Cathy is miffed that “nobody has reached a Lilith Fair festival since the 90s”. She thought back to advice given by her father to “find a need and meet it.” This gap in the region bred the idea to host an all-female music festival in DC. Cathy told us, “this is clearly my purpose and I am passionate about it. It is how I’ve come to find my place in this area to use the connections I have made.” Cathy continued, “Women are a minority. When I was little, I was scared to touch certain instruments, and I was made to feel like I couldn’t do certain things and I don’t want it to be that way…We perpetuate these stereotypes…but we should all be on the same level, because we are.” Cathy wants HERAFest to normalize women in music, encourage women to pick up instruments and create a more equal playing field than what is felt in the industry today. Cathy said, “We need this to grow.”
Putting on a music festival takes a village; from planning, to booking a venue to hiring the lighting and sound engineers (mostly ladies of course), to the identification of like-minded sponsors and local women-own vendors, to running the promotion campaign and finally to engaging volunteers to pull the whole thing off. Cathy and the team realized, through the collaborative energy generated during festival planning, “that it was important to give back…and do good for the community.” 2019 marks the first year that HERAFest has leveraged its visibility to connect with local charities to give back to the community.
Cathy has big dreams for the future of the festival. Cathy’s instinct is to think big. What does that mean for HERAFest? Cathy said, “I want to take it to Merriweather”. She continued, “I think end-project first and then dial it back.” Cathy is also actively exploring bringing in national acts to create more visibility for the festival and generate more sponsorship and to potentially expand beyond the local level. Ultimately her goal is to “celebrate and bring attention to women in music.”
In addition to all of Cathy’s work with ProjectHERA, she is also a full time musician, gigging many nights of the week with one of her tribute bands covering hits from the 80s, 90s or 2000s. Cathy is a nostalgia addict and has created a niche with each of her projects. The Legwarmers is an 80s guilty pleasure cover band, complete with 80s costumes. Party Like It’s… is a Ska band that covers popular songs, mostly from the 90s. So Fetch is a 2000’s tribute band, wearing full-on vintage tracksuits while covering artists from Eminem to Ke$ha.
Cathy DiToro is not just about cover bands. Cathy’s original projects include her solo act, Cathy D and The Can’t Evens. Cathy will maintain there is no shame in a cover band. She loves to bring her audience back to a decade through the songs that were popular on the radio during that time. This is a source of pride for her. Nostalgia is something that allows people to let go of their day and have a great time. Cathy said, “We’re giving them that nostalgia. We’re giving them this fun energy. That’s not wasted on me.”