When I think of the girl I want to be, I think of a girl who is a pensive and enigmatic coffee shop poet by day and a badass musical genius by night. I think of a head-banging, lyric-scribbling, motorcycle jacket-wearing goddess who pushes all boundaries and is fiercely and shamelessly true to herself. I guess the explanation for this ideal girl I have conjured up can be found in the women that inspire me. Music is a huge source of joy and inspiration for me, and I just wanted to share with you grrl punchers the prowess of the beautiful, powerful, and influential women in music that continually inspire me to be a stronger, more confident girl every day.
Lorde – Let’s start with the obvious. I don’t care if she’s “mainstream.” I don’t care if you think she’s weird. Lorde is a goddess. As a pessimistic freshman, I came to the conclusion that teenage girls seemed utterly useless to society, but obviously Lorde has proved me wrong. It depresses me to think about all of Lorde’s accomplishments she has made in her lifetime compared to mine, considering she’s a month younger than I am. She began writing songs when she was 14, and by the age of 17 (¡¡17 PEOPLE!!) she had two chart-topping singles and a Grammy nominated album. Plus, she’s already had my dream job of “curating” a movie soundtrack. Lorde has given me hope that teenage girls can, in fact, be the exact opposite of useless. Her lyrics have taught me that words don’t have to be long and complicated to be meaningful, and a 17 year old girl can have a lot to say. With enough passion and conviction, tennis courts and white teeth can carry a lot of weight. Check out this video of her performing at the AMAs and fearlessly being absolutely nothing but herself (she smudges her plum lipstick at the end *swoon*).
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – The first time I went to the Stax museum, I was utterly moved and tbh quite shocked by a 15 second video clip from the fifties that featured a black woman playing an intense electric guitar solo while standing in front of a gospel choir. In this moment, every rule I had learned about the South during the fifties was shattered: gospel was being mixed with “blasphemous” rock & roll music, and a black woman was the star of it all, rocking out on her guitar like Jimmy Page. I soon found that the amazing woman in this video was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Originally raised in the church as a devout gospel singer, Tharpe estranged herself from her family and community when she started singing blues music and playing that crazy, hooligan rock & roll guitar *wags finger like an old lady*. Not only did she successfully make a name for herself in a business where white males dominated, but she played the kind of music she wanted to play because dammit, THAT’S WHAT SHE LOVED. Sister Rosetta inspires me not only for her talent, but for her unwavering bravery and dedication to her passion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeaBNAXfHfQ (1:20 = awesome guitar solo)
M.I.A. – M.I.A was born to break the rules. She spent the first eleven years of her life living in Sri Lanka in the midst of a civil war where she was forced to dodge bullets and constantly move around. Although her childhood was riddles with poverty and unrest, she managed to go to an art school to pursue what she loves. I admire her lyrics because she believes that all art should mean something and reflect the brutal reality that most people avoid thinking about. In her songs, she has explored issues that desperately need to be addressed like immigration, war, and racism, and for this the US government has thanked her by repeatedly refusing to grant her a travel visa. Most importantly though, M.I.A is a perfect example of a citizen fighting for their right to artistic freedom. When she released her nine-minute film, Born Free, which tells the fictional story of a genocide of people with red hair, YouTube responded by refusing to post her video. Many believe that the film is a comment on the racial profiling sanctioned by Arizona’s immigration law or even recent incidents of police brutality. Above all, M.I.A doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything or anyone, and I love her for that.
Alison Mosshart – According to multiple interviews I’ve read, Alison is awkward, shy, and timid in an average social setting, but if you’ve seen any of her live performances you know that she transforms into a fierce rockstar, cigarette in hand, who seems like she’ll eat you alive. When music plays, she is literally possessed by it and becomes one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. Known for being the lead singer of the Kills, she sings about lonesome cities, jewel thieves, gypsies, and forgotten siblings. Not only is she admired for being an amazing singer and songwriter in her own right, but she has managed to make a name for herself while working among mostly males. In her band the Dead Weather, she even manages to outshine the biggest rock diva of all, Jack White. This video of their show at the Roxy is so badass that I’m seriously questioning wearing any color other than black for the remainder of my life.
Well, there you go Grrl Punchers! I could have written an entire novel about the multiple women I admire, but I hope that these four musical goddesses make you all feel little fiercer, a little more confident, and like an all-around rockstar!
~*~Keep it real~*~