This particular blog isn’t to discuss inequality and discrimination, but to be the change I want to see in the world. When it comes down to it, women will be better represented in music when we all support and promote them more often. And we female musicians in particular need to collaborate to create new opportunities rather than compete for what may very well be token spots.
So this is a list of 7 female singer-songwriters I’ve come across in my travels or browsing who have impressed me with their music and/or achievements.
I’ve also made a longer Spotify playlist including the women from this list who are on Spotify, some others they have suggested or mentioned, and some other female or non-binary singer-songwriters I like. I have embedded that at the bottom of this list for handy listening.
All of this is entirely subjective based on my experiences, exposure, and tastes, and in no way meant to be definitive. So if you’re reading or listening and thinking of who would be on your list, please make one! Send it my way and I would be happy to share.
I’m not including myself below since this is my website after all, and I’m plastered all over it. But if you stumbled on this blog without knowing who I am, please do check out my music, and if you like it, follow me on social media and come see me live if you’re near where I’m playing.
In order to be as fair as possible, this list is ordered by Facebook fans from least to most. I haven’t made any qualitative judgments.
#1: Katie MF
Current home base: London, UK
Describe your music in one sentence: classic folk narratives set against a rowdy and fun backdrop – contagious punch-the-air folk/punk.
Something unique about you: I nearly died in a car accident last year when an 8 inch, 1 kg piece of metal smashed through my windscreen at 80mph on the motorway… OK I say I nearly died – I was totally unharmed, but it came this close to decapitating me. Obviously I wrote a song about it – Lucky Motherfucker (yet to be recorded).
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? Tina Turner. After everything she went through at the hands of Ike, then battling the racist, sexist and ageist music industry and still being one of the most successful artists of all time – incredible.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? Listen to it! Preferably on Spotify or Bandcamp. And if you like it, tell people about it – word of mouth helps us beat the algorithms and the endless damn hashtags.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? Writing-wise: listen broadly (lots of different genres), read a tonne of books, write stuff down somewhere as soon as it occurs to you – even if you’re just drifting off to sleep. Don’t force it! Performing: every single gig you play will be worthwhile in some form, even if there are only two people there, so give it everything and keep going.
#2: Lucy Bernardez
Current home base: Southampton, UK
Describe your music in one sentence: I don’t identify with a particular genre, but if I had to, I would say my music best identifies with folk/singer-songwriter and a hint of pop, with soothing melodies and chilling lyrics.
Something unique about you: Probably not that unique, but I started seriously writing songs and playing shows when I was around 14-15. I am now 18 and I’ve got some exciting news for this year that I’ll be announcing soon.
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? Lisa Mitchell has always been a huge inspiration for me, she has a beautiful and unique voice and she cares very much about the environment which comes across a lot in her music, which I greatly admire and also try to achieve that in my music.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? I’d say, if you like my music, spread the word. Tell other people to come to my shows, bring them along or merely tell them to listen to my music, which is easily accessible on all major platforms via my website.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? I would say don’t give up even if you doubt yourself or are made to doubt yourself. If you think you’ve got something to share with the world, keep on practising and your confidence will build. I would never tell someone they should stop expressing themselves through music, even if by most people’s standards they aren’t very ‘good’. There are loads of different aspects to being a musician, whether it’s writing good poetry, being an engaging performer, having a beautiful voice or talent for songwriting, if you keep practising you’ll invite more and more ears to listen to you.
#3: Chloe Glover
Current home base: Manchester, UK
Describe your music in one sentence: A blend of punk and folk music, combined with a raw lyrical honesty.
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? As a fierce feminist I’ve always admired Emmeline Pankhurst, ever since learning about her in school when I was younger. The votes for women motto ‘Deeds not words’ has always struck a chord with me. I love that she pissed a lot of people off- as someone who can be a bit of a pushover, I often think about the strength and bravery of Emmeline Pankhurst and everything that she endured in the name of feminism and equal rights. She was an utter legend.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? Like my Facebook page! It helps enormously with getting booked for shows and you’ll be the first to hear about the release of my new EP or exciting gigs in your area!
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? Try to write or play music every singe day. The more confident you become, the easier it is to share your music with the world, and that is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
#4: Natalie Farrell
Current home base: Asbury Park, NJ
Describe your music in one sentence: Expressive contralto vocals with an eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop, and rock.
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? Etta James, Amy Winehouse, and Hayley Williams. They present themselves as powerhouse songstresses that perform with emotion and feeling which really connects with me as a listener. That inspired me to give my audience the same connection.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? To connect and relate to the music. My biggest factor when creating my music is to inspire the listener to learn more about themselves and relate it to their own life.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Sometimes musicians can be hard on themselves and it may feel uncomfortable letting people listen to the raw emotions you put on paper. But at the end of the day, you will change someone’s life with your music and it all starts with showing the world what you’re made of.
#5: Dori Cameron
Current home base: Boston, MA
Describe your music in one sentence: Dori Cameron and the Invisible Monsters is a four-piece rock band with punk undertones from Boston, MA. Members: Dori Cameron (vocals, guitar), Tom Majkut (bass), Jesse Buday (guitar), and Benjamin Buday (drums)
Something unique about you: I never thought I’d be able to be the front woman and guitarist of a band. I was talking to Dave King (Flogging Molly) a few years back about wanting to be part of a band, and he said to me, “Dori… start your own band.” That chat really resonated with me, since I adore Flogging Molly, and Dave King is a huge musical influence on me. I admire his honest lyrics and ability to bring so many different types of people together with his music. I’m so glad I learned how to play the guitar and started a band… it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve hit the jackpot with my band mates Tom, Jesse, and Ben – they also perform as the Boston band “Look Sharp” and I’m very thankful for them. They bring such energy and depth to each song. They fucking rule!
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? Sister Rosetta Tharpe (the Mother of Rock and Roll!), Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Grace Slick, and Liss Victory. I look up to these women so much and admire their tenacity, dedication, and conviction. Liss Victory personally encouraged me to purchase my first guitar and gave me that extra encouragement I needed to really embrace the dream of becoming a musician. She is so inspirational, and I love her music. These amazing women have paved the way for musicians like me, and I’m thankful.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? Spread the word about Dori Cameron and the Invisible Monsters! And come out to see us perform… seeing friends at shows is the best thing about being a musician!
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? Keep going!! Keep going, no matter what happens. Music can become your anchor in a world full of uncertainty.
#6: Kim Boyko
Current home base: Metuchen, NJ
Describe your music in one sentence: I am a self-reflective singer/songwriter who creates confessional acoustic pop songs.
Something unique about you: I’m a nerdy science teacher. I bring my guitar into class on Fridays and my students write science songs with me to show me what they’ve learned.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? I’m not performing right now because I’m a month away from giving birth to my first child, but people can subscribe to my YouTube channel!
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? My advice to someone just starting would be to keep writing and performing no matter what, and stay out of your own way. We are all our own worst critics, and it’s incredibly easy to compare yourself to others & get discouraged. Don’t do that. Just write. Even if you think it sucks, just write.
#7: Reina Williams
Current home base: Elizabeth, NJ
Describe your music in one sentence: Soul medicine.
Something unique about you: To spite everyone over the years telling me I need to stick to one genre, I refuse to. If I make the music I like, then that’s all that matters. Being open to that diversity afforded me the opportunity as a producer to create music that has been placed in over 200 TV shows and commercials. Do what you want.
Which women in history (in music or otherwise) do you most admire and why? Currently it’s Nina Simone. She gave zero fucks about what people thought of her. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind in her songs and she was an amazing pianist.
What is the single most important action people can take to support your music right now? Share my videos and music with your friends.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started with writing and performing music? Be kind to yourself.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: Female/Non-Binary Singer-Songwriters