Women have greatly impacted the music industry with their powerful vocals, moving messages and commanding stage presence. When reflecting on these skills, certain performers come to mind, such as the renowned queens of music: queen of soul Aretha Franklin, queen of country Dolly Parton, queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald and queen of rock Tina Turner.
Male artists often get the most recognition in the music industry, but female singers, songwriters, producers, sound engineers, managers, entertainers and award winners continue to increase each year.
When searching for the most memorable live performances of all time, only male names pop up, such as Queen’s performance at Live Aid or the Beatles performance at Shea Stadium. However, many female performances will forever remain memorable in music history, including Kesha’s 2018 Grammys show-stopping performance of “Praying,” which tells the story of her battle with her former producer and his mental and physical abuse against her.
Many female artists come from difficult backgrounds and relay their personal struggles in their music, hoping it will inspire other girls to tell their truth. In Kelly Clarkson’s songs “Piece by Piece” and “Because of You,” the artist sings of her difficult relationship with her father and of her parents’ divorce.
“She came from such a sad background and she’s turned herself into this amazing and beautiful singer who many people look up to,” said Scarlet Greding ‘20. “She never lets her past hold her back, which I really admire because that is something that many people struggle to do.”
Other iconic performances include Whitney Houston’s performance of “I Will Always Love You” at the 36th Grammy Awards, which made listeners stare in awe of her moving performance, Lady Gaga’s acting role and songwriting in A Star Is Born and Beyonce’s and Tina Turner’s entertaining starter for the 50th Grammy Awards.
Trying to combat the competitive nature of artists trying to make a name for themselves, many musicians look to each other for inspiration.
“Thank you for every woman who paved the way for me to be standing in this room doing what I love to do,” said singer Kehlani in her acceptance speech at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, according to Best Life.
Inspiring many young women around the world, professional artists in their teenage years do not see age as a barrier preventing them from achieving their goals. 18-year-old Billie Eilish recently became the youngest person to win Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
In contrast to boy bands singing mainly love songs directed towards teenage audiences, girl groups, such as the Andrews Sisters, the Supremes, Destiny’s Child, TLC, the Spice Girls and the Bangles, showed a united, strong front for women across the world.
Influential songwriters including Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Sara Bareilles and Taylor Swift, have paved the way for songwriting, inspiring songwriters around the world. These writers create lyrics tackling self-empowerment, romance, everyday struggles and relatable experiences.
Additionally, more female singers and songwriters are breaking out of that mold of only writing love songs, and are starting to write for themselves. Selena Gomez’s new 2020 album, Rare, consists of songs devoted to self-love and empowerment, including songs “Lose You To Love Me,” “Look At Her Now” and “Dance Again.” Artist Demi Lovato writes of her own struggles with alcohol in her songs “Sober” and “Anyone,” as well as self-love in her newest single “I Love Me.”
“But how crucial it is that the voices that are being heard for the first time is so great and I’m so grateful for all the older women who have lifted all of us up because I couldn’t be here without any of you,” said Selena Gomez in her acceptance speech at the 2017 Billboard Women in Music Awards, according to Best Life. “So thank you for all of you that have inspired so many girls who don’t feel like they have a voice.”
More female artists are becoming empowered to let their voices be heard and truly shine in the music industry when they stay true to themselves.