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Women in the world of music have worked hard to create opportunities for themselves and future generations of females in this predominantly male industry.

Start by listening to a bit of Janis Joplin, who is considered to be one of the first women to make her way in rock music, and then learn a bit about her life too. Or queue up some Jefferson Airplane, Blondie, The Runaways or The Bangles, all bands which have female singers.

Women Rock! Day is here to promote the women in the music industry, take note of the gender gap, and work toward doing something about it!

History of Women Rock! Day

With the idea that young women need role models in the music industry, Women Rock! Day is celebrated on January 3 in honor of the day in 1987 when Aretha Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The day has been celebrated each year since.

The purpose of Women Rock! Day is to raise awareness for, and bring encouragement to, females who are breaking through the glass ceiling and making a difference in the music industry. While many have seen great improvements in closing the gender gap, music is still highly unequal. For instance, less than 2% of programs put on by major US orchestras in 2014-2015 were composed by women. And that’s just the beginning.

On Women Rock! Day, prepare to learn more about the struggles women have had in the past to move up into the world of music. And also take some time to encourage some budding young female musicians who might just be ready to make musical history in the future.

There’s lots to choose from when it comes to celebrating and enjoying Women Rock! Day with some of the best music of all time!

Women Rock! Day Timeline

1960

Connie Francis hits #1

The first woman to reach Number One on the Billboard chart, Francis releases Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool.[1]

1985

Whitney Houston releases debut album

Setting the stage to become one of the most awarded females in the music industry, Houston releases her self-titled album.[2]

2010

Beyoncé wins 6 Grammys in one night

The record for the most Grammys by a single female artist in one night goes to the Queen of Pop herself. Later, Taylor Swift will top this.

2015

Joan Jett inducted into Hall of Fame

Starting one of the first all-female rock bands, The Runaways, in 1975, Jett goes on to fame with The Blackhearts. [3]

2020

Billie Eilish Sweeps the Grammys Top 4

19-year-old Eilish is the first female to nab the Big Four at the Grammys – best album, record, song of the year, and new artist.[4]

How to Celebrate Women Rock! Day

Get involved with Women Rock! Day by celebrating and telling friends about it as well. Try out some of these ideas for paying heed to the day:

Support Females in the Music Industry

One great way to celebrate Women Rock! Day is to buy and listen to music that has been created by female musicians. This might include buying a new digital album, a vinyl record or even tickets to a live concert.

Whether it is an up and coming indie singer/songwriter with a self-produced album, or a woman in the world of pop who deserves support, this is the perfect day to buy some music created by women. Not only that, be sure to share the idea with others who may not know about Women Rock! Day so they can also have the chance to support female musicians.

Build a Playlist for Women Rock! Day

Take some time to queue up a list of some amazing songs in honor and celebration of the day. Choose from some of your favorite pop, jazz, or rock women musical artists and have fun listening! Get started with some of these famous female musical artists who rock:

  • Aretha Franklin. The woman who was the inspiration for Women Rock! Day, Aretha Franklin is referred to as the Queen of Soul and has hits starting from the 1960s. Her most popular songs include Think, A Natural Woman, Respect, and Chain of Fools
  • Madonna. Known for her risque, cutting edge persona of the 1980s, The Material Girl offers up these hits that would do well on a playlist: La Isla Bonita, Like a Virgin, Papa Don’t Preach, Like a Prayer, and Vogue. 
  • Beyoncé. Making her debut as the lead singer of the girl group, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles eventually stepped out with her first solo album in 2003. Some favorite songs of hers might be Single Ladies, Crazy in Love, Break My Soul, or Run the World. 
  • Cher. An iconic female voice in the music world, Cher has been breaking down walls for decades. Her first number one hit was in 1965 with then husband, Sonny Bono, I Got You Babe. Some of her other hit songs include If I Could Turn Back Time, The Shoop Shoop Song, Take Me Home and Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.

Encourage a Budding Female Musician

Whether you know a young girl who has some musical talent, or you are one, this is the time to bring encouragement to their potential. Celebrating Women Rock! Day means not only drawing attention to female musicians on this day, but supporting and encouraging them all year through!

Make a Donation to Support and Educate Women in Music

Those who don’t personally know any young women who want to be musicians can still be involved. Perhaps it means making a donation to a local charity that helps buy musical instruments for underprivileged kids or who sends young girls to music camp. Or maybe it means supporting an organization that offers scholarships and helps send young women to music schools such as The Juilliard School, Berklee College of Music or the Curtis Institute of Music.

Learn More About Women in Music

Take some time in honor of Women Rock! Day to start reading a biography or doing some internet research on some of the important women in the music industry, like Joan Jett or Whitney Houston. Try out some of these book titles to get started:

  • Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon (2015). A founding member of the rock alternative band, Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon tells her story in this memoir about rock and roll, motherhood, independence and equality empowerment. 
  • These Girls: A Foray Through Feminist Music by Juliane Streich (2019). This anthology of female music spans the years to reveal the concentrated girl power that dwells behind music history. 
  • Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissie Hynde (2015). Founder and lead singer of the rock band, The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde shares about her formative years in Ohio, moving to London and starting a band that would eventually lead her to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
  • True Love by Jennifer Lopez (2014). The first book written by pop icon and actress, JLo, this one talks about the challenges faced by a woman who is trying to balance a career and motherhood.

Women Rock! Day FAQs

What percentage of musicians are female?

According to one count, less than 25% of the people on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the end of 2021 were women. [1]

How many female musicians are there?

In the world of popular music, women make up approximately 22-24% of performers, songwriters make up 12-14% and producers just 2-5%. [2]

Why are there less female musicians?

Many believe the problem starts in childhood when girls are not encouraged to play guitar or join a band, and this also perpetuates the problem of few role models for girls in the music industry.[3]

Who is the most awarded female musician?

Whitney Houston has been the female musician with the most awards, according to Guinness, with more than 400 career awards.[4]

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