Five Women and Gender-Expansive Musicians Who Made History
In Beats by Girlz, we celebrate women’s history every month. For our Pass The Aux playlist for March, we focused on women and gender minorities in history who have made an impact on the music of today, as well as giving a voice to underrepresented artists in history.
Big Momma Thang - Lil’ Kim
Lil’ Kim is one of the most influential rappers of all time. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lil’ Kim began rapping in her teens, influenced by MC Lyte and the Lady of Rage. She was discovered by Notorious B.I.G. in 1994 and later joined his group Junior M.A.F.I.A. Their debut album generated two Top 20 singles and was certified gold. She is also the first female rapper to have a number one single on The Billboard Top 100 with her remake of “Lady Marmalade”.
All of Me - Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday or “Lady Day” was seen by many as one of the best jazz singers of all time. Born in Philadelphia, PA, Holiday had a turbulent childhood and moved to New York City and started singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She later signed with the record label Brunswick in 1935. With her career taking off, Billie also worked with Columbia and Decca, recording many tunes which ended up being jazz standards. She was known for her delivery filled with emotion, as well as her great improvisation.
Any Other Way - Jackie Shane
My Journey To The Sky - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Rosetta Tharpe was a blues and gospel singer and guitarist from Arkansas. She became a popular musician in the 1930’s and 1940’s from her recordings, due to her unique blend of soulful vocals and a stellar guitar performance. With time, her public expanded to the rhythm and blues and rock and roll audiences, and she received the nickname “the Godmother of rock and roll”.
Vieja Luna - Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz was a Cuban singer and one of the most influential Latina artists of the 20th century. Cruz became popular in Cuba in the fifties singing guarachas, a Cuban genre, and in the following decades earned the name of “Queen of Salsa''. She began as a singer in the group Sonora Matancera, where she not only learned but mastered many Afro-Cuban styles like rumba, son, and bolero. After the Cuban Revolution, Cruz left Cuba and started her career in the United States. In the sixties, she recorded with stars such as Tito Puente, Willie Colon, and Johnny Pacheco. She received two Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards throughout her career.
Listen to the Pass the Aux: Women's History Month Edition playlist on Spotify for even more new music by women & gender expansive artists!
-Written and compiled by Valeria Orrantia