As the world celebrates International Women's Day, we at Moshcam want to highlight some of the females in the music industry who are absolutely killing it! A career in music is dynamic, fast-paced, and rewarding, with more roles than ever before. It's also an industry that many women associate with significant challenges and glass ceilings. When you look at the statistics, the underrepresentation of women in the industry is astounding. Females account for only 21.7 percent of all artists currently involved in the music industry, 12.5 percent of songwriters, and a pitiful 2.6 percent of producers. It is time to celebrate women in music - female artists, producers, and designers - their extraordinary talents.
Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard, like many other women in the music industry, was told repeatedly throughout her career that she couldn't succeed because of her gender. In 2019 the leading guitarist and vocalist backed Citi Entertainment’s #SeeHerHearHer campaign which works to increase representation in the industry’s marketing space, inspired by the criticism she faced in her early musical career. We caught Alabama Shakes live at the Metro Theatre, Sydney back in 2013, a howling storm of soul and swagger, Brittany proved she is charming, cheeky with a powerful soul bending voice.
In an interview with VICE in 2019 Amanda Palmer also spoke about the negativity from the very first review of The Dresden Dolls. She reflects “I never knew that it was going to be an important part of this job: to learn to withstand and sit with criticism. But I learned that very quickly and very early on.” We think Amanda is a force to be reckoned with after capturing the Dresden Dolls at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney and Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’s acclaimed punk cabaret show at London’s KOKO in 2012.
Its charismatic front women like Suze De Marchi from Baby Animals, who show just how accomplished female vocalists can be after taking the Aussie music industry by storm with their eight-times platinum self-titled album in the early 90’s. After disbanding in 1996 they made a hugely popular return in 2008. They were still firing on all cylinders when we captured the Baby Animals live performance at the Metro Theatre, Sydney in 2015.
We especially love the female power move from The Jezabels lead singer Melissa Redman in naming their band. “I started explaining to people that maybe Jezabel, and many other powerful or subversive women throughout history have been dismissed as whores as a way of undermining them, and that our band name was some kind of feminist reclaiming of the term that has been stigmatised throughout history.” she disclosed in an interview with Renowned for Sound in 2014. We had the pleasure of capturing The Jezabels show at the Annandale Hotel, Sydney in 2009 and look forward to seeing them return to Aussie shores to mark the 10th anniversary of their ‘Prisoner’ album with a tour in June this year.
Being candid in interviews is also worth applauding women in the music industry for. In an interview with Kinfolk, Lykke Li expressed her mixed feeling about being compared to other Scandinavian pop singers when she said “I think it can be frustrating when you’re starting out and you’re constantly getting compared to other female artists, but I realise that’s just part of the system and being a woman. We’re taught from an early stage that there isn’t room for all of us, which is wrong. In my opinion, the more women, the better!” We couldn’t agree more.
Even Julia from Angus & Julia Stone, who has now developed a career and three albums on her own pointed out some of the prejudices and behaviours expected by female artists. In an interview with NME voiced how she felt like women are constantly being reminded to not be too loud.
We were lucky enough to bask in Sia’s presence at Sydney’s Metro Theatre in 2009. While her established music career has seen her achieve global fame, she’s donated a lot of her wealth to charity over the span of her career. In the midst of covid back in 2020 she pledged $1 million to CORE a community relief organisation who help underserved communities beyond crisis. She’s reportedly given donations to Australian bushfire relief and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. Sia also went on to headline Go Campaign’s Annual GO Gala where all funds raised and supported GO Campaign’s efforts for global Covid-19 Relief, efforts to achieve racial justice for youth in the US and help to fund education for at-risk children (especially girls!) in Africa, Latin America and Afghanistan.
We love to see women in music showing leadership and philanthropy outside of the industry. Just like Fatoumata Diawara who courageously works as a social activist, campaigning against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets. As well as a dedicated humanitarian Fatou, is a testament to her musical style – fluid and graceful African rhythms infused with global influences, led by her lithe and sensual voice. See her performance in action as we captured Fatou’s show as part of the 2012 Sydney Festival.
Courtney Barnett is another great female musician doing more to give back with her music. Courtney teamed up with Camp Cove in 2020 for an intimate benefit show to raise funds for Australia’s bushfire crisis at Richmond’s Corner Hotel. 100 percent of profits went directly to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal, Rural Fire Service in NSW, Country Fire Authority in Victoria and WIRES (Wildlife Rescue). Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style, we filmed her knockout show in 2015 at the Forum in Melbourne.
Music is a male-dominated industry, but this doesn't mean that all of its talent is made up of men. The idea that only men can be the greatest music talent is a misconception and downright absurd to us. Let’s break the norms and pay tribute to some of the best multi-talented female artists on Moshcam.
It’s hard to find a more impressive sibling duo on stage than Donna Simpson & Vikki Thorn from The Waifs. The subtle and soft rhythm of acoustic guitars played by both sisters and guitarist Josh Cunningham marries perfectly with Vikki’s vocals to create the kind of music you could listen to endlessly. The sisters started The Waifs in a remote corner in Western Australia before performing lead to numerous ARIA nominations and two ARIA wins. We caught them on stage at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney back in 2009, where Vikki’s voice is so angelic it lulls us into a heartwarming euphoria and musically transports us to a warm safe place. It’s hard to find talent that can perform such emotionally charged melodies and don’t even get us started on the perfectly delivered harmonica solos.
How coordinated do you have to be to sing and play drums at the same time? In an interview with Darkside Metronomy’s Anna Prior spoke about how she got into drumming - “I started drumming when I was 14 and it was kind of by accident. I just tried to play one afternoon at school and it came very easily and naturally to me, so I wanted to explore them more deeply”. Anna went on to join Metronomy in 2011, simultaneously playing drums and singing flawlessly. While we hope to hear Anna’s talents in person we did catch three-piece Metronomy back in 2009 with their hybrid indie style and trademark electronics at Beck’s Festival Bar, in Sydney.
Did someone say over achievers? Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are multi-instrumentalists playing guitar, piano, banjo, lapsteel guitar, harmonica, double bass, ukulele, drums, trombone, xylophone and accordion between them. They equally give tremendous contributions to music craft and musical culture with their multiple talents. Watch Kitty, Daisy & Lewis in action when we captured them at the Metro Theatre in Sydney in 2012.
Spanning many different styles and genres of music some iconic female musicians have left a legacy. From The Pretenders to Blondie, PJ Harvey to Beth Orton, - each of these musicians has helped to shape the sound of their respective genres. We often take for granted the immense talent of some of our favourite female musicians and it’s important to reflect on their achievements.
We encourage all music fans to celebrate the musical contributions of women around the world. Let’s encourage more women into the music industry by breaking down the barriers and celebrating the successes of those who have paved the way. If there is ever a time to reflect, International Women’s Day is the day.