10 Songs by Inspiring Women
From Nina Simone to Billie Eilish—these women are endlessly fierce.
While there has recently been a palpable shift in how the world views feminism, it isn't a new concept. Women's Marches were entirely different animals 100 years ago, there was often an element of danger, by spectators. Their struggle wasn't in vain, and now the women of today owe their lives and rights to those that came before us.
In the recent political climate, the reality of how much further we have to go has become evident. It is women like the ones in this list that empower others, and inspire change for equality.
If we stick together and lift each other up there is no limit to our strength. If you're ever in need of some uplifting, listen to these badass broads, and get inspired!
Santigold (formerly known as Santogold) is a songwriter, singer, and producer based out of Philadelphia.
Her debut album, Santogold, was well received around the world. She has a distinct sound and style—mostly dabbling in electronic, indie, reggae, and new wave.
This song and video is about one thing: girls. It showcases real, unfiltered women/girls, and a message for them not to "quit when [they] fall."
Pussy Riot is a feminist punk rock group from Russia. They touch on "risky" topics like LGBTQ rights, feminism, Vladimir Putin and religion.
They're considered so controversial in Russia that three of their members have been arrested and imprisoned for staging an impromptu performance in a Moscow cathedral. After their trial, there was a global outcry to "Free Pussy Riot." Which is why the line, "if your vagina lands in prison then the world is gonna listen" is pertinent.
Pussy Riot still makes waves in Russia, a country that has a long way to go in open-mindedness and inclusion, and seems to be an unstoppable force.
Kathryn Dawn Lang (known as K.D. Lang), is a Canadian singer/songwriter and an activist for human, animal, and gay rights.
Lang came out as a lesbian in 1992, and has since supported many causes, and inspired those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The song, "Constant Craving", is on numerous 90s music rosters and is a cornerstone of that era.
Eunice Kathleen Waymon (Nine Simone) was a prolific American singer/songwriter. She was also an activist for the civil rights movement in the 1960s, creating songs like "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" or "Four Women" to be specifically engineered as activist anthems.
The message in "Ain't Got No, I Got Life" is one of appreciation and strength—stating that even if you have no material wealth, you will always have your humanity and womanhood.
Destiny Frasqueri (Princess Nokia) is an American rapper, and active feminist based in New York City.
After losing her mother to AIDS at the age of 10, Frasqueri lived in abusive foster homes, until she was 16 years old, when she moved in with her grandmother. Since then she has been writing her own songs and putting out albums.
She has also developed the podcast "Smart Girl Club" with her two close friends Gia and Rafa. The podcast aims to inspire women of all variations to empower themselves and each other.
Her accomplishments so far have all been a tour de force and, as her moniker suggests, she appears to be indestructible.
Anohni is an English-born singer, artist and composer who now resides in New York City. Note: the woman in the video is not Anohni, it is British model Naomi Campbell.
Anohni is the second openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award—and she ended up boycotting the event. Saying that:
"They are going to try to convince us that they have our best interests at heart, by waving flags for identity politics, and fake moral issues. But don't forget that many of these celebrities are the trophies of billionaire corporations, whose only intention it is to manipulate you into giving them your consent, and the last of your money."
The song "Drone Bomb Me" is the first song on her debut solo studio album Helplessness (2016). It is a poignant reminder of the children who lived through war in Afghanistan, specifically, "a nine-year-old girl, whose family’s been killed by a drone bomb. [Who] is kind of looking up at the sky and she’s gotten herself to a place where she just wants to be killed by a drone bomb too."
This is a topic that isn't explored nearly enough in mainstream music, but is important to connect to and educate ourselves on.
Billie Eilish is a 17-year-old American singer/songwriter, based in California. Her debut song "Ocean Eyes" was written by her brother, Finneas, and came out when she was only 13.
The dark themes in her music set her apart from the rest, as she steps away from the usual overproduced vacuous pop, (which definitely has its time and place) and into a new form of the genre.
"You Should See Me In A Crown" exemplifies the blurred boundaries of femininity and masculinity that tend to bind others to one or the other. Eilish doesn't seem to put herself into any boxes and follows her creativity where ever it wants to go.
*Warning: if you are arachnophobic do not watch this video*
The Pack A.D. is a Canadian band that rocks in every sense of the word: from garage rock to indie, they will make you want to move your body.
The band consists of drummer Maya Miller and singer/guitarist Becky Black. At their live shows they're high energy and have the rare talent of good banter with the audience.
Jeanne Galice (Jain) is a singer/songwriter from Toulouse, France. Her style largely comes from practicing music in different countries: Pau, Middle East and the Congo.
"Makeba" is a reference to a singer/songerwriter named Miriam Makeba, who was a teenager in South Africa during the apartheid.
Jain's musical expertise gives her an edge that makes her truly unique.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba or "Mama Africa" was a South African singer/songwriter, actress, civil rights activist, and a UN goodwill ambassador.
She was exiled from her home country during the apartheid, and wasn't able to return until the 1990s—even when her mother passed away in the 1960s.
Makeba was a remarkable woman who did many incredible things; such as, testified to the UN Special Committee against apartheid, requested an arms embargo against South Africa, which got her music banned and herself exiled, beat breast cancer, was granted honorary citizenship in 10 countries, was involved in many black-centric political movements (Civil Rights, Black Power, Black Consciousness, etc.), survived an abusive relationship, became a successful musician globally, and collaborated with other musicians like Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie.
"Khawuleza" is explained further at the beginning of this video, and is a simple portrayal of how horrible the living conditions were for black people during the apartheid.
It goes to show how the strength and perseverance of one woman can change the shape of the world we live in.