Women Who Rock
With rhythm coursing through their veins and larger-than-life voices that could move mountains, female music artists have held their own and have often become trailblazers in the worlds of jazz, soul, rock, punk, pop, country, and the like.
Explore our Women Who Rock Group and set your sights on artists like: disco queen Donna Summer; rocker Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks; 'The Voice' Whitney Houston; princesses of pop Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce; and country crooners Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift. They may just rock your world.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
Featured Women Who Rock
Whether it's the blues of Billie Holiday, the rock of Pat Benatar, the punk of Patti Smith, the pop of Britney Spears or the country ways of Dolly Parton, these women of music have defied the odds and made their voices heard in one of the toughest industries around.
Madonna unapologetically celebrated and monetized her sexuality when she began her career in the 1980s. Her bold behavior paved the way for other female performers—including Cyndi Lauper, Britney Spears, and Janet Jackson—giving them the freedom to explore previously taboo roles and take control of their image and career.
Ladies of Pop Music
American society experienced a revolution in the late 1960s and early 70s, especially for African-Americans and women. Janis Joplin was the finest white blues singer of her generation; female singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell shared their innermost thoughts and feelings; Aretha Franklin emerged as the Queen of Soul; and Bonnie Raitt established herself as both a strong vocalist and a brilliant guitarist. Through their music, the women of this era created the soundtrack of social progress.
Influential Female Musicians of the 1960s
The 1990s was the era of the riot grrrl, the rapper and Lilith Fair, which served to reshape traditional ideas of feminism. Artists such as Bikini Kill, Meg White, Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga were able to explore the formerly male-dominated areas of the music industry and become some of the leading voices of the industry. Whether in high-heels, stilettos, or army boots, these ladies stood toe-to-toe with any male artist of the day.
Female Music Icons of the 1990s and New Millennium
In the 1920s, women like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were the first—and for a while, the only—artists to record the blues. American women of this era made great strides toward gaining equality and basic human rights for themselves and others in society, including attaining the right to vote and working toward social justice. The 20th century was a wide-open opportunity for women to embrace the modern world, outside of the traditional bounds of the home.
Foremothers of Rock
Women became the center of the 1970s mainstream, from The Runaways and Heart to Fleetwood Mac and Donna Summer. The gains of the feminist movement throughout the 70s enabled women working in all areas of the music industry to assume more control over their careers.
Influential Female Musicians of the 1970s
The DIY aspect of punk rock made it easier for a woman such as Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry, Marianne Faithfull and Kim Deal to find a place in music. "That was the beuty of the punk thing," Chrissie Hynde later said. "[Sexual] discrimination didn't exist in that scene."
Women of Punk and Post Punk Music