With Women’s History Month well underway, I thought it fitting to feature some of the best female up-and-coming phenomenons the music industry has to offer. Many of these women have grown in popularity over the course of the pandemic, and ought to be especially commended for their individuality and ability to create within their own homes. These women’s musical stylings range from country to soul to pop. No matter your music taste, I guarantee you will find at least one artist for you in the playlist below.
There is something incredibly timeless about this soul-meets-country “genrefied” phenomenon that is Yola. Something out of a catalog circa 1967, Yola’s artistry synthesizes soulful-driven bands like The Temptations and The Supremes with female country music staples like Dusty Springfield to create ingenious modern masterpieces. From her slide guitars to celestas, this powerhouse vocalist’s tracks are going to be playing in every household soon enough.
Celeste is currently topping every music magazine’s “one to watch” list, and the notoriety is not undeserved. Celeste is a fabulous example of an artist who blends the greats to make her own swaggering sound. Her latest album, “Not Your Muse” is like a blend of tragic Amy Winehouse and invigorated Aretha Franklin. If you’re looking for an album that has tear-jerking moments of intense vulnerability mixed with those of triumphant euphoria, this is the album for you.
Must-listen track: “Stop This Flame”
- Winona Oak
I simply adore Winona. Her music, her fashion sense, and even her Audrey Hepburn-reminiscent haircut call back to an earlier retro style. In many ways, she can be compared to Lana Del Rey with her hypnotically slow, soothing vocals, but notably different for her incorporation of synth-pop. She is an absolute icon and brings forth a style that is completely her own.
Must-listen track: “He Don’t Love Me”
A jazz performance major at university, this incredibly talented musician knows how to combine her crooning vocals with edgy lyrics that defy gender norms. She’s got it down when it comes to composing heartbreaking chord progressions and incorporates dreamy indie guitars and kaleidoscopically cascading strings to create dream-pop treasures.
- Hailey Whitters
Anyone in Nashville will tell you that it’s only a matter of time until Hailey finally gets the household recognition she deserves. Having worked in Nashville for years, she’s finally getting to collaborate with the biggies of country music like Little Big Town and Trisha Yearwood, leading to increased notoriety. Hailey’s voice is a call-back to some of the greatest female country artists like Dolly Parton, and she utilizes her vocal chops to tell stories about heartbreak, hopes, and dreams. Her achingly acute lyrics describe universally relatable subjects with the astuteness of a poet. She deserves the clout.
Must-listen track: “Ten Year Town”
- Ellie Williams
Ellie is still a student at the University of Southern California, but is making a real name for herself in the music industry. Majoring in pop performance with an emphasis in songwriting, the education definitely shows with Ellie’s jazzy piano-inspired tracks bordering on Elton John territory. All of her songs are eccentric and enthusiastic and individual in the best ways. Pretty darn inspiring.
Must-listen track: “Clueless”
- Stela Cole
Stela is a hard artist to describe, but I would describe it somewhere between 1960s pop and The Spice Girls. Her jazzed swing combined with the vocal attitude of Lizzo makes for bombastic tracks that will make you feel like an absolute queen. She spits out fast-paced lyrics at a rapper’s pace yet hits high notes like Ariana Grande within seconds, constantly showcasing a vocal prowess that is rarely showcased in today’s pop music. Stela is a rising star who knows her worth.
Must-listen track: “Love Like Mine”
- Maddison Cunningham
She is every neo-folk critic’s go-to artist of the year. A cottage-core darling, Madison’s gorgeously curated acoustic-guitar driven tracks along with her signature “Folklore”-esque aesthetic make her out to be as lovely as a Pinterest Princess. There are about 10 songs of hers that make my “favorite songs” playlist, and she doesn’t seem to be letting up. Her recent singles continue to hit the spot in terms of acoustic guitar flourishings and soothing piano accompaniment.
Must-listen track: “Broken Harvest”
- Gracie Abrams
Gracie is an LA-bedroom indie pop star. Fittingly, her lyrics feel like teenage diary entries with their depictions of love and heartbreak, as well as friends and loneliness. She is everyone’s big sister in that she is the cool girl everyone wants to be but acknowledges her own struggles in an accessible way. Gracie is at the beginning of a long career.
Must-listen track: “tehe”
- Catie Turner
This LA-based artist has been on my radar since 2019. I first became aware of her existence with the song “Prom Queen” and have ardently followed her career ever since. She consistently releases music that lyrically aligns with whatever I am going through, and so a lot of her songs have come to mean the world to me. She has a voice that is up there with some of the greats and songwriting skills that rival many of the tunes that currently grace our radio stations. Take a listen to this indie-pop starlet and tell me you can’t relate to at least one of her songs that tackle the teenage experience.
Must-listen track: “breathe”
These female powerhouses each embody incredibly unique styles that defy norms and are quickly attracting fans throughout social media platforms. Give them some love and stream this playlist to take a listen to each of these queens.