On Nov. 24, Fielding Graduate University announced it will present its 2020 Creative Longevity and Wisdom Outstanding Scholar Practitioner Award to Ace of Cups, one of the first all-female rock bands.
The award is given annually to people who have made a significant contribution to supporting creativity and positive aging.
Past award recipients included Ram Dass, Mirabai Bush, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mary Catherine Bateson and George Vaillant.
Ace of Cups were at the epicenter of the 1960s cultural and social revolution and then reunited in their 60s in the past decade, producing two albums and leading advocacy efforts in support of positive aging.
Band members include Denise Kaufman, Diane Vitalich, Mary Alfiler, Mary Ellen Simpson and Dallis Craft.
“We are honored and we’re grateful, and for such a wonderful and esteemed institution like Fielding is,” Ms. Kaufman told the News-Press. “It’s a respected community of people who are both committed to education and exploration, so in that sense, I think that… there’s something about us that is like Fielding in that way.”
One of the band’s songs, “Put a Woman in Charge,” was produced to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and the band has been featured on many leading media sources, such as “CBS This Morning,” “NPR” and more.
“We started something that we’d never seen before,” Ms. Kaufman said. “We broke some molds and shattered some stereotypes, and we still do.
“In our culture, women are sort of encouraged or made to go off and retire and crawl into a hole at a certain age, especially in a lot of public endeavors,” the band member added. “We were shattering the stereotype of sexism and now we’re hitting sexism and ageism.”
While the band participated in the mid-1960s Acid Tests, performed alongside the Grateful Dead and opened for Jimi Hendrix in the San Francisco psychedelic scene, Ms. Kaufman said they’re lucky to have remained healthy enough to continue performing and making new records in their sixties.
“Most of the bands we played for in the old days hardly have their whole bands still alive, so the fact that we stayed away from some of the things that took out some of our contemporaries early on… We didn’t get into heavy drugs or any to that,” she said. “We have just taken care of ourselves the best we can.”
Their goal now, according to Ms. Kaufman, is to remind people to “pick up that thing they thought they maybe had to put down or didn’t think they had a chance to do.”
“We’ve had a chance to inspire people that it’s never too late to get in gear and pick up whatever that thing is they want to do,” she said.
The five band members will receive the award from Fielding Graduate University virtually at 4 p.m. Thursday.