It’s women’s history month! One of the most wonderful forms of artistic expression is through music, and women continue to outstand me in their performance of it. Since I like to assume we all know of the great queens like Beyoncé and Aretha Franklin, I am going to leave out from this list the more well known icons and focus on some women who may have been more overlooked. Hopefully this way those who read this will be able to find a new favorite.
1. Kathleen Hanna
Punk musician, singer in the bands Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, and Le Tigre, artist, feminist activist, and basically founder of the riot grrrl movement, Kathleen Hanna is in the hearts of all D.C. punk feminists like myself. In her days of performing in the band Bikini Kill, Kathleen used to shout “girls to the front” in an effort against the male-dominated punk scene. Some of her (in my opinion) best songs include Double Dare Ya, Carnival, Deceptacon, and the famous Rebel Girl. She was one of the first big female punk musicians, and paved the way for a feminist punk scene.
M.I.A is a English-Tamil rapper, as well as a fashion designer, model, photographer, visual artist, director, and activist. I would describe her music as mostly hip-hop/rap, some dance, electronic or world. Her lyrics are often political or activist-y, and her style is very unique. So far M.I.A. has 9 albums out. My favorite songs of hers which I highly recommend listening to are Paper Planes, Borders, and Bad Girls.
3. Nina Simone
Nina Simone was an American singer, as well as pianist and civil rights activist! Her songs were mostly classical, jazz and blues but also folk, R&B, gospel and pop. Simone often talked about racial inequality in her concerts, using her success to spread awareness. She also recorded multiple civil rights songs like Mississippi Goddam. Simone came out with over 20 albums. Like so many other musicians and artists, Simone’s efforts to the civil rights movement were very influential and important.
4. Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara are a current Canadian indie-pop band. If you couldn’t tell from the picture, they’re twins. What’s even better, is their both lesbian. Yup. Two Canadian lesbian twins made a band together. How much better could it get? Well, Tegan and Sara created the “Tegan and Sara foundation” to “fight for economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ girls and women“. They recently came out with their album Love You To Death and are on tour. Check out my favorite songs of theirs: Livingroom, closer, 100x.
5. Poly Styrene
Poly Styrene, who my sister went as for halloween last year, is the founder of an amazing punk-rock band called the X-ray Spex. She grew up in London, where at the age of 15 ran away from home hitchhiking from one music festival to the next. When she was nineteen she formed her band, after seeing the Sex pistols preform live. She is known for her look of very curly short hair and braces, which she rocks quite well.
“When she talks, I hear the revolution in her hips, there’s revolutions When she walks, the revolution’s coming in her kiss, I taste the revolution! Rebel girl rebel girl rebel girl you are the queen of my world”