Influential women in the world of music:some iconic female musicians and singers
Women in this modern era have made great inroads into the music industry, carving their respective niches. They have experienced both positive and negative acclaim. Whatever the reaction to their performances may be, a common argument may be that without the presence of these women, the music world would not be the same. When we think of influential women in music, names like Madonna, Lady Gaga and jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald come to mind. These women of music have certainly altered the substance of the music industry in the ways unique to themselves.
How women have made an impact on the music industry
Many women have successfully grabbed the attention of audiences worldwide because of their fashion sense. Certainly, successful ladies in music have made us remember them because of classy elegance, Some have made themselves part of our musical memories because of their quirky attention-grabbing styles. So who are these ladies who have sometimes made jaws drop with the way they look?
Lady Gaga made musical waves with her breakout hit, Bad Romance from her extended play the Fame Monster in 2009. A mix of music from the ‘80s and ‘90s and boasting a spoken bridge, full-throated chorus and elements of techno, Bad Romance details the experience of being in love with one’s best friend.
Whether critics love her or hate her, this lady certainly steals the limelight with her quirky sense of fashion. Just last month, she stepped out in a giant pink and blue dress to the roar of cheering fans. Her appearance in a meat dress was another limelight stealer.
Emilie Autumn: Prologue, across the sky
She may not have as strong a presence as Lady Gaga, but Emilie, a singer, poet and violinist is certainly a lady who makes heads turn. Her unique blend of music, which she affectionately names Victoriandustrial, is an eclectic fusion of classical music and glamrock. She performs with her all female band The Bloody Crumpets. Emilie learned to read music before she could write. Releasing her first album, On a day: Music for Violin and Continuo through her independent label Traitor Records, she followed with her second album, Enchant in 2003. She has appeared in the backing band for singers Courtney Love and played the painted doll in Darren Lynn Bousman’s 2012 film, the Devil’s Carnival.
Emilie has not only caught attention with her music, she has done so with her unique sense of style. With her pillbox red hair and theatrical makeup, she personifies Glamrock cum Victorianesque on stage.
Jun Togawa, a Japanese musician and singer, started out early as an idol singer in the eighties. She has experimented with many musical genres while making sure that she remains true to herself and her art. She may not have had much commercial success, but remains a highly influential music figure as a solo artist and lead singer of the band Guernica. Her latest release, Togawa Fiction has elements of progressive rock and technopop.
Jun is best known for coming onstage in a fluorescent pink dress with insect wings. That certainly made her stand out in the crowd!
Musical Genre and style
The ladies above certainly made waves in terms of both music and fashion. There are even more ladies who have made their mark in various musical genres such as jazz, broadway musicals and pop. Some have become icons because of their far reaching and powerful vocals. Who are these ladies?
Born Madonna Louise Ciccone, no one can deny knowing who Madonna is. She has sold over 300 million albums world wide and is considered to be the best selling female recording artiste in history by the Guinness Book of World Records.
She moved to New York in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. She released her own self-titled album in 1983, and it spawned the hits Holiday, Like a Virgin and Burning Up. Later hits include Vogue, Into the Groove and Papa Don’t Preach.
She broke into film, receiving good reviews for her performances in Desperately Seeking Susan and Evita. She won a Golden Globe Award for that performance, though other performances stemmed harsher criticism. The versatile lady has ventures in writing children’s books, directing and fashion design.
Indeed, Madonna is known for her fashion sense and being able to keep a youthful appearance. Her music will Live To Tell of her talent and charisma for a long time to come.
Dream a little dream of me
No list of influential female singers and musicians would be quite complete without the mention of Ella Fitzgerald. Known as the Queen of Jazz or Lady Ella, she had a vocal range spanning 3 octaves. A notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook, she was known widely for her impeccable diction, pure tone, wonderful improvisational skills and “scat singing” or vocalized wordless singing.
Ella’s 1945 scat improvisation of Flying Home was one of the most influential Jazz records of the decade. No one before her had employed improvisation with such creativity. Her Bebop recording of Oh Lady Be Good was similarly popular and increased her repulation as a jazz vocalist.
Ella was known for her recordings of eight multi album songbook sets. Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook was released in 1956. The singers and lyricists spotlighted represent the greatest part of the Great American Songbook of which Ella herself was an interpreter. The Ella Fitzgerald sings the Duke Ellington Songbook was the first in which the composer she interpreted accompanied her as she sang.he New York Times wrote in 1996, "These albums were among the first pop records to devote such serious attention to individual songwriters, and they were instrumental in establishing the pop album as a vehicle for serious musical exploration."
When she died, New York TImes Columnist Frank Rich wrote that she performed a “cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis's contemporaneous integration of white and African-American soul”. Her singing has certainly made an unforgettable impact on today’s modern jazz.
Celine Dion, a Canadian singing icon, came to fame as a teen star in Canada’s French speaking world. Her then manager and future husband Rene Angeli mortgaged her home to finance her first singing record. Her first album, Unison, established her as a pop icon in North America and other parts of the world. She first gained recognition by winning the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in the 1980s and the Eurovision song contest where she represented Switzerland.
She is clearly one of pop music’s influential voices. In a countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music by Blender Magazine and MTV, she was placed ninth and came in fourth in Cove Magazines list of 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists. Possessing a 5 Octave vocal range, Dion is a mezzo soprano. She is known for delivering glass like, slightly nasal vibrato free notes. She has stated her influences as Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Carole King and Barbara Streisand, all of whom she would collaborate with.
Her sentimental (some say overly so) hits like Power of Love and The Prayer are have become iconic love songs at weddings and are what she is musically known for. Now performing in Las Vegas, she is working on current albums.
This versatile lady has certainly become one of the most influential musical icons in the world today, not least because she is an accomplished vocalist and pianist whose genre stretches from gospel and jazz to R&B, pop, rock and funk.
She is known as one of the iconic singers who popularized the soul genre. Her whopping hits in that area include Think, Chain of Fools and her ever popular signature song, Respect.
Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her as one of its 100 greatest singers of all time. She has won 20 grammy awards to date and has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. She became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
I Finally Found Someone
The singer, writer, actress, film producer and director has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammys, five Emmy Awards and an award from the American Film Institute, making her one of the most prolific entertainers of all time. She has sold more than 140 million albums worldwide and has had 71.5 million shipped in the United States alone. She holds the record for having the most Top Ten Albums in History,
As a singer, she has recorded a range of albums with popular hits such as The Way We Were, Woman In Love (a collaboration with the Bee Gees) and I Finally Found Someone (a collaboration with Brian Adams). She returned to her broadway roots in 1985 by releasing the Broadway Album, with songs from Rogers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Stephen Sondheim. It met with acclaim and won a Grammy Nomination for Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year for Streisand. She is known to be pitch perfect on stage, being able to sing a note accurately when it is named.
A consummate actress, her first film in 1968 was a reprise of her broadway hit, Funny Girl in 1968. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film. She released two further musicals, Hello Dolly and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. She also starred in several screwball comedies like What’s Up Doc and the Main Event. She won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the number, Evergreen. She won an Academy nomination for Best Actress for one of her more famous roles in The Way We Were, starring alongside Robert Redford.
The prolific star has definitely made her mark in entertainment history.
Female artists have not only had acclaim for their music, some have earned accolades for the social and philanthropic work they do.
An acclaimed folk singer, Joan is a known activist in the field of human rights, peace and environmental justice. She began her career performing in coffee houses and rose to fame performing in the Newport Folk Festival. Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez Vol 2 and Joan Baez in Concert all achieved Gold Record Status. She had popular hits like Diamonds in Rust, Farewell Angelina and Love is Just a Four Letter Word. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has recorded songs in six official languages.
She played a vital role in founding the USA’s section of Amnesty International in the 1970s, and has championed various human rights causes, including opposing the death penalty.
Speaking up for various environmental causes, she has spoken up against poverty, joining other activists like Julia “Butterfly” Hill in a tree sit to protest the eviction of farmers in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood. On March 18, 2011, she was honored with the Joan Baez Award by Amnesty International for Outstanding Inspirational Service in the Global Fight for Human Rights.
Some of these women in music have found a place in our memories because of a quirky sense of fashion and style. Many of them have made musical breakthroughs and carved their own niches in the music industry. Yet others have made their mark by simply being themselves. In many ways, they have certainly made a powerful difference.
Other Articles on Music by Michelle Liew
- The psyche of teenage girls and their fascination with boy bands - a chronology of boy bands through
We were all swept away by boy bands at one time or another - this article explains why and gives a chronology of the most popular boy bands of this day.
- Body percussion:the art of utilizing the human body to create sounds and rhythms
Body percussion is the art of using the human body to create sound and rhythm. There are different forms of body percussion and it is not only creative, but useful. Get to know famous body percussionists.
- The Essentials of Great A Capella Music: Ten great vocal groups in the music industry
A Capella is an expressive musical form that makes use of the most natural musical instrument of all- the human voice. Here are 10 of the best A Capella groups around.
- A look at Joan Osborne's What if God Was One of us
Perspectives on One of Us by Joan Osborne