Music is a way to express feelings. Songs convey a meaning to listeners. Some singers are iconic in their industry, making important contributions to the music world in general. Most genres are taken to be independent; however, there is a relation among many of them: they all feature women. For example, Aretha Franklin who mainly sings soul music, achieved international acclaim with her slow singing, being a black singer, and a woman nonetheless, her career started gaining fame during the 60’s decade; a time where racial and sexist prejudices abounded. Her success marked an important stepping stone in the careers of women after her and her songs, promoting the strength of women’s feelings. Aretha Franklin has one of the most individual voices in all of music and I don’t mean that in a purely vocal sense; she is a complete musician (BBC 1). One of her most important songs is A Natural Woman dedicated precisely to a woman. She can, therefore, be seen as a defender of feminism. She earned the title of Queen of Soul.
Britney Spears, on the other hand, is a recent singer, a boom of the pop industry. Her music tends to be, unlike Aretha’s, fast-paced and directed towards young people: her lyrics are reminiscent of high school life. Britney is one of the so-called commercial artists, their influence on the whole of the music community is remarkable but toppled with disastrous scandals, unlike Aretha previously mentioned. Stands to view that Britney’s fame, as with the majority of pop icons, is highly indebted to music videos in which she performed dances and such.
Shakira is a bit of a hybrid, she is a Latin pop singer that began her career with a more alternative outlook, mixing Latin American and Arabic rhythms in her songs. Most of her songs engage directly themes like peace and love, though, as a pop singer, some are just very catchy songs. What shines brighter in Shakira’s contribution to music is her mixing of markets, releasing albums directed both to Latin American and North American markets, she was one of the first singers to mix Spanish and English in her songs. In her early years her songs were slower, gaining speed as she entered the global market.
In the way of R&B we have Whitney Houston, another black singer, she, like Aretha, sings slow pitched songs characterized by a strong voice and love themes. Her almost immediate success and her recurrent appearance on MTV made her a very influencing person, many afro American women declare to be inspired by her. She was also an actress and model gaining recognition in both activities.
Björk is an alternative singer, unlike any of the previously mentioned women she does not abide to a particular genre of music instead constantly experimenting with new mixes. She is one of the most remarkable portrayers of a new trend of fashionistas; her style goes beyond music into acting, being renown by her performance in the film Dancer in the Dark. Similarly, in an interview, Björk complained about the fact she perceived there is certain sexism in the music industry, saying that the industry wills women to be overly emotional at the risk of not selling their music if they are not (The Guardian 1)
Amy Lee is the lead vocal singer of the alternative metal group Evanescence. The group’s songs are usually themed around life and choices, they are recognized inside genre and are commonly seen as Amy Lee’s group. She is a multi-instrumentalist that also takes part in other activities related to music besides singing, like writing songs and scores for movies. Unlike other artists mentioned here she, and Evanescence, are not commerce driven, so the lapses between releases is remarkable.
This short list of women singers is intended to show that despite de differences between genres and eras, their presence is strong in almost any genre, leaving a mark in industry and, sometimes, even changing it. No matter their age or ethnicity women strive to leave a mark in the music community.
- “Are these the 10 most revolutionary women in music? – BBC Music.” BBC News. BBC, 8 Mar. 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
- “Björk on sexism: ‘Women in music are allowed to sing about their boyfriends'” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.