March is Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate than highlighting some of the most amazing women in the music industry! From radio disc jockeys to pop sensations, these women have changed the world of music forever.
A Timeline of Women in Music History to Celebrate Women’s History Month
During World War II, the American troops were desperate for any morale booster they could get–especially after the Japanese military began broadcasting demoralizing radio programming by Tokyo Rose. In response, the United States came up with their own radio sensation– G.I. Jill, who was portrayed by Martha Wilkerson.
As the first female radio disc jockey, G.I.Jill broadcast her program from Los Angeles while supporting American troops around the world.
Connie Francis did not always have musical stardom–in fact, after being rejected from every major label, Francis was signed with MGM Records in 1955. After multiple songs flopped, Francis was ready to quit music entirely and study medicine. But then, she recorded a cover of Bert Kalmer’s “Who’s Sorry Now,” which propelled her to fame.
Dick Clark introduced the song on his television show, “American Bandstand” in 1958, and it became a hit, selling a million copies less than six months after release. Francis is now considered one of the most versatile singers in the industry.
Just as the British Invasion made way in America, a group of young women known as The Supremes took on the Fab Four. Part of Detroit’s Motown scene, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard started the group with little success at first.
But that all changed in the summer of 1964 and their song “Where Did Our Love Go.” The song went to number one on the charts and sold more than 2 million copies.
As a teen, Joan Jett took over the rock music scene fronting The Runaways. The group was one of the first all-female rock bands and became the most iconic of the 1970s. From their rebellious lyrics, scandalous fashion and young age, The Runaways were quite the opposite of the popular music of the disco era.
As time progressed, the band went their own ways. Jett went on to have her own music career, leading to her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
We all know and love this next icon for her hit, “Respect.” Aretha Franklin became a music legend for a variety of reasons. While her career went through stages as music interests changed by the masses, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Would it even be a complete timeline without the queen of vocal range, Mariah Carey? While her prestige is built around a variety of accomplishments, here is the highlight reel:
- Carey achieved her 12th Hot 100 number one hit with “Honey”;
- By the end of the 90s, her total reached 14,
- Followed by 18 top hits in the 2000s, becoming the solo artist with the most “Hot 100 No. 1s,” and the second-most of any act, next to The Beatles.
In 2002, Julie Greenwald was promoted to president of Island Records–a huge win for women in the industry. Since then, Greenwald has celebrated much success as the COO of Atlantic Records.
With so many amazing women in the music biz, we wanted to highlight some of the greatest accomplishments of women in music in the 2010s:
- 2017: Beyoncé earns her 62nd Grammy nomination, the most of any female artist.
- 2018: Cardi B is the first female rapper to claim two number one hits.
- 2019: Taylor Swift becomes artist of the decade winning six American Music Awards, taking her all-time total to 29 and breaking Michael Jackson’s record.
From radio to pop, soul, and rap these incredible women have changed music forever.
Did We Miss Anything in Our Celebration of Women’s History Month?
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