert: Circle of Friends
- 1994 Postcards from Paradise
- 1997 Between the Covers
- 1999 Radio Quiet
- 2001 Ashes
- 2003 Cris & Holly
- 2003 Replay
- 2005 The Essential Cris Williamson
- 2005 Real Deal
- 2005 The Changer and the Changed: A Record of the Times [30th *Anniversary Enhanced]
- 2007 Fringe
- 2008 Winter Hearts
- 2010 "Gifthorse"
- 2013 "Pray Tell"
- Ruhlmann, William (2005-12-15). "Cris Williamson". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
- Cris Williamson: Encyclopedia of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Culture
- May 12, 2007 17th Annual Morristown Women's Festival
- Garofalo, Reebee (1992) Rockin' the Boat, p. 245 South End Press ISBN 0-89608-427-2
- Kort, Michelle (accessed July 15, 2007) Dated August 15, 2000 The Advocate "The Changer and the Changed"