Women in music
In February, I’ll be hopping on another Cayamo cruise. It’ll be my second year on the monster floating Americana festival, and I’m particularly excited about finally getting to see John Prine. But, the lineup also includes Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Dar Williams, Steve Earle, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, Allison Moorer, Colin Hay, Shawn Mullins, WPA, and on and on (full lineup here). This year, it’ll be a seven-day journey (five days last year – my first time on the ship), and the lineup is considerably more impressive.
The fine folks at Sixthman – the company behind Cayamo – have asked me to lead a couple of discussions during this year’s journey, and one of them is titled “Women in Music.” So, I’ve been thinking about “women in music,” trying to decide where to go with this.
To be honest, I’ve been thinking about “women in music” for years. After all, I was a woman in music for some time, and was unable to avoid random stylistic pairings at bars in farflung towns. If you’re a guy in a band, promoters try to fit you with other bands in a similar style, to round out a bill. If you’re a woman, you invariably get booked for “women’s night,” on a bill with other female singer-songwriters with whom your music likely has nothing in common, except for the fact that you all have breasts. It always amused me on the one hand, but was also always a bit of a relief to see some ladies out there on the road.
As a woman in music journalism, I’ve been tasked with writing the “women in music” article, or have been the default reporter asked to cover specific women artists. I try to not assume it’s because I’m the lady, but music reporting – like music playing – is hardly a women-dominated field. So it goes.
However, tasked with this particular assignment, my first inclination was to make a list: Patti Smith, Nancy Wilson, Joan Baez, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco…a simple Top 5 list which requires little thought. Women who are absolute originals, whose art has influenced everyone else’s, whose approach to simple expression has helped re-steer entire fields of music. Honorable mention to Yoko Ono (say what you will about that in the comments).
I’m going to reserve further comment for the actual discussion onboard Cayamo. Lord knows I can go on about this for hours. But, in the meantime, I’m curious who your cache of go-to women artists are. Who are the women who have changed the way you hear music? Bonus points if you share a video in your comment.