Five Inspiring Female Musicians for Women’s History Month

From powerful voices to unique personas, every decade has had a breakout female musician who became an important role model for younger women. It isn’t a surprise that females in pop culture have been marginalized and not taken seriously in their work. Through the years, women in the industry have put in major effort to get their voices heard, creating songs with revolutionary concepts. These women have not only paved the way for future generations of aspiring female musicians, but have sought to a create change in society while doing so. Many have used their platform to advocate for civil rights, LGBT activism, and feminism. With March being Women’s History Month, there is no better time to talk about just a few of these influential ladies. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen magazine’s Entertainment Editor and TCNJ alum, helped review five different musicians who rocked their decade and what made them so special.


2000s- Beyoncé

From Destiny’s Child to Lemonade, Beyoncé has had one tremendous career. Using her platform, she has preached independence and girl power through her lyrics. “The themes and concepts that she creates within her music is just so important and contemporary,” says Fuentes, “her music makes it easy to talk about race, oppression and sexism.” Beyoncé continues to be a role model for young women and has even helped up-and-coming R&B duo Chloe x Halle start their career. “These are two young girls that she plucked from YouTube, saw their talent and wanted to make them stars. Yet they still remain so humble and kind,” Fuentes adds.


1990s- Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani’s solo career was epic, beginning in 2005 with her breakout hit “Hollaback Girl”. However, being the frontwomen of the band No Doubt set her apart from other popular musicians early on in her career. “You have to think about the fact that this was the 90s. Grunge, ska and punk were such big hits, but you never really saw female fronted bands, and Gwen kind of changed that trajectory,” says Fuentes. Popular hits like “Just a Girl” and “Spiderwebs” off of the 1995 album Tragic Kingdom became anthems of outraged teens everywhere, and Stefani wasn’t the only girl who knew how to rock. “It’s kind of similar to Alanis Morissette, those two gave females a chance to see themselves in the rock sphere.”


1980s- Cyndi Lauper

Her wild multicolored hair, fearless fashion and unique sound are just a few traits that made Cyndi Lauper so memorable. “Her voice is so completely different, it’s a lot darker and sort of lower toned that you wouldn’t hear in a pop artists’,” Fuentes says. The forever famous song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” defined the light-hearted pop culture of the 1980s, while other hits were slower and more serious. “When you look at, for example, ‘True Colors’, that became one of the first gay anthems in public and she became such a gay icon.” According to Billboard, Lauper founded the True Colors Fund in 2010 to help end homelessness of LGBT youth. She recently moved her talents to Broadway, writing the music and lyrics to the Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots, now in its 6th and final year.


1970s- Stevie Nicks

Whether it’s her mesmerizing voice or her magical aura, Stevie Nicks began casting a spell on her fans ever since she joined Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s. Her bohemian persona still resonates with younger girls today, and new fans can still find a connection with her music. “‘Edge of Seventeen’ will  forever be an iconic song about being young and going through heartbreak and mourning,” says Fuentes. Sure enough, she was able to turn her heartbreak into success. Recently, Nicks has made appearances on the hit show American Horror Story, and is receiving her second nomination into the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her solo career. “Rock and roll is forever, it’s a timeless genre,” Fuentes says. “You can listen to it anytime and kind of relate to it.”


1960s- Aretha Franklin

She was a talented musician, a civil rights activist, and the one and only “Queen of Soul.” “It’s easy to be a singer, but to be a singer with such emotion especially in soul music, that’s what set her apart,” says Fuentes. According to Billboard, Aretha Franklin became involved in the civil rights movement at a young age since her father, minister C. L. Franklin, was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr’s. With hits like “Respect” and “Think”, Franklin sent a powerful message of her independence to the world. Her recognizable voice and meaningful lyrics were enough to inspire generations of young women to call for their own freedom too. No one song could define her career, but who can’t help singing along when spelling out “respect!” Fuentes says that Franklin is “just commanding the respect she needs,” and that it is “so amazing to hear.”


There are many more influential women in music who deserve recognition this Women’s History Month. “It’s so hard to pick one person out of each decade because there are so many incredible people,” says Fuentes. Women have clearly made progress in the industry, but which artist of today is on the forefront of making history? With her appearance in “A Star is Born” and recent Oscar win, Lady Gaga is proof that hard work pays off. “Lady Gaga is so iconic, she has grown so much over the past couple of years,” says Fuentes, “it’s incredible to see her evolution.”