Although we often celebrate the many successes that women have achieved in different areas from music, science and even politics, we took the opportunity for Women’s History Month to highlight some of the most talented female songwriters in the industry! From legends such as Dolly Parton to the underrated, yet equally talented writers who have penned recent hits, we delve into the brilliant minds of some of our favorite songwriters who we look to for inspiration and take some time to recognize their accomplishments.
It is only appropriate to start our list with no other than singer and songwriting country star, Dolly Parton, who in her career had delivered dozens upon dozens of hits for herself as well as other singers. Parton mentioned how she has easily written close to 3,000 songs ever since she had started writing when she was a child. Parton has delivered a multitude of hit songs from her own, such as “Jolene”, “9 to 5” and “Coat of Many Colors” to one of the most easily recognizable songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You” (performed by Whitney Houston), Parton’s undeniable talent earned her way into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 as well as receiving many awards through out her career, including 11 Country Music Awards.
Co-writing 118 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, Carole King had cemented herself as the most successful singer/songwriter of the last half of the 20th century. Through her career she has written for multiple artists, from Aretha Franklin (“You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”) to The Beatles ("Chains"). She has also released 25 solo albums including the successful Tapestry, featuring her hit single "You've Got A Friend", which catapulted her career to successful heights. King has earned four Grammy awards and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Throughout the span of her career, English singer/songwriter Kate Bush had released 10 albums, including 25 singles that found their place in the Top 40. Her debut single and one of her most popular songs, “Wuthering Heights” had reached the British Charts for four weeks straight back in 1978, introducing the world to her incredible talent in writing. Bush had won several awards including the “Ivor Novello” Award for her contributions to British music. Popular singers from PJ Harvey to Florence Welch have credited Bush as an impactful influence in their music as well. Though not having released any new material recently, Bush has already made her mark in music with her undeniable talent and influence on artists after her.
Though her career was cut short due to her tragic death in 2011, London-born singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse took the world by surprise with her unique voice and sound. Mixing R&B, Jazz and Pop, her distinct style made her one of the most easily recognizable and popular singers, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Her witty, punchy lyrics laced with her sultry vocals often entailed stories of love in different aspects such as her song “Stronger Than Me”, which received the “Ivor Novello Award” from the British Academy of Songwriters for Best Contemporary Song. She also won an astounding 5 Grammy awards and 2 Brit Awards for her sophomore release, Back to Black. Winehouse paved the way for unconventional singers with fearless experimentation to be allowed a chance for mainstream success. From Adele and Lana Del Rey to Florence Welch, several of today's singer-songwriters known for their uniquely raw approach to their musical craft, mentioned how Winehouse’s music was a big influence on their work. Despite her unfortunate passing, her legacy will always live on and will never be forgotten.
Pairing her powerhouse vocals with the most eloquent, poetic lyrics to greet our ears, singer/songwriter Florence Welch, (from Florence & The Machine), has proven herself to be an unstoppable, beautiful force in music. Her thunderous songs, booming with emotions from personal conflicts to love, earned the band critical acclaim and worldwide praise. Her most recent effort with her band, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, earned five Grammy Award Nominations, with its journey of heartbreak through biblical metaphors and elegant instrumentation. Online magazine, Consequence of Sound, stated "it's apparent she's among her generation's most deserving superstars, maintaining a stunning balance of technical mastery and sensitive lyricism." Welch’s writing style is unmatched by her contemporaries, pulling the listener into a polarizing trance they never want to leave.
Although only being in the early stages of her career with just two albums out (so far), singer/songwriter Charli XCX has made an incredible impact in the music world across different genres. Since the immediate response of her songs “I Love It” (performed by Icona Pop) and the summer hit of 2013, “Fancy” (with Iggy Azalea), the young singer/songwriter has since been one of the most 'in-demand' writers in the music industry. She has recently delivered other Billboard hits such as “Same Old Love” (performed by Selena Gomez) as well as her own songs such as the infectious "Boom Clap", which hit top ten on iTunes. There's never a dull moment in the glittering pop star's world, and time will tell with her upcoming third album release later this year what other potential gems the 24-year old singer has in store for us.
Singer/Songwriter Teddy Sinclair has been writing songs for her own solo albums for quite a few years now, including her most recent release under her new band name “Cruel Youth”. But since recently writing for bigger artists, she has proved that whatever she writes, turns to gold; or platinum we should say, in regards to her co-writing credit on Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better”, which had earned a platinum certification as well as a Grammy nomination. She has also been praised by none other than the pop queen herself, Madonna, and helped co-write a track from Madonna’s most recent 2015 album release Rebel Heart (“Holy Water”). Her ability to string words together like pearls to form the most beautiful necklaces of songs, often regarding the darkest time's in her life, is unmatched. Although not as greatly appreciated as she deserves, Sinclair has clearly shown that she has the potential to soar to greater heights in the future, and we don’t doubt that she most certainly will.
Being one of the most easily recognizable and successful songwriters of the past decade, we couldn’t possibly write this article without mentioning Sia. Spanning a career since the early 90’s, the songwriter had started out as a singer. After the wide success of her album We Are Born, the singer had decided then to retire at the time and focus on songwriting for other artists. Songs such as “Titanium” with David Guetta had reached the top of music charts worldwide and the songwriter began co-writing many songs for big artists from Beyonce ("Pretty Hurts") to Rihanna's top ten hit "Diamonds". Her collaboration with hip hop artist Flo-Rida “Wild Ones” reached the top of the charts as well in America along with a few other countries. Since then the songwriter has been enjoying the praise from her recent efforts from 1,000 Forms Of Fear and her most recent album, This Is Acting, released in 2015.
Just one debut album is all that singer/songwriter Lorde needed to prove to be one of the most dynamic, poetically intriguing songwriters we have seen in a while. Only being sixteen years old during her album debut, Pure Heroine, the young singer impressed listeners as they were captivated by her distinct, dreamy alternative pop music and her lyrics, often revolving around themes of youth, teenage angst and romantic desires. Her unique writing style often dives deep into worlds of metaphors in an observation of the life around her. Four years since her debut, the singer has finally released a new single, “Green Light”, a euphoric break up anthem bursting with adrenaline, off her new album, Melodrama which is due out in June of this year.