Dobkin, Alix, 1940-2021

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Lesbian singer, songwriter, and activist, Alix Cecil Dobkin was born in New York City on August 16, 1940, to Bill and Martha Kunstlich Dobkin. She lived in Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, Missouri, before returning to Philadelphia at age 16. There she graduated in 1958 from Germantown High School and in 1962 from the Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University, where she studied painting. Dobkin's parents were members of the Communist Party, and she was exposed to folk music at home and at summer camp. Dobkin herself was a member of the Party from 1956 until 1962, several years after her parents had renounced it. After graduating from college, Dobkin went to Greenwich Village in New York City, where she sang folk music in coffeehouses. She traveled the folk music circuit for several years, and married Sam Hood, the manager of the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village, where she had been based. Together they opened the Gaslight South in Miami in 1965 that featured well-known folk singers. The club failed financially and they returned to New York City in 1968. Their daughter Adrian was born in 1970, and the marriage dissolved a year later.

In 1972, Dobkin fell in love with Liza Cowan, a writer who had a radio show on WBAI, and the couple came out publicly as lesbians. Dobkin decided to focus on writing and singing music about and for women; in 1973 she released Lavender Jane Loves Women, the first album specifically made by and for lesbians. That same year Dobkin founded a record label, Women's Wax Works, to produce her own albums. In 1974 Dobkin and Cowan moved to Preston Hollow, New York and in 1978, Dobkin moved to Woodstock, New York, where her daughter and three grandchildren also live.

Dobkin released six albums after Lavender Jane : Living With Lesbians (1976), XXAlix (1980), Never Been Better/(We Are Everywhere) (1985), These Women/Never Been Better (1986), Yahoo Australia (1990), and Love & Politics (1992). She has performed extensively in the United States, usually appearing at universities, house concerts, LGBT centers, and bookstores. Her early performances were exclusively for women and she was an outspoken advocate of women-only space, often a controversial subject. She appeared regularly at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (beginning in 1978) and at conferences, women's, lesbian, and folk festivals where she also gives workshops and readings from her memoir. Dobkin has performed in Hawaii and toured Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany,Switzerland, Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand. In the 1980s, she formed the Party Line Dance Band with lesbian musicians Debbie Fier and River Lightwomoon; the trio covered their favorite popular as well as original tunes and played at parties, festivals, and bars.

In 1979, Liza Cowan's Tomato Publications published Dobkin's songbook with history and commentary, Alix Dobkin's Adventures in Women's Music (More Than Just a Songbook) . She has been a frequent contributor to lesbian and women's periodicals, and to several edited collections about lesbians and women's culture. She has lectured at numerous universities, and has been featured, interviewed, and reviewed countless times in both the mainstream and alternative press. Her column, "Minstrel Blood," appeared in Chicago's Outlines and Windy City Times newspapers from 1997-2000, and was also syndicated.

During the 1980s, Dobkin developed a slide show and lecture on "Women Hating, Racism, and Violence in the Top 40" with Denslow Brown which they delivered at college campuses and other venues around the United States. In addition to performing at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, she also worked as a staff member for thirteen years. She served on the board of directors of the Association of Women's Music and Culture from 1990 to 1992, and on the board and Steering Committee of OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) from 2006 to the present. Dobkin moved to Oakland, California in 1995, returning to Woodstock, New York, in 2000, and continues to perform and tour throughout the United States. Her book My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement, will be published by Alyson Books in October, 2009.

From the guide to the Papers of Alix Dobkin, (inclusive), (bulk), 1973-2004, 1979-1995, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Alix Dobkin collection, [ca. 1982-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Music Collection MS 409., 1848-2003, 1930s-1980 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Near, Holly. Papers, 1967-1994 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1914-2007 (inclusive), 1973-2000 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project MS 661., 2010-2013 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Records of, Sojourner, (inclusive), (bulk), 1920-2004, 1975-2002 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dobkin, Alix. Audiotape collection of Alix Dobkin [sound recording]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Sophia Smith Collection. Music collection, 1840s-1980 (ongoing) (bulk 1930-80). Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Papers of Alix Dobkin, (inclusive), (bulk), 1973-2004, 1979-1995 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Documenting lesbian lives oral history project, 2010-2011 Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Records of Dyke, 1975-1978. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Audiotape collection of Alix Dobkin, 1975-1995 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA) Archives, ca. 1972-1994 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Papers of Holly Near, 1967-1994 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dobkin, Alix. Papers, 1974-2000 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adam, Margie. person
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associatedWith Alix Olson person
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associatedWith Association of Women's Music and Culture corporateBody
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correspondedWith Gayle, Marilyn person
associatedWith Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards corporateBody
associatedWith Geena Davis person
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associatedWith Johnson, Peggy. person
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correspondedWith Judy Fjell's person
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associatedWith York, Beth. person
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associatedWith Zicari, Leah. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Miami FL US
Woodstock NY US
Philadelphia PA US
Woodstock NY US
Greenwich Village NY US
New York City NY US
Kansas City (Kan.) KS US
Jewish lesbians
Jewish women
Lesbian separatism
Protest movements
Sexism in music
Women-owned business enterprises
Women singers
Women's music
Women's rights
Feminist music
Folk singers
Folk artists


Birth 1940-08-16

Death 2021-05-19






Ark ID: w6ps8mqv

SNAC ID: 86614011