glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Music: Women's  
page: 1  2  

Along with the developments among traditional women's music figures, many of whom were still recording, the early 1990s brought the Riot Grrl movement into existence. Riot Grrl, a youth-based feminist culture that first developed in west coast towns such as Olympia, Washington--a hotbed of independent music--laid claim to girl-produced 'zines and bands with an adamantly anti-corporate ethic.

Bands such as Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, and Bratmobile screamed lyrics that, along with the women who penned them, were unapologetically feminist and often ; they captured the spirit of true "girl power" long before the Spice Girls co-opted it.

Also in the 1990s, queercore became established as a movement linked to, yet distinct from, traditional punk rock; bands such as Tribe 8, Team Dresch, and The Need sang about overt dyke desire and attracted fans of punk who never felt entirely happy about the male-dominated mosh pits.

Mr. Lady records, run by video artist Tammy Rae Carland and musician Kaia Wilson (formerly of Team Dresch and currently vocalist/guitarist for the dyke trio The Butchies), was launched in 1996 to promote queer recording artists. Albums from Sarah Dougher, The Haggard, and Le Tigre, featuring Kathleen Hanna from the seminal Riot Grrl band Bikini Kill, have since been released. The company recently ended its operations.

On the folk-inspired front, the prolific and openly bisexual Ani DiFranco, with her folksinger-meets-punk-girl style, began playing at college campuses nationwide. In 1990, she started her own label called Righteous Babe Records, and began producing almost an album a year throughout the decade.

Out lesbian Melissa Ferrick incorporated a similar confessional style of songwriting, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, and developed a following as well. Both continue to promote current albums today.

The New Millennium and Beyond

Olivia Records became Olivia Cruises, a lesbian cruise company, some time ago; and Redwood ceased to exist in the early 1990s. But Lady Slipper is still in operation as both a distributor and a small record label, issuing albums from artists such as Kay Gardner, Ubaka Hill, and Rhiannon.

Holly Near recently released an album on her new label, Calico Tracks Records. And other record labels such as Kill Rock Stars, Chainsaw Records, and similar independents have picked up where Olivia and Redwood left off, though with a flair all their own.

Many old-school women's music artists such as Cris Williamson, Ferron, and Tret Fure are alive and well, making regular appearances at music festivals and producing new recordings. And new queercore groups like Tracy and the Plastics and the dyke-fronted The Gossip are emerging all the time, earning steady followings at live shows as well as praise in alternative publications.

In today's women's music there is often more room for the expression of third-wave feminist principles such as gender fluidity and raw sexuality, but the message is still a political one.

Crucial to women's music of both the old-school and the new is the visibility of feminism and lesbianism both within and outside the music industry.

Teresa Theophano

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  Music Festivals

A cultural institution among lesbians, women's music festivals are community-based events that celebrate women's space as much as women's music.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Popular

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons have had tremendous influence on popular music, though some musical genres have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others.

arts >> Christian, Meg

Women's music pioneer Meg Christian was among the first performer to address lesbian and feminist issues in her songs.

arts >> DiFranco, Ani

Openly bisexual singer Ani DiFranco, described as "the thinking person's acoustic punk feminist," has drawn on an eclectic mixture of musical traditions to create a distinctive style.

arts >> Dobkin, Alix

A lifelong progressive activist and a pioneer in women's music, Alix Dobkin not only helped create a new era of women's music in the 1970s but also paved the way for mainstsream lesbian musicians.

arts >> Etheridge, Melissa

Award-winning rock singer and songwriter Melissa Etheridge has not only managed to carve out a spectacularly successful career as a popular mainstream performer, but she has also become a lesbian icon and activist for gay and lesbian causes.

arts >> Ferron (Debby Foisy)

Canadian folksinger Ferron (Debby Foisy) is a pioneer in women's music who has been compared to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

arts >> Indigo Girls

One of the most successful folk/pop duos in recording history, Indigo Girls (consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) have earned the fierce loyalty of their fans, many of whom are lesbians.

arts >> Near, Holly

Activist, singer, and songwriter Holly Near has been a tremendous influence in the formation and promotion of the women's music movement.

arts >> Sweet Honey in the Rock

An ensemble of Black women singers who are also cultural and political activists, Sweet Honey in the Rock has embraced lesbianism as a life force and given it a voice.

arts >> Tyler, Robin

Charismatic performer and activist Robin Tyler has spent much of her life enmeshed in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights, from planning national marches to promoting same-sex marriage.

arts >> Williamson, Cris

Pioneering singer, songwriter, activist, and teacher, Cris Williamson has been at the forefront of the women's music movement--and a major presence in the lesbian community--for decades.


Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson, eds. Completely Queer. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1998.

Witt, Lynn, Sherry Thomas, and Eric Marcus. Out in All Directions. New York: Warner Books, 1995.

Record label and artist websites:


    Citation Information
    Author: Theophano, Teresa  
    Entry Title: Music: Women's  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 25, 2009  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.