Women have always been a fundamental part of music. For centuries female artists and musicians have been sharing their stories, beliefs and fighting for equality; all whilst revolutionising genres, breaking records, influencing and lifting up others and so much more.
On this International Women's Day, we thought what better way to celebrate women's achievements in music than with a celebration of some of the world's most successful, wave-making, outspoken and revolutionary female artists. Choosing ten of our personal favourite artists (as we couldn't possibly write about everybody!), in no particular order here are See Ticket's accolade to iconic and rising star female artists.
Since 17 as part of legendary R&B outfit Destiny’s Child, Beyonce has been an international superstar, philanthropist and icon. Her tenure within the music industry has repeatedly pushed boundaries, and challenged the typical constructs of pop music. It’s undeniable that she has time and again proven herself to be an innovator and leader in her field. Aside from music, Beyonce has consistently been a key and crucial voice for women and the black community. In 2016, she lit up the stage on her Mrs Carter World Tour with the word 'FEMINIST', solidifying her stance in the world as what she considers to be the 'modern day feminist'.
It's no debate that Taylor Swift has established herself as a musical and influential powerhouse since her 2006, self-titled debut album. Since then she's only continued to reach new heights with each year and new album gone by - her 27 Guinness World Records marking her as one of the most successful artists of all time. Mastering pop, folk, country and alt-rock, Swift has shown her talent for versatility with each album she creates; this is made complete with her signature, empowering vulnerability present at their core. Not only does her music spark influence but her philanthropy and charity too. Taylor supports many charities worldwide, advocates for greater LGBTQ+ rights, as well as gender and racial equality in the US. T-Swift is surely an inspiration to many women worldwide.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was not only one of the most widely celebrated singers of a generation, but also fervent civil rights activist. Aretha is known for her vocal flexibility and unrivalled skill on the piano. Her soulful sound brought a gospel-like intensity and power to popular music in a way that no other had at the time. Winner of 18 Grammy Awards, Aretha Franklin remains one of the best-selling artists and women of all time. She is undoubtedly a true female icon. Frequently, Aretha Franklin would use her status to provide money for civil rights groups. She would perform at benefits and protests for a number of civil rights and women's rights movements.
It's no secret the level of success and innovation Dolly Parton has achieved throughout her acting and musical career. But, not discussed nearly enough is her incredible dedication to charity and changing lives. Since the mid-1980's, the country singer-songwriter has helped millions of people across the US through The Dollywood Foundation; whether that's through money for those in needs, free books every month for children less fortunate, or scholarship help. Not only this, more recently, Dolly donated $1 million towards research at Vanderbilt University to help COVID-19 vaccination developments; she still continues to encourage the population to get their vaccine today. This just scratches the surface of the star's constant and consistent efforts to help support people in need across the globe. As fellow women, we salute her.
Known as the 'Princess of Pop' for good reason, Britney has released a whopping nine studio albums since her debut in 1999, has sold over 100 million records worldwide, held a triumphant residency in Las Vegas, and is one of the world's best-selling music artists of all time. Glamour Magazine described her as "one of pop music's defining voices. When she emerged onto the scene in 1998 with '...Baby One More Time', the world hadn't seen a performer like her. Not since Madonna had a female artist affected the genre so profoundly". Britney has become an unlikely feminist icon, who was not afraid to showcase her femininity and sexuality while fiercely defending her own privacy. She has also become a worldwide LGBTQ+ icon.
Currently awaiting the result of four 2021 Grammy Award nominations, Phoebe Bridgers has been the singer-songwriter on everybody's lips for the last few years. Known for her refreshingly bleak, poetic music and hilarious Tweets, one of Bridgers' most admirable qualities is that she speaks her truth and stands by those convictions. These naturally bleed into her music, confessing herself that latest and critically-acclaimed album 'Punisher''s main themes are "crying" and "numbness" (The Rolling Stone); she is unafraid to speak out in regards to her own struggles with mental health. Most importantly, she converts those truths into action too - whether that's helping raise money for charities such as Planned Parenthood or smashing a guitar on stage; to show that women in rock can do whatever men can too.
Billie Eilish is about as unconventional as popstars get and, at only nineteen years old, she’s the youngest person to win the four main Grammy Award categories. Plus she has a whole host of other accolades to her name. Her debut album, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ reached number one and was one of the best selling albums of 2019. Since then she's released further hits including the Bond theme song with 'No Time To Die', making her the youngest artist to have written and recorded for the film franchise. Billie has been praised widely for her approach to style, privacy and her own expression of femininity. Billie chooses to wear baggy clothing, in order to avoid media criticism on her body. She publicly criticised those who body shame women in a powerful video that she played on her live tours.
It won't be long before Lizzo is joining the likes of our favourite Iconic female musicians as one of the most inspirational of all time. In her relatively short career, Lizzo has seen acclaim across the industry for her artistry and musicianship. She's also been praised for her public demeanour in promoting a message of self-love, fat-acceptance, mental health, veganism and equality for all. With a total of 89 award nominations in her career so far - including 14 wins - Lizzo is an R&B and hip-hop trailblazer, often incorporating her talent as a flautist into her performances. Aside from her obvious career accolades, in 2019 Lizzo was named one of Queerty magazine's 50 most trailblazing individuals for spreading her message of acceptance across the world within both her music and her personal life. A true queen, and soon-to-be icon for all women.
Christine and the Queens
French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier, known also as Christine and the Queens or simply Chris, has become one of the most consistent and exciting acts to come out of the last ten years. With each release, Chris has taken her electro-pop sound and continued to develop and push boundaries. She has created a sound that exists almost in its own unique genre. Her music is inspired heavily by a number of pop and rock icons throughout the years. Chris also takes inspiration from London's drag scene, and is an active and vocal part of the LGBTQ+ community. She has become an integral part of modern pop culture. Through her two studio albums and countless EPs, Chris has created a space of inclusivity and individuality that is both celebrated and embraced. So much so, that in 2017, she topped the list of Time's 10 leaders of the next generation, and in the same year was ranked as one of Forbes' most influential and talented people under 30.
English singer-songwriter and dancer FKA Twigs has quickly made her mark on the music industry, her records consistently making the top album lists from prestigious music publications. FKA Twigs draws on a multitude of genres when creating her music, including electronic, trip-hop, R&B and avant-garde, and has hit out at critics for classing it as R&B, simply due to her race. Recently FKA Twigs has used her platform to amplify the voices of sex workers, having taken influence in her performance style from pole-dancing, and has also spoken publicly about her experiences of domestic violence, in a bid to help other victims and find their voice and seek help.
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Aretha Franklin Image Credit: Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons