International Women’s Day: Musical Heroines

We celebrate International Women's Day with five women who have to show that women do it best.

March 8th, otherwise known as International Women’s Day is a day we hail female bosses everywhere– it’s a day of empowerment, reflection, and womanhood. Starting in the early 1900s, the Suffragettes, a tenacious group of women who fought against female inequality, pioneered purposeful action for equality. Their actions to combat female suffrage saw the creation of International Women’s Day in 1911. One hundred and eight years later their influence continues to leave footprints in the sands of inequality and patriarchy.

While a lot is being done to push equality and diversity in workplaces, inequality still remains a deep-rooted crux, especially in the music industry. In a report conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (2017), the leading global think tank studying issues of inclusion across entertainment mediums, it was found that only 16.8% of artists were women and out of the study’s 651 producers, only 2% were female.

Despite those shocking figures, there are incredible women in the music industry that have opened doors, and risen above a male-dominated business… Here are five women we deem as game-changers.

Madonna

Hailed as the “Queen of Pop”, Madonna has established herself as an unrivalled icon. Madonna’s rise to stardom can only be described as a rollercoaster ride – her constant reinvention of sound and style makes her unique. From sassy hits like, “Like a Virgin”, which catapulted her career to “Erotica”, a bass-heavy song that consists of lascivious dancing and erotic allusions, her shrug at societal expectations has seen her produce hit after hit.

Besides singing and climbing Billboard charts, Madonna is an advocate for women’s rights; her powerful speech at the Women’s March in 2017, saw her say a big ‘fuck you’ to Donald Trump and Republican misogyny.

Ariana Grande

There’s more to Ariana Grande than her vocal ability and signature looks – a sleek ponytail, paired with an oversized jumper and thigh-high boots (if you didn’t know), she is an ethereal picture of resilience. Following a terror attack that took place at her concert in Manchester, Grande fearlessly pulled together one of the most impactful concerts of 2017. Flying back to Manchester with a hoard of guest performers, Ariana paid tribute to those who lost their life’s.

On a roll, Grande was recently declared the first female artist to hold the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart since The Beatles in 1964.

The singer who is also social media savvy uses her platform to promote positivity, love, unity and mental health awareness. If that wasn’t enough, Grande’s influence can be seen everywhere – “thank you, next”. What’s more to be said.

Diana Ross & The Supremes

Acclaimed as Billboard’s “Female Entertainer of the Century”, Diana Ross was named the most successful female artist in history and it’s no surprise – she’s had over 70 hit singles, both as a solo artist and alongside female powerhouse, The Supremes. Ross’ multi-media accomplishments span across music, film, and television. Her influence is legendary, so much so she’s even been characterised in one of the most successful stage musicals, Motown The Musical.

The Supremes are still recognised as the most-adored Motown Group. With twelve number one pop singles, sold out concerts, and regular television appearances, The Supremes established themselves as the IT girls of the sixties. With hit songs like “Baby Love”, led by Ross’ dulcet coo and “Where Did Our Love Go”, The Supremes are recognised globally for their effervescent tunes.

Their influence is just as global as their success, without them, girl groups like Destiny’s Child, TLC, and The Pointer Sisters would not exist.

Wondagurl

Just like her name indicates, Wondagurl is a beat-making superhero. At the age of fifteen, she was titled champion producer in a local Battle of the Beat Makers. The following summer, she was labelled as a producer to look out for after co-producing Jay Z’s “Crown”, an infectious, pummelling beat that you can’t help rocking your head to. Since then, Wondagurl, now 22, has worked with artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Big Sean, Travis Scott, Drake and more. Her spiralling success at such a young age is inspiring for upcoming and often underrepresented female producers. In an interview with Fader she addressed her positive influence – “I’ve seen a lot of people post pictures of their daughters, saying “You inspired this girl to make beats.” That makes me feel really nice.” 

Patti Smith

Known as ‘The Godmother of Punk’, Patti Smith was influential in establishing the New York punk genre scene and is widely acknowledged as the woman responsible for writing the first true punk song; “Piss Factory”. The punk poet is an unstoppable force, her literate yet savvy lyrics confronted topics from religion to the Beat movement. At a time where female punk artists were far and few between, Smith’s revolutionary debut album, Horses (1975) created a space for females to ‘rock and roll’. She showed there are no limits to being a punk artist,  you just have to have passion.

Solange

Solange Knowles. Singer. Advocate. Creative.

After the release of seminal album, ‘A Seat At The Table’, Solange was praised for songs that explored black identity and life as an African American. Through her music, Solange creates a space for black people – women especially. Her recent body of work, short film, and album ‘When I Get Home’  features black women of all shapes and sizes in candid shots. Solange’s invitation to the table she calls the music industry provides black women with opportunities to be themselves. Described as the ‘patron saint for black women’, Solange often takes to Twitter, to discuss how she challenges and reacts to racism. A striking story involved a lime and slurs being thrown at her during the Kraftwerk concert in 2016. Instead of exploding, Knowles began dancing, hair swinging from left to right – a picture of uncaring beauty.

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