(Originally posted March 30, 2016.)
Throughout modern history, women have made significant contributions to music in every genre, be it R&B, pop, rock, country, disco, rap/hip-hop, gospel, opera, electronic, reggae, funk…you name it.
With March being Women’s History Month, what better time is there than now to shine the spotlight on those who’ve had the most impact in music over the years.
With that in mind, I’ve created the countdown of countdowns, the 100 Greatest Women in Music for the Past 50 Years.
This special djroblist is one for the ages. It is about as diverse a list as you’ll see of this type (believe me, I scoured the Internet to back up that claim). Women from many generations and various genres are represented here.
As with nearly every Internet list, there are a few caveats I must cover.
First, this is a secular music list. So the many artists who are exclusively gospel or Christian musicians are not represented here. That’s not to say their contributions over the past five decades haven’t been notable – quite the contrary. Groundbreaking artists like Tramaine Hawkins, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Albertina Walker and, of course, Mahalia Jackson certainly deserve praise for all they’ve done for gospel and to inspire others.
But, in the final analysis, the playing field was an uneven one for gospel singers. Over the years and even still today, many of the metrics that benefit mainstream musicians (like massive sales, widespread exposure through radio airplay, video channels and streaming) place gospel artists at a comparative disadvantage.
Also, this list is a tribute to individual accomplishments, so you won’t see any groups like TLC, Dixie Chicks, En Vogue, Salt-n-Pepa, Destiny’s Child, Pointer Sisters, Sister Sledge or the Supremes listed.
However, their members may be listed if they had noteworthy or significant roles in the group’s success or if they also had qualifying solo success (e.g., Diana Ross, Stevie Nicks, Beyoncé).
So how did I create this ranking?
I used some of the standard metrics, like chart positions, record sales, or numbers of hits…along with career longevity.
Also, more subjective factors like innovation, creativity and artistry came into play. Artists who’ve been recognized by credible music industry authorities (like Billboard or Rolling Stone magazines, or various halls of fame), awards committees (like the Grammys, BET) and music critics likely fared better than others, even if their sales and overall popularity would suggest otherwise.
Also, the list gives more credence to an artist’s prime years, with little or no detraction for the inevitable decline that occurs. Obviously, singers whose prime years lasted longer have an advantage over others.
But most importantly, the list is influenced by opinion – both mine and yours. Any Internet list of singers, particularly one that ranks women, is bound to create some controversy. I don’t expect this to be any different.
So feel free to vote and/or comment on them as you read it.
Now, without further ado, I’ll let the women tell it…
Here are the 100 Women with the Greatest Impact on Music over the Past 50 Years!
When Frank Sinatra, Jr. died earlier this month (March 2016), I had to admit I had no idea that Frank Sinatra even had a son with his namesake. He went unnoticed by many of my friends as well. Not the same could be said for sister Nancy, who emerged from under her dad's immense shadow in the mid-1960s with a string of big pop hits, including two #1s: the iconic "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and "Something Stupid," a 1967 duet with her father. "Boots" alone (click above) might have been enough to secure Nancy a spot on this list.