Women in Protest Music

By: Hannah Schmidt

At Hathaway Brown, we are very lucky to have an in-depth vocal arts curriculum where women musicians are nurtured and celebrated. If you’ve been to any of the lunch box concerts or performing arts assemblies you know that HB has a very vibrant songwriting community. However, women don’t dominate the music industry in the US like they do at HB. According to Women In Music, only 15% of label members in the US are majority women-owned. Furthermore, only 12% of the 600 most popular songs from 2012 to 2017 were written by women. This inequality leads to women often being ignored in the music world despite their numerous contributions.

Let’s celebrate the many women in music who have had a monumental impact on music and our country.

One way that songwriters can make change is through protest music, which are songs that are associated with a movement. They are created in order to rally community members and make social change. Many of these iconic tunes were composed and performed by women. Protest music can range in topic from the Civil Rights Movement, an example being “Mississippi Goddam” by Nina Simone, to environmental conservation with the iconic “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

I created a playlist with just a few of the most memorable protest songs written by women, ranging from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to the recent viral sensation “A Scary Time” written by Lynzy Lab in response to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. These inspiring women demonstrate how social change can be made through music no matter the time period or genre.

Women in Protest Music Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/hannahschmidttt/playlist/6xsAY1KT7aPfyTEtpMI5Uc?si=Di3NERxrQvewZXyuNHgN9A

Check out more statistics about women in the music industry: http://www.womeninmusic.org/stats.html