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MUSL 3160 "Women and Rock Music" - Gunderman: Home

Selected Books:

Book cover with a black and white photograph of a woman playing electric guitar onstage.

The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era, 2nd ed.

In Britain during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new phenomenon emerged, with female guitarists, bass-players, keyboard-players and drummers playing in bands. Before this time, women's presence in rock bands, with a few notable exceptions, had always been as vocalists. This sudden influx of female musicians into the male domain of rock music was brought about partly by the enabling ethic of punk rock ('anybody can do it!') and partly by the impact of the Equal Opportunities Act. But just as suddenly as the phenomenon arrived, the interest in these musicians evaporated and other priorities became important to music audiences. Helen Reddington investigates the social and commercial reasons for how these women became lost from the rock music record, and rewrites this period in history in the context of other periods when female musicians have been visible in previously male environments. Reddington draws on her own experience as bass-player in a punk band, thereby contributing a fresh perspective on the socio-political context of the punk scene and its relationship with the media. The book also features a wealth of original interview material with key protagonists, including the late John Peel, Geoff Travis, The Raincoats and the Poison Girls.

Book cover with a photograph of a Black woman with long hair singing onstage.

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

African American women have played a pivotal part in rock and roll--from laying its foundations and singing chart-topping hits to influencing some of the genre's most iconic acts. Despite this, black women's importance to the music's history has been diminished by narratives of rock as a mostly white male enterprise. In Black Diamond Queens, Maureen Mahon draws on recordings, press coverage, archival materials, and interviews to document the history of African American women in rock and roll between the 1950s and the 1980s. Mahon details the musical contributions and cultural impact of Big Mama Thornton, LaVern Baker, Betty Davis, Tina Turner, Merry Clayton, Labelle, the Shirelles, and others, demonstrating how dominant views of gender, race, sexuality, and genre affected their careers. By uncovering this hidden history of black women in rock and roll, Mahon reveals a powerful sonic legacy that continues to reverberate into the twenty-first century.

Book cover with a black and white photograph of Hersh holding one of her sons in her arms.

Seeing Sideways: A Memoir of Music and Motherhood

Doony, Ryder, Wyatt, Bodhi. The names of Kristin Hersh's sons are the only ones included in her new memoir, Seeing Sideways. As the book unfolds and her sons' voices rise from its pages, it becomes clear why: these names tell the story of her life. This story begins in 1990, when Hersh is the leader of the indie rock group Throwing Muses, touring steadily, and the mother of a young son, Doony. The chapters that follow reveal a woman and mother whose life and career grow and change with each of her sons: the story of a custody battle for Doony is told alongside that of Hersh's struggles with her record company and the resulting PTSD; the tale of breaking free from her record label stands in counterpoint to her recounting of her pregnancy with Ryder; a period of writer's block coincides with the development of Wyatt as an artist and the family's loss of their home; and finally, soon after Bodhi's arrival, Hersh and her boys face crises from which only strange angels can save them. Punctuated with her own song lyrics, Seeing Sideways is a memoir about a life strange enough to be fiction, but so raw and moving that it can only be real.

Book cover with a photograph of a woman conducting an ensemble onstage.

The Cambridge Companion to Women in Music Since 1900

This Companion explores women's work in music since 1900 across a broad range of musical genres and professions, including the classical tradition, popular music, and music technology. The crucial contribution of women to music education and the music industries features alongside their activity as composers and performers. The book considers the gendered nature of the musical profession, in areas including access to training, gendered criticism, sexualization, and notions of 'gender appropriate' roles or instruments. It covers a wide range of women musicians, such as Marin Alsop,  Grace Williams, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell and Adele. Each thematic section concludes with a contribution from a practitioner in her own words, reflecting upon the impact of gender on her own career. Chapters include suggestions for further reading on each of the topics covered, providing an invaluable resource for students of Feminist Musicology, Women in Music, and Music and Gender.

Black book cover with the title word

Fangirls: Scenes from Modern Music Culture

"To be a fan is to scream alone together." This is the discovery Hannah Ewens makes in Fangirls: how music fandom is at once a journey of self-definition and a conduit for connection and camaraderie; how it is both complicated and empowering; and how now, more than ever, fandoms composed of girls and young queer people create cultures that shape and change an entire industry. This book is about what it means to be a fangirl. Speaking to hundreds of fans from the UK, US, Europe, and Japan, Ewens tells the story of music fandom using its own voices, recounting previously untold or glossed-over scenes from modern pop and rock music history. In doing so, she uncovers the importance of fan devotion: how Ariana Grande represents both tragedy and resilience to her followers, or what it means to meet an artist like Lady Gaga in person. From One Directioners, to members of the Beyhive, to the author's own fandom experiences, this book reclaims the "fangirl" label for its young members, celebrating their purpose, their power, and, most of all, their passion for the music they love.

Book cover with a black and white photograph of Black performers onstage. Three performers are singers, one plays a guitar.

Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation

Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation is a collection of twenty-one essays by leading scholars, surveying vital themes in the history of African American music. Bringing together the viewpoints of ethnomusicologists, historians, and performers, these essays cover topics including the music industry, women and gender, and music as resistance, and explore the stories of music creators and their communities. Revised and expanded to reflect the latest scholarship, with six all-new essays, this book both complements the previously published volume African American Music: An Introduction and stands on its own. Each chapter features a discography of recommended listening for further study. From the antebellum period to the present, and from classical music to hip hop, this wide-ranging volume provides a nuanced introduction for students and anyone seeking to understand the history, social context, and cultural impact of African American music.

Book cover. There is a black and white photograph at the top showing a woman playing a drum set onstage.

Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country

In 1942, drummer Viola Smith sent shock waves through the jazz world by claiming in Down Beat magazine that "hep girls" could sit in on any jam session and hold their own. In Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country, Angela Smith takes Viola at her word, offering a comprehensive look at the world of professional drumming and the women who had the courage and chops to break the barriers of this all-too-male field. Combining archival research with personal interviews of more than fifty female drummers representing more than eight decades in music history, Smith paints a vivid picture of their struggles to overcome discrimination--not only as professional musicians but in other parts of their lives. Women Drummers outlines the evolution of female drumming from pre-biblical times when women held important leadership roles to their silencing by the church during the Middle Ages to spearheading the fight for women's rights in the modern era. The stories and personal accounts of female drummers who bucked tradition and societal norms are told against the backdrop of the times in which they performed and the genres they represented, from rock and jazz to blues and country. Although women have proven time and time again that they can more than hold their own against their male counterparts, female drummers not only remain a minority, but their contributions have been obscured by the traditional chauvinistic attitudes in the music business and gender stereotypes that surround the drum itself as a "male" instrument. Women Drummers takes a major step forward in undoing this misconception by acknowledging the talent, contribution, and growing power of women drummers in today's music environment.

Women Singer-Songwriters in Rock: A Populist Rebellion in the 1990s

In Women Singer-Songwriters in Rock: A Populist Rebellion in the 1990s, Ronald D. Lankford Jr. argues that women singer-songwriters formed a substantial movement within popular music during the 1990s, making a significant social and aesthetic contribution that pushed feminism into mainstream American culture. Lankford examines in depth the work of several artists_including Alanis Morissette, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Courtney Love, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, and Sheryl Crow_offering thorough descriptions and analyses of their music, lyrics, and album art. By looking at both the broader movement and individual performers, this book provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of the movement and its message. Lankford introduces the singer-songwriter movement and the artists and genres that paved the way for these 1990s rockers, establishing the arch of the popular movement of women in rock as it mirrored the rise of third wave feminism and sketching the cultural and political landscape that served as a backdrop to the women's singer-songwriter movement during the 1990s. Drawing from resources in books, journals, and zines, Lankford focuses on the exploration of women's issues within the music through analyses of its lyrics and album art and examines how the often hard-edged feminist content was able to filter into mainstream popular culture. To help illustrate this, the book includes a select discography of albums and singles, including their placement and number of weeks spent on various charts. A complete bibliography and index round out this important study, which is a must for fans and scholars of music, popular culture, and women's studies.

Book cover with an illustration of a white guitar with the female symbol as the sound hole.

Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music

With a foreword by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards Girls Rock! explores the many ways women have defined themselves as rock musicians in an industry once dominated and controlled by men. Integrating history, feminist analysis, and developmental theory, the authors describe how and why women have become rock musicians -- what inspires them to play and perform, how they write, what their music means to them, and what they hope their music means to listeners. As these musicians tell their stories, topics emerge that illuminate broader trends in rock's history. From Wanda Jackson's revolutionary act of picking up a guitar to the current success of independent artists such as Ani DiFranco, Girls Rock! examines the shared threads of these performers' lives and the evolution of women's roles in rock music since its beginnings in the 1950s. This provocative investigation of women in rock is based on numerous interviews with a broad spectrum of women performers -- those who have achieved fame and those just starting bands, those playing at local coffeehouses and those selling out huge arenas. Girls Rock! celebrates what female musicians have to teach about their experiences as women, artists, and rock musicians.

Book cover with a color photograph of a Black woman singing onstage.

Women Icons of Popular Music

Popular music owes greatly to the spirit of rebellion. In all of its diversified, experimental, modern-day micro-genres, music's roots were first watered by good old-fashioned social dissension- its incendiary heights pushed heavenward by radicals and rogue revolutionaries. And perhaps none are more influential and non-conformist than women. Always first in line to give convention a sound thrashing, women in music have penned sonic masterpieces, championed sweeping social movements, and breathed life into sounds yet unimagined. Today's guitar-wielding heroines continue to blaze the trail, tapping reservoirs and soundscapes still unknown to their male counterparts- hell hath no fury like a woman with an amplifier. Women Icons of Popular Music puts the limelight on 24 legendary artists who challenged the status quo and dramatically expanded the possibilities of women in the highly competitive music world. Using critical acclaim and artistic integrity as benchmarks of success, this can't-put-down resource features rich biographical and musical analyses of a diverse array of musicians from country, pop, rock, R&B, soul, indie, and hip-hop. It goes beyond the shorter, less detailed biographical information found in many women in rock compendiums by giving readers a more in-depth understanding of these artists as individuals, as well as providing a larger context-social, musical, political, and personal-for their success and legacy. Highlighted in sidebars throughout are related trends, movements, events, and issues to give readers a broad perspective of the defining moments in music and pop culture history. With discographies, illustrations, and a print and electronic resource guide, Women Icons of Popular Music is a rousing, insightful resource for students and music fans alike.

Book cover with colorful abstract shapes.

Women in the Studio: Creativity, Control and Gender in Popular Music Production

The field of popular music production is overwhelmingly male dominated. Here, Paula Wolfe discusses gendered notions of creativity and examines the significant under-representation of women in studio production. Wolfe brings an invaluable perspective as both a working artist-producer and as a scholar, thereby offering a new body of research based on interviews and first-hand observation. Wolfe demonstrates that patriarchal frameworks continue to form the backbone of the music industry establishment but that women's work in the creation and control of sound presents a potent challenge to gender stereotyping, marginalisation and containment of women's achievements that is still in evidence in music marketing practices and media representation in the digital era.

Book cover with black and white photograph of a woman singing onstage.

"Rock On:" Women, Ageing and Popular Music

For female pop stars, whose star bodies and star performances are undisputedly the objects of a sexualized external gaze, the process of ageing in public poses particular challenges. Taking a broadly feminist perspective, 'Rock On': Women, Ageing and Popular Music shifts popular music studies in a new direction. Focussing on British, American and Latina women performers and ageing, the collection investigates the cultural work performed by artists such as Shirley Bassey, Madonna, Celia Cruz, Courtney Love, Annie Lennox and Lady Gaga.

Book cover with colorful abstract imagery.

Singing for Themselves: Essays on Women in Popular Music

Singing for Themselves: Essays on Women in Popular Music is a fresh look at a topic that has attracted increasing interest in recent years. In this collection, scholars from a number of disciplines look at various artists and movements and come to some new conclusions about the ways in which female artists have contributed to the past four decades of pop, rock, blues and punk. From new looks at major artists Etta James, Laura Nyro and Patti Smith to later figures Ferron, Bjork, and Melissa Etheridge, these chapters suggest new ways to view-and hear-music that is already part of our culture. Essays on the Indigo Girls, Dixie Chicks and Destiny's Child prove that the girl-groups tradition is alive and well, but with additional new dimensions, and a three-essay section on Joan Jett and the Riot Grrrls phenomenon sheds new light on their implications for feminist artistic expression. The final piece, an annotated bibliography of academic writing on women in rock, helps make this collection a useful addition to the library of students of popular music, while the solid research and accessibility of the text make this a good choice for the general reader as well as the seasoned scholar. If you think that adoration of certain pop music is a guilty pleasure, not worthy of higher intellectual aspirations, then Singing For Themselves offers absolution. It's far from trivial to ponder the Tao of Canadian singer Ferron, the classical allusions of Laura Nyro's lyrics, the postfeminist booty-shaking of Destiny's Child, or the historical milieu that turned Jamesetta Hawkins into blues great Etta James. Reading these essays made me want to go right back to the music - feeling wiser, yes, but also validated in the desire to go as deep as any song or singer can take me. Michele Kort, author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro, and senior editor at Ms. magazine I've read Singing for Themselves: Essays on Women in Popular Music, and am happy to provide an endorsement. Singing for Themselves is a consistently interesting collection of new essays on women and popular music. The collection is all the more welcome for being so current. It mixes essays on recent phenomena (such as electronic/punk group Le Tigre and the Dixie Chicks' stirring of political controversy) with new perspectives on canonical figures like Patti Smith or Etta James. The essays gathered here are written with clear commitments, but all are marked by care and scholarly rigour. I found the interdisciplinary breadth of Singing for Themselves refreshing; new avenues for research are opened up here, and new theoretical paradigms are explored. Will Straw, PhD, Acting Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies Opening this book was like opening the door onto a surprise party. Everyone I've ever wanted to meet was in there, including myself! Ferron

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