Women In Music

Women In Music

Blog post by Chris
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Guest blog by K

In celebration of Women’s History Month we have complied a list that draws your attention to fifteen iconic women in music that you may have overlooked. Many of these artists have been overshadowed by the male musicians that they have influenced. For me as a musician, when I started listening to the works of these artists, it shined a light on how much impact they had on the music of their times and of ours, and it gave me a deeper understanding of how and where much of the innovations in music have come from.


Elza Soares - Much revered Brazilian singer and minority rights icon that recently released a new genre breaking album

Dorothy Ashby - Brilliant jazz harpist who played, toured and recorded with almost anybody – from Louis Armstrong to Richard Davis

Alice Coltrane - A master composer and artist in her own right and her music should not be overshadowed by the legacy of John Coltrane.

Shirley Collins - In 2016, coming back out of a 20+ years of retirement from music, she created a new masterpiece collaborating with artists from the music collective, Coil, bridging medieval sounds with the world of today.

Karen Dalton - Sadly only releasing two albums in her lifetime both of these and her singing have had immense impact on the music of today, although some try to imitate her voice, none equals her.

Nina Simone - In no way overlooked, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of just how astonishing she was at her best

Carla Bley - Jazz pianist and composer who was the only woman in the Jazz Composers Guild in New York in the 60s is still active today.

Shocking Blue - Dutch psychedelic rock band whose sound is wholly dependent on Mariska Veres’ vocals.

Karin Krog - Norwegian jazz singer who recently was brought back into the light by a new compilation that shows how wide her music has spanned.

Laurie Lewis - A massive force on the Californian bluegrass scene.

Celia Cruz - Exile Cuban singer who recorded a wealth of fantastic music.

Else Marie Pade - Early Danish electronic music composer and pioneer who’s works are the foundation on which modern electronic art music stands.

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas - The couple recorded some of the most haunting sides of blues that was ever put on wax.

Delia Derbyshire - Working at BBC in the early 60s she made sounds and music for TV, sound experiments and with rock groups.

Dorothy Donegan - If you like Art Tatum you have to listen to Dorothy Donegan!


These 15 artists are just a handpicked few that we recommend as a starting point, but we encourage you to dig deeper and ask your librarian to help you find more recordings made by and books about women in music.