Women in Music

An overview of the most influential women in music history


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In the male-dominated music industry of the 20th century, it was a difficult task to publish music and get your voice heard as a woman. But even so, many women overcame the difficulties presented and became some of the most well-known names in music.

 Nowadays, women are no stranger to the music industry; thanks to the road paved by the proverbial greats of music such as Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Édith Piaf, Janis Joplin, and Dolly Parton.

 Billie Holiday began her career in the late 1920s where she made a name for herself by singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She made her recording debut in 1933 at the age of 18 and her final album was released in 1958.

  Holiday is considered one of the most innovative singers in the jazz industry and had a real impact on the identity of American music. Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter that is considered “one of the greatest songwriters ever” by Rolling Stone Magazine.

  Mitchell, like Holiday, began her career singing in nightclubs. In 1965, she moved to the United States and started to tour. Some of her songs were covered by popular folk singers at the time, so she was picked up by Reprise Records and recorded her first album in 1968.

  Her 1971 album, “Blue”, was rated the 30th best album ever made in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” which is the highest ranking of a female artist on the list.

  Not much is known of Édith Piaf’s life, but Édith Piaf is to this day considered one of France’s greatest international stars. She is seen as one of the greatest performers of the 20th century and her music is still globally celebrated.

 These female artists redefined the music industry and allowed a realignment of the way the industry was constructed. The modern music industry would never be as diverse if it weren’t for the seminal female musicians in the 20th century.

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