Women empowerment has come a long way – especially in today’s music industry, where female musicians like Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga are able to enjoy more or less the same status as their male counterparts.
Even though these women are powerhouses of the industry, they don’t represent the bigger picture when it comes to making successful music. From vocals to music, videography to costumes and arranging tours to concerts, it takes an entire army to make these women successful and when it comes to the music industry, this army is predominantly male.
Even though the battle for gender equality is far from over, the entertainment industry is in a much better place than it used to be, majority of which they owe to notable women who painstakingly fought for what’s fair and right.
Female artists today are more than enjoying the fruit of hard work of icons and legends that stood their grounds no matter what. Now, we see names of successful women musicians everywhere, like Adele, who was 2017’s biggest-selling album in the United Kingdom, or those that yearly made it to Forbes’ top earners.
Despite the success, people cannot hide the fact that the road to this was never easy or great – but it is important to understand that women from the music industry had gone to great lengths to achieve what is enjoyed now. So, it pays to know who these extraordinary, brave people are.
Most millennials wouldn’t know who Ma Rainey was but she was one of the artists who put life in blues. Believe it or not, women were the first ones who popularized this music genre, as Lucy O’Brien claimed in her book “She Bop”.
Ma Rainey was also dubbed as The Mother of the Blues, a rightful nickname for the performer that was exposed to the genre at an early age. She toured with her husband, Will Rainey, but she was also successful on her own, producing 100 solos, earning more than enough to set up two theaters and retire a millionaire later on.
Ma Rainey discovered Bessie Smith, who further made blues famous and became successful in quite an unconventional way. She earned the moniker Empress of the Blues and made headlines for releasing songs like “One Hour Mama” and “Ain’t Much Good In The Best of Men Nowaday” which others say was unusual for the kind of song she was into since blues usually ponders on heartbroken women.
When blues semi-morphed into jazz, there was one pioneer who comes to mind – Billie Holiday. Despite her harrowing experience, she didn’t let this hold her back from shining most in what she does: singing. In fact, she turned the pain she felt into something so awakening and inspiring that the world was shocked. Her song “Strange Fruit” showed just how angry she was with what used to be her plight.
Another one who made her mark in the industry was Ella Fitzgerald, who was the first black woman to lead The Copacabana. Her influence was not short-lived, as even other female personalities like Bjork had been outspoken of their love for the jazz singer.
Carole King was one of those whose passion for music was discovered at a young age – at 4, she started playing the piano. With her husband, she also wrote songs like “The Loco-Motion,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” making her one of the most celebrated songwriters of the ‘60s.
Singer-songwriter Barbra Streisand enjoyed 60 years in the music industry, all with much acclamation and due recognition. However, this talented artist originally didn’t plan to become one of the greatest singers of all time as she wanted to have a career in acting at first. But because her versatile voice rendered impossible to ignore, the multi-award-winning performer had ventured into music and made millions out of it.
Janet Jackson started out alongside the talented men in her family, her already successful brothers like the King of Pop Michael Jackson and mostly her dad, Joseph Walter Jackson, Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame inductee. However, her third studio album, “Control,” proved she was ready to lee off his father’s shadow.
“Pokerface” hitmaker Lady Gaga is one to smash all societal standards – her creativity flows from her fashion choices to her songs. Despite other people raising their eyebrows on some of her outfits, she had scored numerous awards under her belt, including six Grammy Awards, and had earned the hearts of her fans after being courageous enough to stand up against body-shaming, a current issue that’s being dealt with by almost everybody.
Last year, Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, became the target of body-shamers after they poked fun of her photos during her performance at Super Bowl. In response, the singer reiterated she was contented and proud of her body no matter what naysayers say.