March is a special time for me, not just because it’s my birthday month, but also because it’s the national month to celebrate women’s history. Throughout the years, women have fought for the right to vote, the right to work and receive equal pay and the right to be treated equally in society. So, in honor of all the women who rock at what they do, here is an empowering playlist full of amazing female musicians.
15. “When We Were Young” by Adele:
Adele is always classy, always radiant and always honest. In “When We Were Young” Adele pours her heart out a thousand times over and takes us along for the ride.
14. “Self Portrait Beneath Women’s Mask” by Moon Honey:
Ethereal and unearthly, Moon Honey has a unique quality that’s hard to place. From retro guitar riffs to lead singer Jessica Ramsey’s intriguing vocals, the band has a grit and charm ready to sooth and unnerve all at the same time.
13. “Daddy Lessons” by Beyonce:
Love or hate her (though most love), you can’t talk about contemporary music without noting Beyonce’s impact on black culture and feminism. ‘Lemonade’ won me over last year, and “Daddy Lessons” is a great testament to Beyonce’s versatility.
12. “Things We Never Say” by Bad Bad Hats:
What is womanhood without a little sensitivity. The female perspective is something often overlooked in music culture. That is, sometimes we’re afraid of saying what’s on our mind because we don’t want to seem weak or emotional. Bad Bad Hats’ singer Kerry Alexander doesn’t shy away from her emotional prowess, rather she embraces it with honest songs such as “Things We Never Say.”
11. “Atomic Number by” Case/Lang/Verse:
Women are unique and wonderful creatures with qualities that come together in the best of ways. We are strong, sensitive, powerful and worth every ounce of respect. “Atomic Number” by Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs highlights the intrinsic values that make us who we are.
10. “Play it Cool” by Feels:
The world needs more women (and men) like the no holds barred members that make up Feels. Their rowdy punk sound and can-do attitude can be felt in every song and performance.
9. “Leather Jacket” by Thunderb****:
What could be more hardcore than a band whose name I can’t spell in print singing about how it feels to put on a leather jacket for the first time? Probably nothing. “Leather Jacket” is a bluesy, gritty tune that will have you purchasing your first motorcycle duds in the very near future.
8. “Tu Si Sabes Quererme” by Natalia LaFourcada:
Mexican singer Natalia LaFourcada just released this new single about love, and there’s so much to love about the Hispanic singer’s sultry vocals and playful guitar riffs.
7. “Tears Dry on Their Own” by Amy Winehouse:
Through many scandals, questionable decisions and a tragic end, Amy Winehouse’s talent and honesty was never challenged. Though her death is a sad reminder and cautionary tale about the dangers of alcohol and untreated mental illness, her music is a beautiful testament to her charisma and raw talent.
6. “Strangers” by Lucius:
Lucius is the perfect embodiment of creativity and quirkiness. Even when the band is covering a song, such as The Kinks’ “Strangers,” they find a way to do it in a new and innovative way. Their live performance of the song is captivating, and the band engages with the audience in a beautiful way. From their strange, fun and evocative music videos to their colorful dress on stage, Lucius shares their creativity in everything they do.
5. “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” by Selena Quintanilla:
Over a decade ago my brother, then 4, heard “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” blasting through the speakers of Disneyworld’s Epcot amusement park. He had never heard the song before, nor did he know about Tejana music artist Selena Quintanilla. That didn’t matter though. He immediately started dancing, and in a moment, my brother had unknowingly entangled himself in a love affair with Quintanilla and her music — a love that is just as strong today. Now, there is a soft spot in my heart for Quintanilla, partly because of my baby brother and partly because of my Hispanic heritage. But, personal preference aside, there are so many reasons why Quintanilla embodies the spirit of feminism. While her music wasn’t necessarily political or controversial, Quintanilla understood the power she held as a woman and the potential to break into the world of Tejano music, a predominately male genre at the time. Quintanilla didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she twirled and twisted through it as if it weren’t even there. Quintanilla’s charisma and vocal talent led her to stardom, but she also understood the benefit of being hands on with her music career and overall image. Her music had the ability to bring people and cultures together. After cementing a strong presence in Tejano music, her crossover album made waves in America. She crossed borders and languages as if they weren’t there, and was adored by many for her bubbly and welcoming personality. And, after her untimely death, Quintanilla’s music still moves even the most unlikely souls.
4. “Die Young” by Sylvan Esso:
Sometimes the most empowering thing is finding out how much you can be moved by others. Feeling independent doesn’t always mean being alone or not caring about others. Sylvan Esso’s “Die Young” tells an intriguing story in the most unconventional way, one that submits to love and humanity. Sylvan Esso itself is a band that intrigues and captivates listeners with an electronic sound that undeniably speaks to the heart.
3. “Shades” by Alexandra Savior:
Now, I feel like mentioning that I should have discovered Alexandra Savior much earlier than I did. The Los Angeles based singer not only has a unique voice and point of view, but she also has some powerful backings with the likes of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys). Turner and Savior met by happenstance, decided to throw a few songs together and have even performed together at a few small L.A. venues. The duo gained more steam when Turner called on Arctic Monkeys’ producer James Ford to get involved. The result is a gritty, dark and all too alluring project set to make waves, that is if you don’t mind swimming in choppy waters. Savior’s music seems to establish a feminist perspective with a “rambling man” sort of vibe.
2. “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes:
When Brittany Howard opens her mouth, there’s no mistaking her intent. Her vocals never beg, never question. They never waver, nor do they falter. No, Howard never questions, rather, she demands, each note delivering an unmistakable confidence. “Gimme All Your Love” is just one example of Alabama Shakes’ talent. Watching Howard on stage is like witnessing ecstasy in motion. It’s raw, powerful and truly humbling. And when you learn that Howard went from working in a mail room to fronting one of the best alternative bands this decade, you realize how determined and hard-working she and her band are.
1. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin:
In a playlist about empowering female artists, no one could forget Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The powerful, motown song struck a chord in the psyche of women everywhere 50 years ago, and its message still resonates with us today. As we celebrate National Women’s Month, we remember the wonderful, brave women who came before us and fought for a simple, yet important ideal: respect.
BONUS: A photo album of some rocking females taken by yours truly.