Women Of The Guitar, Some Of The Best Female Guitarist On The Planet
There's no way around it, playing the guitar has always been an overly male dominated field. There is absolutely no reason that this must always be so, as the women listed here and millions of others not listed prove that women can play the guitar quite well. I don't know exactly why it is that guitar playing has always highlighted and glamorized testosterone via the mainstream media, but I think we can all agree here that this is the case: Women are often overlooked in favour of men.
Yes, all the women I'll discuss here are what I think of as attractive women. No, I didn't pick these for that reason. Male guitarist have typically been more successful should they be deemed attractive too, there's nothing much that you or I can do about the paradigms of human biology, but music is almost entirely a cerebral sport, so the sex and attractiveness of the musician should never ever be an issue to begin with in music appreciation.
So far as this page and it's contents are concerned, I'd like to say that it's going to be incomplete, as my purpose here was merely to draw some attention to some of the great female guitarist. While I'd prefer to also include here a music video from Youtube for each artist, I know for a fact that were I to do so, then the page would load too slowly for some users to be able to view it, and I want the page seen by anyone interested in learning some names and information about the great female guitarist that I intend to discuss, and regardless of what their computer and internet service make possible.
What I hope to provide here for my reader is a comprehensive trans genre list of female musicians that chose the guitar with which to make a musical canvas for their art form of choice. Please feel free to give comments and links within the comments for additional information concerning female guitarist, I might well choose to include your feedback in my article, and would also be glad to provide at least one link to another domain concerning this topic should it fit cosmetically, and be appropriate.
Also, I'm not attempting to "rank" any of these women so far as my perception of their level of skill or relevance, Ladies listed closer to the top here might not fit your concept of what is "best," but please do not feel that anyone is being praised or slighted in favour of someone else.
Memphis Minnie - The Queen Of The Delta Blues
Born Lizzie Douglas in june of 1897, Memphis Minnie was the only female to ever be considered the equal of the male bluesmen that were her contemporaries. Not only were her vocals considered the equal of the greats, but her guitar playing and song writing too.
Kid Lizzie, as she was also sometimes known, learned to play guitar and banjo at home as a child, and then she ran away from home as an early teenage girl, made her way to Memphis, Tennessee, and started performing in night clubs. She spent forty years as a recording artist, and created her own damned style of the blues by fusing her Louisiana home's country blues to Memphis blues. Supposedly Minnie was married three times, and each time to another bluesman guitarist, but this isn't verifiable, but what is is that she was one of the first to embrace the electric guitar, and that during her lifetime, one of her songs was made famous the world over by Led Zeppelin.
Memphis Minnie died of a stroke in a nursing home in 1973. Bonnie Raitt paid for her headstone, and it's inscribed as follows:
"The hundreds of sides Minnie recorded are the perfect material to teach us about the blues. For the blues are at once general, and particular, speaking for millions, but in a highly singular, individual voice. Listening to Minnie's songs we hear her fantasies, her dreams, her desires, but we will hear them as if they were our own."
Memphis Minnie - "When The Levee Breaks"
Bonnie Lynn Raitt
Nine times so far Bonnie Raitt has won Grammy Awards for her country, folk, and blues infused music, and there's going to be more awards for this female guitarist whether she records again, or not. Bonnie comes from a very musical family, and began performing for her family at a young age. In 1967 she enrolled in Harvard's Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at a radio interview with blues promoter Dick Waterman, her life changed forever, and she became the first successful Anglo woman of the blues.
By the time the decade of the 1970s rolled around, Bonnie Raitt was performing in clubs around New York, and she was being stalked by scouts from record companies that wanted to sign her to their record label. She signed with Warner Bros, and in 1971 released her first record titled Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie's interpretation of traditional blues and skill with playing bottleneck slide guitar received loads of critical acclaim and admiration, as there were precious few women at the time who were known for their guitar playing. Throughout the decade Bonnie Raitt would record highly acclaimed music that never much made her money, America wasn't into it so much, and she eventually dipped into a drug and alcohol problem for a while.
Bonnie Raitt credits the late Stevie Ray Vaughan with helping her to bust free of addiction, and twenty years after she started recording professionally, she was finally a hit with audiences everywhere, and we're all still forever waiting on her next album now.
"I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavyset black man with a big thumb, like Wes Montgomery." Emily Remler, in her own words.
The life of Emily Remler, who was probably the single greatest female jazz guitarist to ever live, ended far too soon due to her heroin addiction. While every artist must have a muse, there's been quite the lot of gifts and loses that have come and gone from the world of art via drugs, and especially opiate drugs, the worst drugs on the planet. Born in New York City in 1957, Emily started playing the guitar just ten years later, and played constantly until she died. Extremely educated in the forms and styles of complex jazz, she gained the admiration of virtually everyone within the genre,
"When the rhythm section is floating, I'll float too, and I'll get a wonderful feeling in my stomach. If the rhythm section is really swinging, it's such a great feeling, you just want to laugh "—Emily Remler
Once when asked how she'd liked to be remembered, Emily had the following to say:
"Good compositions, memorable guitar playing and my contributions as a woman in music…. but the music is everything, and it has nothing to do with politics or the women’s liberation movement."
Emily Remler - "How Insensitive"
Jennifer Batten has been around a while, and though you've maybe not seen her so much, you've probably heard her work as a sessions guitarist. If you don't know, a sessions guitarist is the person that gets hired to do some work in a recording studio, and typically because whoever the band's guitarist is, isn't up to snuff, and so they call in Jennifer to make the "song perfect."
Jennifer Batten also has three solo records, and has recorded with jazz and rock fusion luminaries such as Jeff Beck, and Carmine Appice. You might have seen Jennifer and not known it whist she'd performed with the late Michael Jackson, who clearly had the money to afford the best available guitarist for his shows!
Jennifer Batten and a Les Paul Tribute
I've known of Sharon Isbin for many years due to former subscriptions to Acoustic Guitar Magazine, where she'd always been visible in various full page adverts, and interviews and instructional segments. Sharon has played with the best of the best in classical musical circles, and has performed with over one hundred and sixty orchestras. Sharon Isbin has received quite a lot of accolades over the years, and won many a contest never before her won by a female guitarist.
Most often known as just Orianthi, Miss O. Panagaris is a guitarist of Greek and Australian decent that is likely to be seen and heard more and more as the years go by, but make no mistake, she's already made her name well known both far and wide. She's played with people like Carlos Santana, Prince, Michael Jackson,Eric Clapton, Steve Vai, and recorded her own solo albums in which she does all the vocals, guitar, and most of the drums too.
The rather attractive Orianthi started her professional career at the very young age of fourteen years opening for electric guitar wizard Steve Vai, and since then, she's recorded and performed with acts as diverse as Carrie Underwood to Alice Cooper.
Aurora "Rory" Block
Rory Block is a country blues guitarist and vocalist that started her career very young, retired to raise a family, and then restarted her career, and even tours with her son on drums. Rory Block has studied with the blues giants that were still living when she was younger and recorded songs written by many of them on albums mixed with her own compositions, she's won numerous awards, and still occasionally tours and records.
Her autobiography is available on Amazon.com in pdf format. And there are enough Youtube videos available to keep you in the blues zone for months. She's got her cult following, but should have been given a lot more exposure by mainstream radio and mass media.
Having taken guitar lessons at a young age from none other than the great classical guitar master Andrés Segovia, Liona Boyd is a female classical guitar master, but being a consummate musician, she never stopped, and went on to study with the French classical guitar master Alexandre Lagoya too. Known as "The First Lady Of The Guitar," Liona Boyd has lived up to that name.
"Through your beauty and talent you will conquer the public, philharmonic or not." - Andres Segovia.
Despite Liona's classical training and style, she's toured the entire globe opening for fellow Canadian Country Folk guitarist and singer/songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, and recorded with persons like blues rockers Eric Clapton and David Gilmore. According to Wikipedia, Liona Boyd is in the studio now working on vocals for a new album.
Young Lita Ford
Nancy Wilson of "Heart"
Charro, One Of The World's Most Skilled Flamenco Guitarist
There is absolutely no reason why any woman can't take up and learn the guitar, and then play it every bit as well, or better, than any man. There's nothing in the male mind or physical form that predispositions him to being a superior musician, and if there were, then such superiority wouldn't be found in the realm of guitar playing.
Women can play the guitar every bit as well as can any given man, but guitar playing is simply a difficult thing to do on the level of any of the female musicians listed here, so if men are more famous for playing the guitar, then I humbly submit to you that there are simply more men taking up the instrument and dedicating their time to mastering it. I will also submit that it is possible that women are sometimes over shadowed by men in the mass media and public opinion that is largely derived from it. I think the women listed in this article prove, however, that they are as technically skilled and dedicated to their musical art as many a more famous living or dead male guitarist.
Lita Ford is a woman that most men my age and demographic would know about - she was a major rock and roller during the hair band 80's, and recorded with the infamous and ubiquitous Ozzy Osbourne, and Ozzy has always had exclusive privilege to pick nothing but the best musicians to perform with him.
Ani DiFranco is another Lady that I've come to know of from publications such as Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and it's because she is just damned good at the more difficult endeavour of playing the acoustic guitar; and she does so in a very unique and innovative folk rock style.
Nancy Wilson is another highly notable name, she only fronted the band Heart all through the 70's and 80's with her sister Nancy - bringing women into the heavy blues metal crunch introduced to the world by bands such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.
Susan Tedeschi is an amazing blues rocking guitarist and vocalist; and besides all of that, she's just extremely attractive in my book, and in the Southern Woman style that I've grown up around.
Sheryl Crow is another, and by God, isn't SHE PRETTY! The answer is YES, btw, and she is yet another female guitarist that the late Michael Jackson helped to bring to the fore of musical notoriety.
Charro is a woman that is really a big time personality that has appeared all over the place in films and on television, but the facts of the matter are, she's one of the world's most skilled Flamenco guitarist, and Flamenco is one of the most complicated musical genres of all! She's probably a tie for first place here, I didn't even think of her until someone brought up her name in the comments here, as I've stopped watching television altogether, and haven't seen her in years.
Please note that I've made no sort of effort to "rank" any of these women as their styles are often vastly different, and also because my primary purpose was to draw attention to the subject and theme - Women Can Play Guitar Every Bit As Good As Men!
There are sure to be glaring omissions on this page, but please do not hold that against me, as I can only include so much in the way of pictures, videos, and text before the page becomes too big to be viable for search engines. Feel free to leave all the link and video links in the comments that you so desire, so long as they are to somewhere involving female guitarist.
Ten great female guitarists
© 2012 Wesman Todd Shaw