Saturday, October 16, 2021

Female musicians shape industry

Hales Passino

Rock and roll is a playground of limitless potential and groundbreaking creativity. It is built on the foundations of going against expectations of the music industry, defying societal norms and having fun while you’re at it. Throughout the years, there are numerous women who have broken the glass ceiling of the predominantly male genre.

For female musicians, there have always been the issues of vile criticism, significant pay gaps, less opportunity offers, sexualization and the ultimate fight for having their voices heard.

“Women can offer their experiences and hardships and utilize those emotions into their art,” said freshman nursing major Bryn Walsh.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the music industry itself was male dominated within producers too. Zach Jackson, a SUNY Plattsburgh graduate, feels as though it’s important for women to be involved in the business aspect of music as well as performing.

“The collaboration can be great between the two,” said Jackson.

Female musicians equally deserve the spotlight and recognition their male counterparts receive. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are three notable female musicians that have proved time and time again how much women truly rock the genre.

Janis Joplin, who some would consider to be the first female rock star, is first on the list. Though she lived a short 27 years, she was transformative to the music scene of the 1960s. She was rough around the edges with her raspy and wailing voice, but still soulful in her stage presence.

“This is what attracted a lot of people to her,” said Jackson.

SUNY Plattsburgh graduate Dylan Lesniewski adds how her singing style is noticeably reflected by other singers like Robert Plant and Steven Tyler.

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is another prominent female rock icon of the 1960s. Though her style was not as bluesy and Americana as Joplin’s, both women respectively laid down the groundwork for musicians to follow. Slick was more or less a psychedelic queen with folk inclusion.

“This is what attracted a lot of people to her,” said Jackson.

SUNY Plattsburgh graduate Dylan Lesniewski adds how her singing style is noticeably reflected by other singers like Robert Plant and Steven Tyler.

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is another prominent female rock icon of the 1960s. Though her style was not as bluesy and Americana as Joplin’s, both women respectively laid down the groundwork for musicians to follow. Slick was more or less a psychedelic queen with folk inclusion.

“She’s the first example that I can think of where a woman was one of the main faces of a rock group,” said Lesniewski.

The Mamas and The Papas were revolutionary in their counterculture harmony-based quartet at this time. However, Slick was a lone female lead in a rock group full of men. This has now become rather commonplace with some modern bands, but she was truly a pioneer in this type of lineup.

Slick was also capable of growing with the times and carrying through that same level of success after Jefferson Airplane split into two separate groups. Slick and Paul Kantner went on to form Jefferson Starship in 1974.

Meanwhile, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac is another powerhouse. Her voice is gruff and just as iconic as her graceful style, consisting of key elements like fingerless gloves, platform boots and bohemian dresses.

“Stevie has always walked a fine line between pop and rock throughout her career,” said Lesniewski. Much like Slick, Nicks was able to change and adapt to the times with her solo career.

“It’s inspiring to see someone like Stevie Nicks flourish in the industry and ultimately change [it] into a more diverse platform,” said Walsh.

These women brought their own attitudes and ideas to the rock genre.

Every time a woman composes, sings or produces a record, it breaks down the systemic sexism in the music industry. It’s women like Joplin, Slick and Nicks who inspire many other female artists to do what they do: be heard.

“Their successes are empowering and ultimately make me feel proud to be a woman,” said Walsh.

 

 

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