International Women’s Day: Ten women who changed the music industry

Madonna re-wrote the rule book.

To mark International Women’s Day iSing Magazine is shining a light on some of the talented women who changed the music industry. Although International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for more than 100 years, it’s only in the last decade that the movement has really come into its own. Commemorating the crusade for women’s rights, IWD is now a global campaign and is recognised by almost every industry. So many women have made a huge contribution to music. Here we shine a light on 10 remarkable female talents.

1 Ma Rainey Jazz legend and mother of blues, Ma Rainey was an American blues singer who was one of the very first females to record this genre.

2 Billie Holiday The jazz legend pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. The influence of this unique vocal talent, who enjoyed a career that lasted more than 30 years, is still strong in jazz and pop singing today.


3 Carole King The American composer has written more than 118 hit songs to date. She is considered one of the most successful female songwriters of all time. Her hits include You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman) and You Got a Friend. Last year, The Carole King Musical began its first tour of the UK and Ireland.

4 Aretha Franklin Gospel singer Aretha Franklin has been singing since she was a child in her church choir and was the first woman to be featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The vocal powerhouse is known as the Queen of Soul for good reason.

5 Dolly Parton The multi-talented entertainer has been a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and actress for decades and still a huge country music icon. She’s conquered the big and small screens and is a canny businesswoman. The hugely talented Parton, who penned Jolene, Coat of Many Colours and I Will Always Love You, was one of the first female performers to take complete control of her career and image.

6 Patti Smith Punk rock influencer Patti Smith is best known for her fusion of poetry and rock music and her kick-ass attitude. Smith paved the way for other strong, female artists such as Madonna and Courtney Love.

7 Madonna Pop star Madonna didn’t just make her mark on the music industry, she re-wrote the rulebook. Madonna is the fourth best-selling music artist in the world and best known for her constant reinventions and for pushing boundaries.

8 Björk The Icelandic singer-songwriter stands out from the crowd, both musically and physically. The fashion forward artist, draws on a multitude of musical influences including electronic, classical, avant-garde and experimental genres.

9 Beyonce From humble beginnings as a member of the American girl group, Destiny’s Child, R’n’B star Beyonce is now a brand in her own right, and is worth a reported 500 million dollars. Her sixth album Lemonade was a powerful exploration of a marriage in trouble and left us in now doubt that Beyonce is not a woman to mess with.

10 Adele She’s only 29 but Adele has already conquered the music world. Her song, Someone Like You, is the second most downloaded song in the UK and Billboard have crowned her Artist of the Year three times in her 12-year career. Adele’s success is down to her amazing vocals and songwriting ability and is considered a “once in a generation” talent.

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Gemma Wilson-Vidal is a London-based journalist, editor, blogger and all-round media professional. She has a particular interest in popular culture, beauty and fashion and works in the internal communications industry. Although a seasoned editor, Gemma still enjoys writing and regularly contributes to a variety of lifestyle titles.