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All-female funk-rock outfit Isis reunited singer/guitarist Carol MacDonald and drummer Ginger Bianco, who previously collaborated in the '60s girl group Goldie & the Gingerbreads. Inspired by the success of distaff hard rock combo Fanny, MacDonald and Bianco formed Isis in 1972, recruiting lead guitarist Susan Ghezzi, bassist Stella Bass, saxophonist Jeanie Fineberg, trumpeter Lauren Draper, trombonist Lilly Bienenfield, and percussionist Nydia Mata. After building a cult following on the strength of their regular appearances at the New York City club Trude Heller's, Isis signed to the Buddah label to issue its self-titled 1974 debut. Complete with cover art featuring all eight members nude and covered in metallic chrome paint, the record was acclaimed in some quarters but dismissed as little more than a novelty in others. Fellow Gingerbreads alum Margo Lewis signed on to play keyboards on 1975's Allen Toussaint-produced Ain't No Backin' Up Now, which also marked the additions of lead guitarist Renate Ferrer (replacing Ghezzi), trumpeter Ellen Seeling (replacing Draper), and saxophonist Edith Dankowitz. On songs like "She Loves Me" and "Bobbie and Maria," MacDonald's lyrics now expressed an explicitly lesbian perspective -- sadly, her decision to publicly come out of the closet caused friction within Isis and with Buddah, and by the time the group signed to new label United Artists, only MacDonald and Lewis remained from the previous lineup. New members Faith Fusillo (lead guitar), Barbara Cobb (bass), Lynx (saxophone), and Vivian Stoll (drums) completed the roster for 1977's Breaking Through, which also featured assorted Isis alumni in guest roles. The group dissolved soon after, but in early 2001, MacDonald, Bianco, and Bienenfield assembled a new Isis lineup that debuted with a gig at New York's Bottom Line, its first appearance at the famed club in a quarter century. ~ Jason Ankeny

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1972 in New York, NY

Years Active:

'70s, '00s