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International Women’s Day: all girls to the front

ByAmelia Abeyawardene

Mar 13, 2017

Music editors Mia and Verity discuss their ultimate female musical inspirations

Amy Winehouse

By Verity Loughlin


Amy Winehouse was one of the most iconic artists of the noughties. Her seminal album Back to Black perfectly articulates feelings of heartbreak, infidelity and addiction.

When you listen to a Winehouse album it makes you feel like you’ve aged 30 years and you’re standing on a balcony smoking a cigarette in a silk kimono thinking of all your ex-lovers that have double crossed you. Listen to ‘Me and Mr Jones’ and you’ll know what I mean.

Amy Winehouse was a unique artist who revived the jazz and blues music scene. Her trademark beehive, bold eyeliner, and tattoos that were dotted all over her body made her stand out from the clean cut, manufactured popstars of the time.  Tragically, she suffered from drug and alcohol addiction which ultimately lead to her premature death at 27. However, she is well remembered as one of the most talented artists of our time. This has been well documented in the critically acclaimed biopic Amy, which will make you appreciate this amazing artist even more than you thought possible.


Princess Nokia

By Verity Loughlin


Destiny Frasqueri, aka Princess Nokia, is changing the future of hip hop. Despite being offered five record deals, she is adamant to carry on her career as an independent artist. This has worked in her favour, having completed a sold-out US and European tour all without the financial or promotional support of a label. Her latest EP 1992 is a love letter to growing up in New York and navigating life as an misunderstood misfit. Taking inspiration from anything to Slipknot, witchcraft, skater girls and rave culture, she is a multi-faceted artist with a unique vision.

Princess Nokia brings a punk spirit to hip hop that has been missing from the now commercialised scene, aiming to “dismantle the intimidating masculinity of the rap world one riot girl at a time”.  During her live performances, she reclaims the historically non-inclusive riot grrl chant of bringing all girls to the front proclaiming: “This is a melanin space, if you are a person of colour make your way to the front because your place is not in the back!”. Princess Nokia is committed to promoting urban, intersectional feminism, and self-love within her art and activism. She is the witchy, feminist hero of our time, whom our post Trump and Brexit society so desperately needs. If you want to feel especially empowered this international women’s day (IWD) listen to ‘Tomboy’.


Erykah Badu

By Mia Abeyawardene


In 1997, Erykah Badu released her first album, Baduizm, innovatively combining R&B, soul and hip hop into what is known today as neosoul.

As a pioneer of this genre, what makes Badu stand out from the rest of its contributors is the timelessness of her music. Listening to tracks such as ‘On and On’ or ‘4 Leaf Clover’ today, it would be easy to believe that they were released just yesterday, because Badu was so ahead of her own time. Badu’s trademark look is a giant head wrap, which she can be seen wearing on the cover of her debut album. Since then she has admitted to owning over 726 large and colourful head wraps, trademarking her eccentric and  unconventional style.

During her career she collaborated with acts including J Dilla, D’Angelo and even became romantically involved with André 3000 from Outkast. Their hit single ‘Ms Jackson’ was supposedly inspired by Badu herself. Even if you think you haven’t heard of Erykah Badu before, her influence is so widespread that she is undoubtedly featured or sampled on a track that you were unaware of. Amy Winehouse references an ex-lover stealing one of her favourite records “… and my new Badu”, and one of my personal favourite samples is included in ‘Mathematics’ by Mos Def.


PJ Harvey

By Mia Abeyawardene


Polly Jean Harvey’s music style is often described as experimental; throughout her career she has incorporated elements of alternative rock, punk blues, art rock and folk to accompany her dark, poetic lyrics.

Earlier on in the 90s, Polly could be found playfully donning bright blue eyeshadow and a USA bikini. However, you are more likely to find her now adorned in black feathers – referencing the cover of the Mercury Prize Winning Let England Shake, with a saxophone hanging around her neck.

Having now completed 11 unique, phenomenal studio albums, progressing from Dry (1992) to The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016), it is unlikely that Harvey will be stopping any time soon. Her last album was recorded as a public session at Somerset House, inviting fans to “experience the flow and energy of the recording process”.

Still touring and headlining several European festivals this year, PJ Harvey’s set is catered to both old fans and new. If you’re in need of some raw, angry feminine energy this IWD, be sure to check out some of PJ Harvey’s earlier work. ‘50 ft Queenie’ undermines the classic patriarchal struggle for dominance and asserts a strong female prowess.

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