FIRST THOUGHT: Women of the Music Community
Who are some of your favorite female musicians? Women have had their fair share of hits. Madonna is second in Billboard’s all-time Hot 100 Artists, with singers Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston landing quickly behind.
While some think the music industry is moving toward a more hospitable environment for women, it’s still a struggle for many. Lots of women’s voices simply aren’t being heard. And what about other women in music? The music industry is made up of more than singers, like music producers, songwriters and the road crew. How can we support these women?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 113
When I told a friend about the following news, she gasped and said, “That can’t be right!” But it is. This year, The Met is hosting an opera composed by Kaija Saariaho. The last time a female-written opera was performed was in 1903. That’s 113 years! Even crazier: It’ll only be the second opera ever to be performed at The Met that’s been composed by a woman.
Rock-’n’-roll and pop music aren’t the only genres that aren’t welcoming to women. Opera has historically been male-dominated. In the 19th century, it was ill advised for women to compose music and certainly to make a career out of it. After all, women belonged in the home. Give me a break!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Elizabeth McQueen, Musician
We’re fortunate to listen to women who push through the music-industry machismo to make great music. Elizabeth McQueen is one of these women. At the young age of 22, she knew she wanted to be a musician. McQueen moved to Austin, Texas, met some close music buddies and has been a mainstay in the music scene ever since.
McQueen released two albums before playing in the popular country band Asleep at the Wheel for almost nine years. She recorded a duet with legend Willie Nelson that received a Grammy nomination. Yeah, totally no big deal, right? After spending the majority of the time touring with two little children, McQueen knew it was time to make a change.
She has released four solo albums and describes her voice as having an Old School and mid-20th-century-jazz sound. In 2014, she was awarded a $10,000 grant from nonprofit Black Fret, which aims to help musicians record and perform new music, and to provide support to community nonprofits in whatever way they choose.
Remember those friends McQueen made in her early days in Austin? Well, after they went their separate yet successful ways, they got back together to create a band that’s neither country nor duet; it’s electronic. The band EMQ is made up of McQueen, Lindsay Greene and Lauren Gurgiolo, and they released an album in 2015. The distinctive melodies will get your head bopping, that’s for sure.
When McQueen isn’t singing, she’s sharing her love of music. She hosts a podcast called This Song, in which she talks to artists about the songs that changed their lives.
McQueen is like all of us. She’s still trying to figure it all out. We’re just lucky enough to witness her creativity while she does so.
QUITE THE QUOTE
I’ll leave you with these bold words by the first lady of song, Ella Fitzgerald:
“It isn’t where you came from; it’s where you’re going that counts.”
That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.