This week the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the amazing women who were (and are!) trail blazers in a world where being a woman isn’t always so easy. The music industry is typically a boy’s club, and it’s obvious when you look at a festival line up or go to a networking event. Because of this, organizations like Women in Music are important, and remind women in the industry they’re not the only ones who know the struggle of working in male-dominated offices, or working with almost exclusively male artists. This same sentiment is why Miranda and I started Euterpe, there just wasn’t enough of us.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I’ve made a list of some of my favorite ladies in music. Some of these artists go way back and were a huge part of my childhood, and others keep me hopeful about a place for women in the modern world.
- Celia Cruz
Chances are if you’re Hispanic, you know her name. As a Cuban growing up in Miami, Celia Cruz was a pivotal piece of family gatherings, and even embracing my culture. She fled Cuba during the Revolution and at the beginning of her career, she struggled because of her skin color and gender. She rose above these limitations and became the Queen of Salsa. Cruz continues to inspire me in a world where color and gender operate as barriers to a woman’s success.
2. Hayley Williams
I was obsessed with Paramore since their debut All We Know Is Falling, and as a teenager it was inspiring seeing a female frontwoman head an incredibly successful band especially in the midst of a music scene that was so dominated by men. Hayley Williams made emo/alternative/whatever-you’d-like-to-consider-it a sphere for girls and women too. Also, she is hands down one of the nicest people I have ever met. Thanks for the constant inspo, Hayley.
Lorde’s impressive debut made me wish my teenage self were that talented. At 17, she released the incredible Pure Heroine, and she just launched two new singles for her upcoming sophomore release. Lorde has been vocal when tabloids criticized her for her appearance and being open about not always wearing makeup. An 18 year old defying standards for women’s appearances, and in an eloquent, brave way? I couldn’t admire her more.
4. Lady Gaga
Gaga is a guilty pleasure of sorts. She is talented and can actually sing (and actually sings live – it’s refreshing) but what really counts is that she uses her platform to be vocal about real issues. She has spoken up about sexual assault, abusive relationships, and encouraging love and acceptance for all races and sexual orientations. From Born This Way to Joanne, Gaga has transformed what it means to be a female pop star and blurs the lines of genres in an effortless way.
5. Stevie Nicks
I grew up idolizing Stevie and her legacy both solo and her time in Fleetwood Mac. Stevie totally brings out the aspiring rockstar in me, despite the fact that I can’t sing or play any instrument well. She’s older than my parents, yet when she performs live she is easily the priestess of the whole show, enchanting each member of the audience. Stevie Nicks is what I aspire to be, and I aspire to inspire women the way she has inspired me.
6. Regina Spektor
There is no other woman with a softer, more beautiful voice than Regina Spektor. Plus, she’s pretty great at making music. Regina’s music, especially “Fidelity,” was the soundtrack to my not-so-wonderful middle school years and it’s been a privilege to see her grow as an artist as I myself have grown. She carries herself with grace, has a serious knack for the piano, and her voice is a thrilling lullaby.
Being a woman in the electronic alternative scene is tough, because chances are you’ll be one of the only ones. If you look at recent festival lineups, its hard to come by a band with a woman. Grimes, along with bands like HAIM, have bravely stood at the forefront being some of the only women on festival lineups. Also, Art Angels is a damn good album.
When I was a Sony rep, I fell in love with this band of three sisters. HAIM stole my heart with “The Wire” and completely won me over with their debut album. It was such an honor to be one of the first to hear them, and then provide marketing for an album I love so so so much. HAIM reminds me of the importance of solidarity among women and how if we work together, we can bring each other up.
9. FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs started out as a backup dancer, and later focused on her own music. She’s released successful singles, albums, and EPs. She’s kind of the best, if I’m being honest. It’s impossible to not listen to “Two Weeks” 50 times in a row on repeat.