Do you know what it’s really like for a woman? I co-wrote these words back in the year 2000 — lyrics from a semi-autobiographical song titled “Woman”*. A song that although was not a title track, turned out to be one of my most popular and beloved songs. A song that continues to resonate with my audience after almost twenty-three years. When Rolling Stone approached me about writing an editorial piece on women in music, an overwhelmingly broad and complex topic, I felt it fitting to start with lyrics from “Woman” — an anthem of sorts, that echoes the sentiments of women around the world, regardless of their chosen industry. It’s still as relevant today as the day it was written. Maybe even more so.
I can say in all honesty, I didn’t pay much attention to gender when I started out in the music business. Music was my happy place. It still is if truth be told. It was and will always be about the music for me, not the category of male or female. As artists, I believe it is our role to rise above the identity politics and dominant discourse of the day — to challenge and critique, to inspire reflection and change through our art. We can’t do this if we get caught up in the negative. Yes, it is true that women in music face their own unique set of challenges, but at the end of the day, don’t we all? Yes, our industry has its faults (that’s another article entirely), but we must not forget the trailblazing women in music who have gone before us, courageously paving the way for women of the future. Women like me and you. Positivity and resilience is the only way forward.
Some of the world’s most successful solo artists have been female, in fact, more than half of the top ten selling solo artists of all time ARE female. They are the WOMEN IN MUSIC! Let us honour them and follow their lead! Let’s not get caught up in the false narrative because every time we sink into the negative discourse, we fail to celebrate the accomplishments of these strong, independent women — a group of women with eclectic musical styles and diverse backgrounds before it was a thing.
“More than half of the top ten selling solo artists of all time ARE female.”
I grew up listening to the likes of Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Diana Ross, Annie Lennox, Kate Bush. The list goes on. It was an era of exceptional music and storytelling. It was an incredible gift to have such exceptional women in music to look up to. These trailblazing women in music inspired and empowered me to be the artist I am today. Thanks to their shining example, I never thought that my career trajectory might be limited by my gender. Not once. I believe that our only limit is our attitude. Let’s become the heroes of our own stories or as my song “Woman” says “Brave the fight, come home alive” and inspire your sisters to do the same.
Remember, art and music saves, which un-coincidentally is the theme of this Rolling Stone AU/NZ magazine. This edition celebrates the incredible female songbirds who continue to tell our stories of resilience and joy.
This Editor’s Letter features in the March 2023 issue of Rolling Stone AU/NZ. If you’re eager to get your hands on it, then now is the time to sign up for a subscription.
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*“Woman”. Written by Tina Arena, Trina Harmon, Tyler Hayes