A female pianist who claims her music was being ignored because she is a woman has achieved success after promoting it under the name Arthur, instead of Annabel.
Annabel Bennett says she has struggled to have any of the 350 original pieces she’s created since 2012 aired, and says she was constantly rejected or even ignored by broadcasters.
Believing her gender was holding her back, she started submitting her work under an alias – Arthur Parker – and says she noticed an immediate change.
Since the change, the 50-year-old from Padstow has had more than 40 original pieces aired on local and national radio – all under the name of Arthur Parker.
The BBC denied only playing Ms Bennett’s music after she changed her name, but she said: ‘When I sent out my music under my own name as a woman, it got nowhere. But as soon as I sent it out as a man I got noticed.
Annabel Bennett, 50, says her music has only been noticed after she sent it out under a male pseudonym
‘I spent several months submitting my work to the BBC under my own name with no success. It was the same with all the other institutions and organisations.
‘In general they just did not come back.
‘I sent the same stuff in as Arthur and the BBC are now playing it all the time. I think they envisioned an older man and took it from there. The emotive music was probably more appealing to them when people thought it was being played by a man.
‘But it shouldn’t be that way. We should be judged on our music, not on our gender.’
Music under Parker’s name is still on the Radio 3 playlist and a first album under his name that was recorded at Abbey Road studios is being released later this month.
The Cornish musician says she spent months sending her work to the BBC – but it only started picking it up when she shared it under the name of Arthur Parker, a name she took from her father
The musician said she pretended to be Parker by avoiding phone calls and submitting all work by email, while also dodging questions over why there were no social media profile or evidence of her male alter-ego online.
BBC Introducing played her work under the name Arthur Parker for around six weeks until she ‘came out’ to presenter Sarah Gosling in a female toilet, Ms Bennet says.
She added: ‘People just thought they were listening to Arthur Parker on the radio.
‘On Radio 3 they also have six pieces of mine on the playlist and still think I am a man.
‘To be fair, on an individual level Sarah Gosling has been very fair and supportive. She did say that personally she would have played my music whether I was a man or a woman. But it was just more in general – that my emails were ignored until I pretended to be a man.
‘It just seems strange that you have to do that in this day and age.
‘Sarah got right behind me and was very surprised when I finally met her in the ladies cubicles at a gig, introducing myself as Arthur Parker.
‘I may now be the most played on BBC introducing in the country as I have had about 35 pieces played and have done a live session at Radio Devon.
‘I have also got on the playlist on Classic FM Holland.’
Annabel began writing music after her father died around 2012 and was signed to a TV production company but said most jobs were ‘given to the men’.
She added: ‘They promised me the world but nothing happened once I signed.
‘One day I decided to try again myself. That’s how Arthur Parker was eventually born.
‘My dad’s name was Tom Arthur Parker so it came from that. The BBC were looking for Arthur Parker on Facebook trying to find out who he was.
Annabel began writing music after her father died around 2012 and was signed to a TV production company but said most jobs were ‘given to the men’
‘They could not find any Facebook page, but I did not have to pretend to be him on the phone or anything. All communication was via email.
‘But I just think it should not be about how old you are as anyone over 50 and a woman becomes invisible. It should not be about image but about the music and I just hope more female composers can be inspired and confident to come forward. There are some good ones out there.
‘It is like the JK Rowling situation. My hope is this that female composers will start to be taken more seriously. It is getting better in a lot of walks of life, but with this it is definitely still a man’s world.’
A BBC spokesman told MailOnline: ‘This is entirely untrue. We played a number of her pieces on our local stations while the artist was using her original name and reject any suggestion we select music for any reason other than merit.’
They said Ms Bennett’s first song was played under her own name on February 10, 2018, and another five went out under her name between May 2018 and February 2019.
Arthur Parker’s first song was uploaded on June 18, 2019, according to the broadcaster.
Ms Bennett, who owns The Ivy House in Padstow, had a unique upbringing and grew up in a house where David Bowie babysat her and her sister, where blues legend John Lee Hooker slept on the floor and where Gerry Rafferty wrote half of the classic song, Baker Street.
This was because her dad was arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Parker.
She added: ‘Dad died about eight years ago, and I’d always played the piano when I was young.
BBC Introducing played her work under the name Arthur Parker for around six weeks until she ‘came out’ to presenter Sarah Gosling in a female toilet, Ms Bennet says
‘He was an arranger, and when he died I started playing my own stuff to deal with my emotions.
‘It just started coming out, and I carried on and now I’ve probably written about 350 pieces.
‘He did warn me about the industry though -and how hard it was for a woman to break through.’
The musician has now recorded an album at Abbey Road, which will be released on Spotify and iTunes at the end of the month under her pseudonym Arthur Parker, titled Dying Earth.
She added: ‘I just think it will sell more if people think it has been done by a man. It’s not how things should be and I hope that speaking out about it might go a small way to help change things.’