For International Women’s Day 2018, we’ve decided to highlight great women in music, or Women Who Rock. There are many different ways one can rock; standing up for social justice and the dignity of yourself and others, crafting complex, passionate symphonic music, or by creating a wall of sound with guitars and amplifiers. To give you some examples, here are a few standout books from our current display.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
“Before Carrie Brownstein codeveloped and starred in the wildly popular TV comedy Portlandia, she was already an icon to young women for her role as a musician in the feminist punk band Sleater-Kinney. The band was a key part of the early riot- grrrl and indie rock scenes in the Pacific Northwest, known for their prodigious guitar shredding and their leftist lyrics against war, traditionalism, and gender roles.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is the deeply personal and revealing narrative of Brownstein’s life in music, from ardent fan to pioneering female guitarist to comedic performer and luminary in the independent rock world. Though Brownstein struggled against the music industry’s sexist double standards, by 2006 she was the only woman to earn a spot on Rolling Stone readers’ list of the “25 Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time.” This book intimately captures what it feels like to be a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today.” –Taken from Goodreads.com.
What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography by Alan Light
“Inspired by the Academy Award-nominated Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, an intimate and vivid look at the legendary life of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist who evolved into a chart-topping chanteuse and committed civil rights activist.
From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare archival footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone’s remarkable private diaries), this nuanced examination of Nina Simone’s life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality, while laying bare the personal demons that plagued her from the time of her Jim Crow childhood in North Carolina to her self-imposed exile in Liberia and Paris later in life.
Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists.” –Taken from Goodreads.com.
Sounds and Sweet Airs by Anna Beer
“Sounds and Sweet Airs reveals the hidden stories of eight remarkable composers, taking the reader on a journey from seventeenth-century Medici Florence to London in the Blitz.
Exploring not just the lives and works of eight exceptional artists, historian Anna Beer also asks tough questions about the silencing of their legacy, which continues to this day. Why do we still not hear masterpieces such as Hensel’s piano work “The Year,” Caccini’s arias and Boulanger’s setting of Psalm 130?
A long-overdue celebration of neglected virtuosos, Sounds and Sweet Airs presents a complex and inspirational picture of artistic endeavour and achievement that deserves to be part of our cultural heritage.
The featured composers are: Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Marianna Martines, Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn), Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Elizabeth Maconchy.” –Taken from Goodreads.com.
The important contributions that women have made to music, society, and the world can’t be contained by a single day, book, or blog post. We hope these titles inspire you to continue reading about women’s history!