PLAYLIST: A Few Top Female Trailblazers

I haven’t written in a while. Life has gotten away from me and I haven’t been able to update as much as I would like. Today felt like a fitting return, as it is a day to truly celebrate.

Many strong women have impacted me through out my life. From my mom to mentors, women have had a profound impact on my character and integrity. As a self proclaimed quasi-feminist, I truly value women’s impact on our society, and to be honest, I feel sad that we need to be reminded to celebrate them.

That’s another argument to be had another day, today I want to celebrate International Women’s Day. In celebration, I have comprised a list of the top female trailblazers in music history. It’s safe to note, this list is not a comprehensive list.  One may not agree with all my choices, but I think we will all agree these women are music royalty and deserve to be celebrated.


1. Wanda Jackson

To say that I am a fan of Wanda Jackson is an understatement. I adore her music, faith, and tenacity in her life and career. Jackson created the female rockstar and the country bombshell at the same time. If it wasn’t for her there would not be any Joan Jetts or Carrie Underwoods. The best thing about her trailblazing history is that she didn’t even know what she was causing at the time, but she knew she was doing something.

2. Cher

Cher has as many definitions as she does hair colors, but she was the original female pop mega star. Not only did she have immense success as 1/2 of Sonny and Cher, she went on to score 3 number one hits in the early 1970’s. The press couldn’t get enough of her and neither could her fans. To this day she keeps blazing new ways showing that superstars are ageless while defining “Twitter advocacy.”

3. Diana Ross

If Cher created the first female pop mega star, then Diana Ross created the first female soul/R&B mega star. From her early days with The Supremes to her continuous solo career, Ross has more iconic hits then one can remember. Ross created fierce and paved the way for African American females in the music industry.

4. Reba McEntire

As a die-in-the-wool Oklahoman, I love Reba McEntire. As a music fan, I am devoted to everything she touches. Her career started in the early 1970’s without much success, until she finally hit number one in 1982 with “Can’t Even Get The Blues.” She created the country music superstar single handedly while always keeping the tradition of those who came before her. Not far from being over, she just won the “Best Roots Gospel Album” at the 2018 Grammys.

5. Tina Turner

There is so much to be said of Tina Turner. She created the “comeback.” After a tumultuous and abusive relationship with her husband and musical partner Ike Turner, Tina walked away with only her name. She began to perform in Vegas dives for someone of her caliber until Capital records took a chance on her. Thus she created “Private Dancer” and the rest is history.

6.  Madonna

Although I am not particularly a huge fan of Madonna, I do respect what she has done in the music industry. With that being said, I have nothing left to say.

7. Billie Holiday

As Paula Cole pointed out to me, Billie Holiday was the first great female American singer/ songwriter. Writing classics like “Don’t Explain” and “God Bless The Child,” Holiday declared herself the mother of jazz vocals. She was also one of the original leading musicians to take a social stand with her music with the song “Strange Fruit.”

8.  Judy Garland

Judy Garland was the greatest American stage performer. Her voice could touch every emotion and her presence could fill any venue. Sadly, we lost Garland when she was just 47 years old. Although many remember her from The Wizard of Oz, she was more than Dorothy.

9. Whitney Houston

Some artists need essays to describe them, but Whitney only needs two words: The Voice.


With that, I would like to say Happy International Women’s Day to all today! Let us truly remember the impact women have had on all of our lives.

Godspeed to every woman today and every day. All I can simply say is thank you.

PLAYLIST: Protest Songs, Let’s Not Make Another List

The world is hurting. From the earthquake in Mexico, the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and those being savagely ripped apart at the hands of war, lives are being stolen all around us. There is reason to protest.

The heart and soul of our nation, world, and human race are hurting, bleeding more and more with every catastrophe. What adds even more wounds to the mix is the attitudes of people. There are some amazing people with great means stepping up to help victims of these tragedies, yet the same political, cultural, and meanness of society is in full force.

Just go on any social media medium and scroll through the feeds. Hate is all around us, even in these most trying times. I will never understand how to look at others through the lenses of race, religion, sex, or orientation. None of that denies the basic rights of being a member of the human race.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with “protest” songs. I like to call them songs with a purpose. There are great compositions from yesterday that both remind us of how far we’ve come, but even more so, how far we need to go. Here’s a list of a few songs speaking to me today.

1. “Strange Fruit”

“Strange Fruit” is one of the most haunting, socially aware songs ever produced. It laid the groundwork for songs with a purpose. It was truly the pioneer. What does it mean for us today? I never want to loosen this songs ties to the brutality the African American community faced in the past and current day, but for me, at this moment, the bodies in the trees are those that you choose not to associate with just because you are different. This can range from race all the way to political party. This disassociation only causes deeper divides amongst humans and provides nothing for solutions.

2.”Blowin’ In The Wind” 

Bob Dylan originally wrote this song, but it has been covered by many artists. My favorite version, and I would argue the most popular version, is Peter, Paul, and Mary’s. As Paul points out in this video, this song is composed of 9 questions. Although for me, each question can only be answered by another question. The two questions that strike me the most are “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?” and “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” These questions were relevant in the 1960’s and they are especially relevant to this day, yet these question are so simple and can be easily answered.

3. “What’s Going On”

Again, I do not want to cheapen this song’s meaning to the people of African American decent and it’s purpose in the Civil Rights movement. I agree with every sentiment and hardship this song portrays against African Americans, but today so many more prejudices have come into light. The questions this song asks should be archaic. They should not even be applicable to today, yet here we are years later still wondering what’s going on.

4.”Mississippi Goddam”

Nina Simone‘s voice on any track speaks straight to my soul, but this one catches me on a different level because she wrote it. Today, many different locations can substitute the word “Mississippi” like Ferguson, Charlottesville, or Flint, just to name a few. This song evokes anger, but more importantly it brings about frustration. It’s not about hiding our flaws as a society of humans, it’s about fixing them. Let’s never say “goddam” again.

5.”I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”

Nina Simone originally made this song popular in the 1960’s. I wanted to provide a more updated version for two reasons. First, I didn’t want to list two Nina Simone videos in this list, although you can never have enough of Ms. Simone. Second, I wanted to show how relevant this song is today. As I sit at my piano and look over this song, the line that always strikes me is “I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart.” If we all showed love, with no strings attached, then there would be no reason for this list or a single “protest” song.

In the end, giving love and expecting nothing in return is all our world needs. It’s so simple that we just don’t get it. Even the best of us that try, will fail, but if we all work together, we can create a movement. There is a solution. Show kindness through love today to prevent a list like this being created tomorrow. Let’s prevent the protest.