Annabel Bennett. Who is Annabel Bennett? Don’t know? Okay, let me tell you. Annabel Bennett is, er, wait for it…Arthur Parker. What? What are you talking about, I hear you ask? Hold your horses! Annabel Bennett is a composer and as you can tell from her first name, she is a female composer. However, being a female composer, she had found it difficult to get her music noticed. It’s all in the name. Remember my last post on what’s in a name? Well, here is the second part of that conundrum.
Annabel Bennett, a 50-year-old pianist, is a woman who has produced more than 350 original compositions since 2012. We are not talking slouch here. And I am sure her work was far beyond excellent. But could she get anyone – I mean anyone important in the music industry, that is – to take her and her music seriously and give her some decent airtime? No! But she had a plan. Desperate situations, needs must, and all that.
Annabel came up with the idea of presenting her work as Arthur Parker. Yes! As a man. And you would never guess what happened next. The BBC – yes, the great British Broadcasting Institution – played her … I mean, played his uploaded pieces almost immediately and as Arthur Parker, the compositions are now the most played on the BBC’s Introducing programme (which aims to discover and promote new talent). Furthermore, Annabel, as Arthur Parker, has since recorded an album at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London. I am obliged to state here that the BBC disputes any claims of gender bias.
Notwithstanding, this business of name changing, and more particularly gender-based name changing, to assist the entry into a person’s desired profession, is not a new device. No. Think of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, who all published their early writings under male pseudonyms. Think of George Eliot, that great author of Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede, who was a Mary Ann Evans. And think too of our modern-day JK Rowling who writes her crime novels under the name of Robert Galbraith. And consider also that she chose to start her writing career as a gender neutral JK Rowling. My question is, is this the way to go? Is this the way forward? Is this the way to get ahead? By changing your name to suit, like Kayo Anosike and Annabel Bennett, who felt they had no choice but to do so. You tell me. Till I hear different, I shall remain, yours truly, J.A. Lovelock.