Blog • International Women's Day

March 2022

International Women’s Day: Celebrating Female Musicians

International Women’s Day falls on the 8th of March every year to commemorate the achievements of women around the world. Over the years, many remarkable women have made their marks through music. Following the 2022 theme of ‘Breaking The Bias’, here are some amazing female musicians who have challenged the norms of their times and paved the way for the next generation of musicians.

Fanny Mendelssohn

While the history of classical music is dominated by male composers, it certainly does not mean that female composers did not exist before modern times. Fanny Mendelssohn was one of many women who had to fight for her music to be heard. Despite being a talented performer and composer like her younger brother Felix, their father was opposed to composition as a career for women. Yet, Fanny had composed more than 460 works in her lifetime, some of which were originally published under her brother’s name.

Louise Farrenc

Farrenc was a French composer and pianist, and the only female to be appointed as a professor at the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century. She has written great music which includes orchestral works, and two piano quintets which were highly regarded by critics. Despite being an accomplished musician and educator, Farrenc was paid marginally less than her male counterparts. For nearly a decade, equality in pay was something she tirelessly fought for. She eventually won the long fight with the influence of her exceptional works.

Billie Holiday

‘Lady Day’ was the singer who redefined jazz music with her haunting voice and singing style that are still recognisable by many today. Her unique way of manipulating phrasing and tempo also influenced other genres of singing like pop and theatre. Besides her huge presence in the music scene, Holiday was also a civil rights activist. She sang what is widely regarded as the first protest song of the Civil Rights Movement, ‘Strange Fruit’, which features a poem about anti-lynching.

Aretha Franklin

Franklin was known as the ‘Queen of Soul’ and is still a huge musical influence for R&B, Pop and Soul singers years later today. She won 8 consecutive Grammy awards and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Besides being a music legend, she was a fierce supporter of civil and women’s rights. She also championed causes such as health care access, environmental protection and disability rights. Her music and their empowering messages have inspired generations of people worldwide.

Ella Fitzgerald

Given the title of ‘First Lady of Song’, Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer known for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, and stellar improvisation skills. In fact, she is one of the most highly regarded scat singers in jazz history. Her amazing musicianship made her the first African American woman to have won a Grammy award. She was also the first Black female artist to perform at a Super Bowl Halftime in 1972.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter who remained one of the foremost activist voices in music throughout her career. Besides being named the ‘Godmother of Punk’, Smith is also a proficient writer and poet. In fact, she created her own groundbreaking brand of music which fused poetry and rock. Her 1975 debut album ‘Horses’ is said to have played an important role in the New York City punk rock movement.

Whitney Houston

One of the most influential names in modern Pop and R&B, Whitney Houston’s voice is one that will never be forgotten. With many classic hits under her name, she is one the best-selling recording artists of all time, and her soulful vocals and improvisation skills have influenced many musicians after her. Houston was also the first recipient of BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her notable contributions to the music industry.

Carole King

Regarded as the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century, King has written many hits for some of the biggest acts in music. She was also the first woman to win the Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. There is even a Broadway musical that tells her life story and career titled ‘Beautiful’.

Feeling inspired by these female music icons? You can become the next musician to make a difference! Start your musical journey with music lessons at Aureus Academy today! Our music lessons are individually-tailored so you can explore any genre of music that piques your interest. Sign up for a free trial lesson and experience our one-to-one music lessons for yourself!

Xin Min

Xin Min is a content writer at Aureus Group with a passion for all things related to music and the arts. Being in touch with music from a young age, she has grown to enjoy a wide range of musical genres from classical to jazz and musical theatre, and hopes to share the endless charms of music through her writing. When she is not busy typing away in front of a screen, she can be found running her fingers across her piano keys.