School of rock

20 October 2015

Eight years after her first performance at a campus band competition, The Jezabels' frontwoman Hayley Mary returned to the University of Sydney this week to deliver a guest lecture to students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

(L-R) Dr Rebecca Sheehan and Hayley Mary at the University of Sydney.

Hayley, an alumna from the Department of English, spoke to students about her musical and feminist influences and experiences as a woman in the music industry for the 'Sex, Race and Rock' unit, taught by Dr Rebecca Sheehan.

"This course represents a hybrid of the two things that saved my life – knowledge and rock‘n’roll – at the University of Sydney, where I first really started delving into both," Hayley said.

"I think maybe if there had been a course like this when I was at uni, I might have been more prepared for some of the pitfalls I would face in the future as a woman in the music industry, or any industry. As it happened, I fell headfirst into most of them."

Hayley said it was great to see rock‘n’roll being taken more seriously in academia, when it had perhaps been thought of as "trivial" in the past.

"The fact is that most of the important movements in recent history, from civil rights to the women’s movement, and sexual liberation to punk, animal rights and environmentalism, were and are inseparable from rock‘n’roll. People often say it’s dead, but it just changes and those changes are worth paying attention to," she said.

Dr Sheehan, a lecturer in US history at the United States Studies Centre, said her students benefited from hearing Hayley’s first-hand accounts of the music industry.

"Music is personal – we each have our own relationship with it. It was great to hear Hayley’s insights into her own relationship with music,” she said.

Dr Sheehan said Hayley had appeared in previous iterations of the ‘Sex, Race and Rock’ unit via pre-recorded interviews, but this was her first in-person lecture at the University.   

“At the beginning of semester students said that they were hoping to see Hayley live, and it was fantastic that we were able to figure it out,” she said.

Jennifer Peterson-Ward

Assistant Media and PR Adviser (Division of Humanities and Social Sciences)

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