The music industry is one of the most diverse media landscapes, though it has not always been that way. In light of Black History Month, it’s important to recognize some of the most outstanding and influential female artists in the scene. I think of what life would be like without these artists and their music and I know it would definitely be different! There are so many great hits and powerful songs that black women have given us, and I’m here to remind you just how good these songs are!
Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was known as the “Queen of Soul.” With 39 studio albums under her belt, there’s no doubt that she made a life-changing impact with her music! She was also a civil rights activist, and she was greatly dedicated to women’s rights and civil rights. Her performances at benefits and protests were daring at the time, but she stood up for what was right through the power and influence of her music! The iconic song Respect was and still is so powerful! Since her death she has received many tributes in her name, and her legacy of great music definitely still lives on today. Franklin was so hard-working and dedicated to her music, leaving so many inspired!
Beyoncé is probably the most iconic female artist of our generation, and possibly of all time. She is the first black woman to headline a Coachella Valley Music Festival, has done Super Bowl performances in 2013 and 2015, dropped Beyoncé, a surprise album with music videos included, and so much more. Her Destiny’s Child days were such a smash hit as well! The joint collaboration between her and husband Jay-Z for the song and video Apesh*t was an iconic moment in pop culture and media thanks to their discussions of race and power. The fact that they rented the Louvre out as the location for the video was also a big thing in terms of the couples money and influence. Beyoncé has 6 solo studio albums and all of them have amazing hits for every emotion. We owe Beyoncé so many thanks for her helping change beauty standards for women, for giving us the song Single Ladies along with many more hits!
Believe it or not, Nicki Minaj’s first album Pink Friday is almost 10 years old. It really feels like her song Super Bass was released just yesterday! Minaj now has 4 studio albums, and not to mention tons of hit collaborations through the years. She may have her controversies but she is quite committed to helping those in need supporting her church, and helping out her fans. In these years she has been nominated for tons of Grammy awards. Minaj is known as the “Queen of Rap” for a reason, and in 2012, a New York Times editor said that some consider her to be “the most influential female rapper of all time.” She has inspired so many young women by staying true to her authentic self and image, all while dropping some amazing rap songs!
Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. She had 7 studio albums and all were beyond incredible. She grew up with the church, and learned to sing from her mother. Her music was hopeful, inspiring and life-changing to many! During the 1980s, MTV received criticism for not playing enough videos by black artists. With Michael Jackson breaking down the color barrier for black men, Houston did the same for black women. She became the first black woman to receive heavy rotation on the network following the success of the “How Will I Know” video. This allowed many other black female artists to follow in her footsteps and get the recognition they deserved too. Creating a space for artists like her on mainstream platforms was a huge achievement, and we are so thankful she did!
Whitney Houston’s iconic 1992 recording of “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack is among 25 albums and singles inducted this year into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame® in recognition of their historical significance. Whitney’s recording of “I Will Always Love You” won the 1994 GRAMMY Award® for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Each year recordings that are at least 25 years old are reviewed by a special committee from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by the Recording Academy’s™ National Board of Trustees. With 25 new titles, the Hall, now in its 45th year, currently totals 1,063 recordings.
Cardi B seems like she just hit popularity not too long ago, but she has been around making music for quite a while! One of her break out hits was “Bodak Yellow”, and since she has been a force not to be reckoned with! She’s done tons of reality TV, but just has one studio album. Her album Invasion of Privacy just won Best Rap Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys! This is a huge accomplishment for a first album. Though she has had some scandals, she has proved that hard work and dedication can get you so many places! Not to mention she’s a new mom, doing a Fashion Nova line collaboration, and just being her most genuine, funny and iconic self. Cardi also performed at Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2018 while pregnant! She is definitely changing the rap music industry for women.
There were so many other black female artists that also deserve recognition, not just these 5! What all of these women have in common is how powerful and influential their music has been since the start of their careers. It is so great that black female artists continue to grow in the industry and get the proper representation they deserve! Music is so powerful, and with these females their music is knowledge and deeper than just a song. There work has definitely inspired many others to continue to use music to make change, spread positivity, and put that knowledge out there.