Appreciating Camille Gage: a musician, activist, mother, grandmother and more

Camille Gage lived many interesting and inspirational lives; we just wish we’d live them a little longer. Camille passed away on December 5, 2022. We will miss her and we send our best to her family and those who love her.

Camille sang vocals and played keyboards for Têtes Noires, touted as the first all-female rock band from Minneapolis. According to Wikipedia, their first show was at the 1983 Pride Festival in Loring Park. The festival wasn’t the extravaganza it is now; it was smaller, low key. But for some of us that just left more room for dancing and I remember dancing at that show with my high school dancing buddy Scott Odman.

We were enchanted. It was amazing to see women rock it. Their feminist twang and humor hit the perfect note. It opened doors to more women (more genders) on stage and the more strident feminist voices that we enjoy today.

But music isn’t how I know Camille. She was a great advocate and voice for change, especially for climate change. We held up banners together over Highway 35W and we ran into each other in odd places, such as Northern Minnesota for the Gathering of the Grandmothers to protect the water. Or even odder places, such as the YWCA Triathlon. She was excited to be taking on the swimming portion for a tag team.

Our mutual friend, Monica Nilsson spoke about Camille,

Camille sought wellbeing in nature. She also sought it in relationship. Just a year ago at this time, she and Joan Vorderbruggen organized a number of givers to make plates of holiday goodies for the shelter and housing programs with which I worked. Camille was a smiling friend, artist, athlete, organizer, activist, homeless advocate.

I met Camille through Monica a few years ago.  My younger fan girl sang “Kids in France” for weeks and high fived my older self on meeting someone so cool.

Another mutual friend, Cindy Lawson (front woman for The Clams), remembered one of her first gigs was opening up for Têtes Noires at First Avenue. Cindy had this to say about Camille,

Camille was an inspiring and enthusiastic activist who always led with her heart. Her passion for the arts and her love for her family were all-encompassing and I will truly miss her bright and shining presence in this world.

Camille had a grace. She always seemed so happy and grateful. So easy to want to emulate her spirit; I think I’ll continue to do strive to do that.

[Added Jan 31, 2023: Camille’s life will be celebrated at the Hook and Ladder on Feb 4, 2023.]

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