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International Women's Day is officially March 8th, but here at WUMB Radio we have decicided to honor the countless musical contributions that women have made throughout the years, during the entire month of March.
We are spotlighting some of these amazing artists with special vignettes about their lives and contributions. If you have missed any on the air, you can listen to them here.
This page will be updated throughout March, so keep checking back for new segments!
Joan Baez was born in Staten Island, NY to an Irish mother and Mexican father, who was a physicist. They relocated to Redlands, CA, where, because of her heritage, she had a hard time fitting in with her peers. She spent her career fighting for the underdog, which may have extended from her own childhood experiences.
Listen here to learn more about Joan Baez
From the late 1920's all the way through the 1950's, Maybelle Carter was a familiar presence on American Radio and a powerful influence on the course of country music.
Patsy Cline was the first female country music star to headline her own show and receive billing above the male stars with whom she toured. She was not a singer simply backed by a band, but rather a leader who directed her bands instead.
Listen here to learn more about Patsy Cline
Elizabeth Cotten built her musical legacy on a firm foundation of late 19th and early 20th century traditional African-American instrumentals. Through her songwriting, her low-key commanding personality, and her unique inverted left-handed guitar and banjo styles, she inspired and influenced generations of younger artists.
Listen here to learn more about Elizabeth Cotten
Ani DiFranco has been in control of her career from the earlies days. She is a maverick whose music defies genre and description, but identifies with the truest spirit of folk music. She formed a record label when she was 19, (Righteous Babe), and released her first album when she was 20. Since then DiFranco has grown a fierce following of fans and continues to to record and tour.
Listen here to learn more about Ani DiFranco
Aretha Franklin is the benchmark soul singer of the 1960's, as well as one of the most influential pop singers of the 20th century. Franklin fused the gospel music she grew up singing in church, with the sensuality of R & B, the innovation of jazz, and the precision of pop.
Listen here to learn more about Aretha Franklin
"There's freedom in knowing that you don't have to know it all", Mary Gauthier says, "which is why to me, a song should end with a question, not an answer." It might seem that after six groundbreaking ablums of original songs, more than a dozen years of recording and touring around the world, a clutch of music industry awards and covers of her songs by a roster of great artists, that Mary Gauthier is one that has a handle on some of the big answers.
Listen here to learn more about Mary Gauthier
Rhiannon Giddens is a musician with roots that run deep through the foundation of American culture. She is known as the lead singer, violinist, banjo player and founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops. She is a native of Greensboro, NC and a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory where she studied opera.
Listen here to learn more about Rhiannon Giddens.
Mahalia Jackson reigned as a pioneer interpreter of gospel music, whose fervent contralto was on of the great voices of the century. She became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world, and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist.
Listen here to learn more about Mahalia Jackson
Janis Joplin was the most acclaimed blues-influenced rock star of the late 1960's, and certainly one of the biggest female rock stars of her time. She brought her powerful voice and blues from Texas to San Francisco's psychedelic scene, rising from nobody to superstar. She has been called the greatest white urban blues and soul singer of her generation.
Listen here to learn more about Janis Joplin
In a way, singer/songwriter Carole King has had two careers of outstanding achievement. Throughout the 1960's she was one of pop's most prolific songwriters, writing the music to songs like the Shirellles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and the Drifters "Up On the Roof", with most lyrics by her then husband, Gerry Goffin. In 1971, her album Tapestry sold millions of copies, helping to popularize the 1970's pop-rock, singer/songwriter genre.
Listen here to learn more about Carole King
Alison Krauss has enjoyed no shortage of accolades in her career. She has released 14 albums and as of 2012 received 20 Grammy Awards. She helped bring bluegrass to a new audience in the 90's, blending bluegrass with folk. Krauss was instantly acclaimed from the start of her career, but it wasn't until the release of her album "Now That I've Found You", that she became a mainstream star.
Listen here to learn more about Alison Krauss
Country singer and songwriter Loretta Lynn, grew up in the remote, poverty stricken town of Butcher "Holler" Kentucky. Her career established her as one of the most direct, honest and unapologetic country songwriters of her generation, often writing of her personal struggles as a wife and mother. Lynn wrote the song "Coal Miners Daughter", and then went on to pen a book of the same name, which was later made into a major motion picture starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta and Tommy Lee Jones as her husband.
Listen here to learn more about Loretta Lynn
For nearly three decades, blues musician Memphis Minnie's songwriting and perfomances thrived in a genre dominated by men. She more than held her own as a guitar player, often emerging as the victor in so-called "cutting contests", (impromptu challenges of skill), against some of the most notable players of the era, including Big Bill Broonzy.
Listen here to learn more about Memphis Minnie
Singer/Songwriter Joni Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson in Fort Macleod, Canada. At the age of nine, Mitchell contracted Polio, and it was during her recovery in the hospital that she began performing and singing to patients, late going on to teach herself guitar.
Listen here to learn more about Joni Mitchell
Dolly Parton is one of the most celebrated country artists of all time. Her light soprano and songs about old-time virtues made her a major country star in the early 1970's, and since then she has won pop audiences and become a household name with songs such as "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You". Her playful, self-deprecating comments about her blond bombshell image, a self-titled theme park, television variety shows, and several successful films helped cement Parton's status as a singulary American superstar.
Listen here to learn more about Dolly Parton
When Bonnie Raitt's first album came out in the early 1970's, it seemed destined that she was headed for stardom. Instead, she was held to cult-level status for the bulk of her first two decades of work, despite having made strides to herald a new generation of talented blues players while breaking new ground for women artists.
Listen here to learn more about Bonnie Raitt.
Of all the major singers of the twentieth century, Nina Simone might have been one of the hardest to classify. Her style as a musician ranged from blues to jazz, classical to pop, soul to folk, and Broadway. She was an honest, captivating, and feisty performer, often feuding with audiences and promoters alike. She was a major voice of the Civil Rights Movement as well.
Listen here to learn more about Nina Simone
Bessie Smith's life began with heartbreak, hardship and loss. Born in Chatanooga, TN, one of seven children who's parents would die by the time she was 8. As a teenager, Bessie supplemented her siblings income by singing in the streets with her brother, Andrew, accompanying her on guitar. It was through notoriety gained at this time that Bessie was able to meet Ma Rainey, who became her mentor.
Listen here to learn more about Bessie Smith
One of the most distinctive blue-eyed soul vocalists to record, Dusty Springfield was gifted with a husky, sensual voice that was cool, spohisticated, and passionate. Her career covered adult pop, Memphis R & B and Motown style soul. Springfield forcefully asserted herself as an artist and personality at a time when women were generally not given much leeway in the music industry. In 1964 she became Britain's most popular female vocalist and her popularity proved durable, as she enjoyed hits in four successive decades.
Mavis Staples will doubtlessly go down in history as one of the greatest gospel singers of all time., the breathtaking voice powering one of America's great family bands, "The Staple Singers". From the traditional gospel music of the 1950's to the 1960's protest songs that underscored some of the decades most dramatic social changes, from the self-empowerment anthems of the 1970's t the soulful love tunes and mature Americana of more recent years, Staples and her family have consistently created some of the best and most inspirational music of the past half century.
Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel musics' first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label, and an early crossover artist from gospel to secular music.
Big Mama Thornton was a direct descendant of such classic blues singers as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and especially Memphis Minnie. Known for her tough demeanor as well as her stocky frame and powerful boice, she dressed in men's clothing and drank heavily throughout her adult life. Her influence on blues singers to this day is as big as she was.
Listen here to learn more about Big Mama Thornton.
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, TN. She was raised by her grandmother until the early 1950's, and then reunited with her mother in St. Louis Missouri. It was there she met rock and roll pioneer Ike Turner, which changed her life forever.
Listen here to learn more about Tina Turner
The daughter of a poet father, who was both college professor and Hank Williams zealot, Williams grew up listening to classic country. She was born in Louisiana, but her family relocated several times during her childhood. As an adult, relocating to Los Angeles in the mid 80's proved to be a struggle. No one quite knew what to make of her songs, labeling them "too rock for country" and "too country for rock".
Listen here to learn more about Lucinda Williams
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