Female Solo Artists

I don’t really like dividing music by sex, but, my top six albums this year are all by female solo artists, and nearly all of my favourite albums this year are written by women, either solo or in a band. I’m a little paranoid that Spotify has somehow pushed me down this route, but I don’t see that they could of. But it seems remarkable.

Is this a golden age for female singer songwriters or is it just me?

I know that part of it might be that, like my old dog, I just prefer female voices to male ones, but that doesn’t explain the brilliance of the song writing.

Maybe I shouldn’t focus on gender, or solo versus band, but 6 out 6 seems remarkable.

I think there’s definitely less of the imbalance which has historically seen music made by men receive more airtime, plaudits, media attention, though work still has to be done at all levels to approach anything resembling true equality. Not sure I am seeing 2020 through the same lens you are - I have to go to 24th on my list to find a solo female singer song-writer (Thanya Iyer), though there are all-female albums above that but either duos or non-singing.

Last year though my top 4 and 7 of my top 10 were solo female acts though (Jamila Woods, Little Simz, Self Esteem, Lana Del Ray, Aldous Harding, Angelique Kidjo, Powder).

My music listening has been dominated by female artists over the last few years. Not so much in the classic singer-songwriter tradition though; lots of electronic musicians, neo-classical, and some with vocals but either in the Grouper vein or artists like Lucrecia Dalt or J Zunz making sort of glitchy experimental stuff.

No idea why that is especially in terms of largely instrumental music but I suspect it isn’t entirely coincidental. Part of it may be that you get lead down paths e.g. I listened to Kelly Lee Owens because she’d collaborated with Jenny Hval and I think on the electronic/classical.experimental side there is an increasing recognition of the importance and influence of previously under appreciated female artists, so listening to Caterina Barbieri naturally lead me to Suzanne Ciani, Doris Norton and others. And also a sense of community between contemporary artists.

btw what are your top 6 albums?

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Had never heard of her and just had a little listen and she sounds great cheers.

Have a particular record to go for?

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She also released a bunch of records as Lorelle but I haven’t had chance to check any of those out yet.

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Thanks buddy, i’ll give it a go :+1:

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It will probably have changed by Christmas, but currently Phoebe Bridgers, Nadia Reid, Waxahatchee (that might be a band tbf), Taylor Swift, Adrianne Lenker, and Frances Quinlan.


I think there has definitely been a shift, for me certainly and I think more generally in what you might loosely call ‘alternative’ music. I recently found a battered double CD best of the year compilation that I did in 2001 and I think it had 2 or 3 female artists out of a total of about 40. In recent years my end of year playlists have been consistently around 50:50. I don’t think I was any more sexist then than now, I was just reflecting what was generally available and promoted at the time.

You see it more widely too - if you look at the acclaimedmusic.net lists of most highly rated albums and see how many of the top 20 were made by women (or female fronted bands) you would find the following:

1990 - 2
1991 - 0
1992 - 3
1993 - 4
1994 - 2
1995 - 5
1996 - 2

(an average of 2.7)

Then, more recently

2013 - 5
2014 - 4
2015 - 7
2016 - 6
2017 - 7
2018 - 11
2019 - 12

(an average of 7.4)

(I used AOTY for the last two of those years because acclaimedmusic has not been updated).

If you look at those earlier years the figures are highly dependent on a small number of established artists (thanks Bjork and PJ Harvey!).

It certainly seems like that there has been a (long overdue) slow trend towards equality which has accelerated in the last few years. Long may it continue.

Not sure what the reason is, but I would guess that the collapse of the old ‘gatekeepers’ (the record industry, the physical music press) and the greater ease in recording and distributing music without industry backing has opened up access and talent has done the rest.


Hmmn, I’m a bit late to the news but I see that women are very well presented in the rock category at next year’s Grammies, so maybe it’s not just me thinking this…

Seems to be reflecting a long overdue cultural shift. Female artists seem to be finally getting their dues, Joni Mitchell rightfully being placed up alongside Young and Dylan etc.

Also, we’ve seen some high profile males out themselves as total arseholes and worse recently, Morrissey, Brown, Adams etc, so maybe there’s more room for more diverse artists in people’s listening habits.