|image via pigeons&planes|
In an industry that's only slowly getting its head around the fact that women have every right to be seen and taken seriously without being backed by an all male band, without having men lecture them on how to write, to produce or to present their songs, without having any sound engineer (I said it, engineer, not sound guy as there are women rockin' this profession, too!) ignoring or belittling their say and opinion when it comes to gig logistics (e.g. sound checking), without being judged for their 'too little or over-the-top sex appeal' (it's a question of perception anyway), without being rated as 'the next (insert any female pop icon)' just because of their looks, without being asked questions in interviews that are superficially gender-specific and don't say much or anything at all about the art they are creating (e.g. 'how long does it take to do your hair and make-up?') – obviously, the list goes on, but let's cut it short here; well, in that kind of industry, it's important to focus on what entitles women to be in the spotlight. And the answer is simple yet for some hard to to comprehend: it's not their looks, it's not their charms, it's their talent and mindset regarding their very own music. Now don't get me wrong: this is not about empowering women/putting women on a pedestal instead of or preferred to men, it's about acknowledging art created by individuals, no matter the gender, without questioning its quality or worth simply because of its maker's sex.
However, as a woman in this business (doing interviews, writing reviews, compiling playlists for my own radio segment on Radio Kaos Caribou), and through learning that women face such misjudgements, prejudices and wrongs all too often still, not just in music but in life, too (thanks for the reminder, Charlotte Carpenter), I feel the need to pay tribute to female artists who, on a daily basis,
show have to show strength and perseverance, confidence and integrity in the face of adversity (i.e. mockery, malevolence, defamation, abuse, to name a few, in an environment that sadly often gives room to being judged based on one's social functions solely, on the image society has formed for one, female and male alike [men indeed encounter difficulties and hardships in this business too, nonetheless neither refuse to withdraw their contribution to creating and fostering art. Hence props to you!], to express my admiration for female artists who inspire and encourage other women to explore this business, to learn how to play an instrument, to be at the front and on stage making themselves heard, simply put, to pursue a career in music.
That women in music 'step up', make their audience pay attention, make it notice, 'see' them and their prowess, that women support one another, is no breaking news, it's what women in music have always done, what women in music are doing at this very moment still and what women in music won't ever stop doing. This doesn't mean though it shouldn't be highlighted and honored. And that's what I am going to do now, by introducing five female musicians whose music is just as powerful as they are themselves.
Already mentioned for her song 'Babywoman' in which the singer/songwriter gets even with society's expectations of women her age ('ideal' agenda: settling down, having kids, buying houses), Charlotte Carpenter paves her own way as strong, independent woman, lives up to and realizes her potential in a domain dominated by men. Confidently rocking her guitar-led (she plays both acoustic and electric guitar), bluesy and energetically enigmatic tunes, she champions the image of assertive and avid female musicians with an ever charming and aware smile playing on her lips.
Songs to check on: next to the rhythmically intense and bluesy 'Babywoman', 'Shelter' – dynamically absorbing and mesmeric in style – is a must. Worth checking on, too, is 'Blood Ties', with its wistfully delicate, emotionally inviting sound.
Next live date: Charlotte will be playing at Sebright Arms in London on June 15 from 7.30 to 10.30 pm (next day/date: another 18+ event at the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham from 7.30 to 11pm)
Not to be missed: Charlotte's yet to be announced (but definite) tour. Her live shows (atmosphere, attitude, tonal appeal) draw you in within seconds.
Beth's bright and positive spirit does not only shine when addressing her audience on social media or when being lively and goofy on set of music/performance videos, it is also vital for her valiant drive to support and promote female musicianship: may it be through stirring songwriting ['you can be who you want to, I will be who I am supposed to be [...] just cause you're shouting louder, don't mean you have the power to take control, to change my soul' ('No Hard Feelings')] and soulfully spirited country-centered playlists (demanding attention for emotionally upbeat and endearingly darling titles from female artists), may it be through succinct and straightforward musings online calling out the custom that in award ceremonies too few women are recognized for their talent which roots in the little number of women feeling strong about writing music in the first place, may it be through teaming up with country starlets and equally talented songsmiths Emily Faye (who has just released a harmoniously uplifting and warmly bright new EP) and Vic Allen to pull off an all female tour ('Write Like A Girl' tour), highlighting the fact that women should be assured about their place in music and should continue to share their unique perspectives and experiences with an audience by writing honest and heartfelt songs.
Songs to check on: personal favourite 'Naked' as it's such a delightfully emotive gem, closely followed by the suspensefully enticing crowd-pleaser 'Dodged A Bullet'.
Next live date: the first show of the 'Write Like A Girl' tour which kicks off at Jurnet's Bar in Norwich on May 9.
A change of name does not mean a change of heart; in other words we can still expect the liverpool-based alt-pop goddess to deliver hauntingly sparkling and velvety lush tunes, though it's under a new guise in 2018: Memory Girl. Her recently announced involvement with Brighter Sound and British Music Experience as leader of a workshop for talented female singers, songwriters and instrumentalists (dates: May 28th to June 1st, sign up for it here until May 21st) lays emphasis on her endeavours to invigorate a local community of musically fascinated as well as gifted females and promises to be a striking success. Without any doubt it's gonna help to inspire, to foster a new generation of young women who hopefully embrace their inner musical heroines afterwards and start/carry on writing electrifying, energetic tunes, delve further into composing meaningful and melodiously poignant music for years to come, just as Ms. McCool does already.
Songs to check on: the vibrantly mellifluous 'Fortress' as well as the playfully smooth and soulfully pulsing 'You&I' (as featured on her outstanding album 'The Great Unknown').
Next live date: her first gig as Memory Girl at Craft Taproom in Liverpool on May 6 at 8pm.
|photo courtesy of Shay Rowan|
Best known for her celestial and mellow tone in music, for the dreamy delicacy and haunting vulnerability that radiates from her voice, one shouldn't mistake the brooklyn-based singer/songwriter for a fainthearted, wispy woman, nor should make the mistake of underestimating her as an performing artist. Strong-minded in terms of advocating the aptitude of female musicians as well as their attitude towards creating something brave and bracing, something powerful and permanent, clad in tonal guise, (Jeni) Magana uses her voice to speak frankly about how women are very capable of making memorable music [and achieving great things in life, despite being told they need male help with it], about how strong their on-stage presence and character manifest in sound and demeanour likewise, whether it's when sharing the spotlight with a band or playing songs on their own. She does both, pours her heart out and puts her soul into visual art and photography, too. And that's as impressive as it is inspiring.
Songs to check on: the seductive and sensitive 'Get It Right', not to forget the heavenly lugubrious 'Inches Apart'.
Starting out in music at the young age of 11, inclined to be influenced and guided by 'older voices', the now 17-year-old decided to only listen to her own telling her to grow as a musician and into a young woman first before making her record debut and defining herself as an artist. What a wise decision that was, is perfectly audible on Kiera's first album 'Car Park Of Dead Dreams', released in 2016 and rich in distinctive as well as dramatically staged songs. From the very beginning the poetic lyricist and soulful singer has found kind and heartfelt words for fellow female as well as male musicians, promoted music that inspired, that struck a chord with her, while not holding back with the 'ugly' moments she experienced as a female growing up in a business with 'ivory tower' expectations. Good manners and maturity (beyond her age) have got her safely through all of it though, show brightly still to this very day (and are probably only outshone by the pure musical talent she calls her own).
Songs to check on: the apollonian and melodiously mesmerizing 'Dolls House'; the stirringly atmospheric and alluringly pensive 'Chewing Gum' is one that doesn't need much convincing either, you will simply fall for it.
As this article only acknowledges the achievements and victories of five female artists, let's take a moment to pay tribute to the fact that there are many women out there, not only in music, fighting their way to the top, armed with talent and grit only. So applause and high-fives to all of them, especially to Lauren from lo-fi pop-punk outfit brand new friend (what a stunning debut album 'Sealtbelts For Aeroplanes' is!!), Jessie from indie rock band Scarlet (who is one of the most badass and kindhearted frontwomen I know), Lauren from the Music Manual (whose musical musings and voice in music are invigorating and inspiring), Karla from When The Horn Blows (whose taste in music and writing skills are superb) and Vanessa from house in the sand (whose role in music journalism and photography is ever enlightening and encouraging). Keep on dreaming big and shouting out loud!