Photo Credit: Amie Kingswell Photography
There were too many women I could’ve picked, so I went with the band I’d seen most recently: Wolf Alice. Now that live music is back and bands are on tour again, I was lucky enough to see one of the best modern British rock bands play in London earlier this month. Ellie Rowsell (note: there is nobody called Alice in the band) is the epitome of a frontperson. She commands the stage with assuredness – but it’s also clear she’s having fun. The band as a whole have come a long way in three albums, in no small part down to Ellie’s songwriting skills. With each record, she puts herself out there a little more, tries something new and usually pulls it off, balancing hard-hitting bangers with the occasional softer folk song or ballad. And that’s before we get onto her vocals! As able to evoke tenderness with a gentle whisper as she is scream a rallying cry – it’s all there to hear, and it’s what makes the songs so special.
Coral Williamson, Communications Manager
It’s hard to have not heard the new Adele album recently, and our house is no different. The Cambridge Audio hi-fi setup we have is so good, it can even penetrate the closed door to my office, but that said, I’m not all that mad about it. Offering up an abundance of tracks that signify her sound, such as tear-jerking lead single ‘Easy On Me’ and the funk-infused ‘Oh My God’. It’s another masterpiece, written direct from the heart of one of the world’s biggest female music stars.
Adele is – and has always been – unashamedly herself. She’s never felt the need to change her accent, or her personality, and she’s made it abundant clear in her award speeches over the years how proud she is of being a woman in the industry. She’s been a voice for so many and is a role model for young girls both in music and on the outside.
Vince Wade, Sales Director
There have been a multitude of women whose music has left a huge impact on my life over the years, from the girl power of the Spice Girls aged six, to the edginess of Avril Lavigne as a teen. Even in the present day, you’ve got the likes of Lauren Mayberry, Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift doing remarkable things to shake up the industry with their music. But there’s one woman that came into my life kicking and screaming, surrounded by heavy guitars and a male-dominated alternative scene who, quite frankly, is responsible for shaping me into who I am today.
Hayley Williams. Vocalist of iconic emo powerhouse Paramore and now solo artist in her own right, she was the figurehead I – and so many adolescent girls – needed when we were trying to ‘fit in’. She showed us that it was okay to express yourself however you wanted, through fashion, music or hair colour. That it was possible to take on the men at their own game, to stand up for yourself when people tried to drag you down and that it’s okay to be vulnerable, even when the entire world knows about your personal life. Pain makes the best albums, right? So, here’s to you Hayley. Not only have you soundtracked an entire generation with emotionally-driven, poignant anthems, but you’ve allowed me to blossom into someone I’m incredibly proud to be today. Even if I am struggling to get the pink hair dye you’ve created out of my hair right now…
Tamsyn Wilce, Digital Marketing Executive
Joni Mitchell is one of my favourite artists of all time. She was leaps and bounds ahead of her contemporaries and I still don’t feel she gets the recognition she deserves. An extremely talented singer, pianist, and songwriter with multiple classics under her belt. Here’s where I get controversial, though. If you were to ask me what I believe to be Joni Mitchell’s best album, or what my personal favourite is, I would answer Hejira!
Joseph Buechel, Customer Support and Retailer Training - US
Sherelle is a DJ, producer, and label owner spearheading a renaissance of high-tempo dance music. Her commitment to everything 160BPM and above is mirrored in her dedication to amplifying marginalised voices within dance scenes, and drawing attention to the Queer, Black origins of the music involved, which can often be overlooked by so many. Following on from years of hard work, countless radio shows, and high-energy performances, it’s a joy to see the continued success of everything that Sherelle touches. From her current Phonox residency, to her latest venture ‘Beautiful’, she is a huge inspiration dedicated to changing dance music for the better.
Sam Edwards, Customer Support Agent
This was a really difficult decision, what with so many superb female artists in the industry. Some that deserve a mention include Mary J Blige, Teena Marie and Alicia Keys, but for now I’m going to focus on Keyshia Cole. Over the years she has produced an outstanding collection of work, with a great range of up-tempo songs such as, ‘Hey Sexy’ and ‘Get it Right’ from the Woman to Woman album. Then there’s ‘Heaven Sent’ on her album Just Like You and ‘Long Way Down’ from Calling All Hearts. Her music is thoughtful and gives a sense of a woman’s strength to overcome anything that comes her way. Just a truly great artist.
Jim James, Regional Trade Marketing Manager
Courtney Barnett is one of my favourites. She's somehow able to take the mundane and make it meaningful. She sings in a deadpan style, delivering a ton of dry wit. Listening to Courtney Barnett can feel as if you're just hanging out with her, which I love.
Matt Reilly, Head of Business Development - US
This International Women’s Day I want to show my appreciation for U.S. Girls. I was introduced to Meghan Remy's project by a friend of mine and ever since hearing them I've not been able to get enough of the album In A Poem Unlimited. Remy's vocals are uniquely beautiful, particularly on the track 'Velvet 4 Sale'. That was the first song I heard by them, which cemented my love for the album because of its cool intro, (I'd have liked to avoid that adjective, but it really is a cool intro). It's also a great track to test earphones and speakers with. Additionally, I recommend the song 'Incidental Boogie' for when you're out for a stroll and need something to bob your head to.
Michael Laws, Project QA Tester
Anaïs Mitchell has been one of my favourite artists since I first heard ‘Young Man in America’ as a child. She is a genius with lyrics and never fails to pair them with gorgeous melodies; if you want something to tug on your heartstrings then put on ‘Shepherd’ or ‘Changer’, sit back and let it wash over you. She has mastered the art of painting characters in song and pouring their emotion into your soul.
As a teenager, I got together with some friends and put on an adaptation of her folk-opera ‘Hadestown’, which is now on Broadway (and you should definitely go see it if you get a chance) – a beautiful story that explores the cyclic nature of life and love and reminds us that the sun will always rise again, that spring will always follow winter.
She has recently released a new, self-titled album which has once again hit home and found its place among my favourites – perfect for staring out of a train window at the rain or snuggling up in an armchair with a blanket, cat(s), book, and a pot of tea. Check it out!
Charlie Crossley, Electronics Engineer
Lotte is an artist I discovered in lockdown. I was looking for some live music after being deprived of it for so long and I stumbled upon a YouTube channel with some well recorded live performances.
Lotte was the artist who really stood out to me, with her song ‘Schau Mich Nicht So An’. It’s really catchy and the live performances of it were hauntingly good. The album the song features on is called Glück and it’s fantastic. Well produced with loads of great tracks. The best thing about it, is it provided me with a jumping off point to search for more German artists. I’d really recommend giving the record a spin, especially if you don’t listen to a lot of music outside of the English language, you might just find something new you like.
Alex Harrison, E-Commerce Marketplace Coordinator
In what feels like another life, I had the surprise and honour to be invited to support one of the UK’s most respected and probably least well-known singer-songwriters, Charlie Dore.
Some of you reading this may not know her name, but she has had quite an influence on the contemporary folk and pop scene, and many of her songs have been covered by the likes of Celine Dione, George Harrison, UB40, Status Quo, Paul Carrack, Lisa Stanfield and more.
Her first single, ‘Pilot of the Airwaves’, was a huge hit when it was released in 1978 and for me, still remains one of the most memorable songs of that era. Since then, she’s recorded eight albums, set up her own record label, performed in theatre, worked with comedy greats like Bill Bailey and Robin Williams, appeared in the film ‘Ploughman’s Lunch’ and she’s been nominated for - and won - numerous awards.
Her songs are clever, witty, pensive, moving and she somehow seems to elicit an emotional response - even in songs which you don’t expect. On top of that, she’s a lovely and genuine woman. My life is a little richer for meeting her and sharing some of her great songs on stage when we performed together at the Stables Jazz Venue in Milton Keynes.
Graham Knowles, Customer Support – Germany
Sonic Boom Six are a band that has been with me for a while now. I first came across them at a local gig probably 18 years ago. Their music packs a punch and crosses so many boundaries and genres. They’ve also worked incredibly hard over the years to promote a message of equality and diversity through their music, which is admirable.
Laila, who fronts the band, is a powerhouse vocalist and absolutely defines their sound. She’s always been quite outspoken about her journey fronting a punk/ska/hip hop band, from the days of playing community centers to travelling across the States as part of Vans Warped Tour and how it hasn't always been straightforward being a woman in those scenarios. On top of all that, she’s also the Artist & Relationship Manager at Nordoff Robbins, a charity that does amazing work with musical therapy. Proving that not only is she an inspiration on stage, but equally an inspiration through her work, bringing music into people’s lives in more ways than one.
Chris Saunders, Software Manager
During my junior year of college, I spent a couple hours a week hosting blocks on our school's internet radio station. Always looking to change my block up, I'd rent albums from the library that piqued my interest. It's there that I found Blues Pills, a Swedish rock band and a copy of their self-titled album released in 2014. I still remember popping that CD in for the first time.
I instantly fell in love with the fuzzy psychedelic riffs and ever powerful voice of Elin Larsson. I particularly adored the dichotomy in a lot of these songs, Elin's vocal shifts to emphasise each climatic moment and the simple but highly effective guitar licks interlaced in each track.
Their last album - Holy Moly! - was released in 2020 and the opening track and single for the album was appropriately released in March alongside International Women's Day. The track itself, ‘Proud Woman’, challenges gender discrimination and is a high energy anthem to equality movements of the past and present. Such a message fits so perfectly with the sound of the psychedelic rock era and the many advocate and protest groups that defined it.
Manny Almanza, Retailer and E-Commerce Support - US
It’s hard to sum Hannah Peel up in a few words, because she’s a true renaissance woman. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, broadcaster etc.
Born in Northern Ireland, Hannah grew up in Yorkshire – hence her accent and her introduction to performance via a brass band. She revisited her musical roots in her stunning Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia album, which blends brass instruments with vintage synths. This improbable combination just works, beautifully.
Hannah first came to attention of many through her Rebox reworkings of songs played with custom-made music boxes. Again, it seems unlikely – but sounds great, seek out her cover of ‘Tainted Love’ as a taster.
Every album she does is unique, never predictable. Be that exploring the power of music to combat Alzheimer’s, sound-tracking the poetry of Will Burns, reinterpreting the work of electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire and her latest project, working with the Paraorchestra.
Hannah’s a broadcaster too – check her Radio 3/BBC Sounds programme, Night Tracks. The electric mix of classical and electronica is the perfect working-from-home soundtrack. One of the most exciting things about Hannah Peel is finding out what she’s going to do next, whatever it is, it will sound unlike anything you’ve heard before.
David B, Marketing Consultant
You can listen to tracks from those featured above, plus many more, in our Women In Music playlist. Just choose your platform below.