Hear Me Roar—Extraordinary Women in Music

By Chiron O'Keefe

Being a musician, it dawned on me to seize the opportunity to share bits and pieces of my musical collection. YouTube provides an excellent resource for music, both new and classic. The beauty of this free video site is not only can you enjoy some amazing concerts, you can also utilize the site as a means of deciding whether you want to invest in a download.

I can't count the number of times I've caught a tune while driving, fumbled with pen and paper to scribble down a few lyrics, and then searched for the song once I was safe at home. Today, I put together my first collection for your pleasure and amusement. Obviously, this must be a short list. *grin* A true compilation would last for hours! With luck, at least one tune will spark your interest. Here is a celebration and tribute to some extraordinary female vocalists.

I was driving to the optometrist listening to the radio when a tune caught my ear. Today, this song remains one of my favorites. "Summer came on like cinnamon so sweet…" Corinne Bailey Rae performs her hit, Put Your Records On:

Whenever I see this video, I want to jump up and dance along. The woman moves her body while moving my soul. I bow to the amazing Natalie Merchant performing Jealousy:

Did you ever wonder why Amy Winehouse became so popular, so fast? Before her descent into addiction, she displayed the kind of Blues chops many a singer yearns for. Check out a glimpse of early Amy singing Stronger Than Me and see why I'm still a fan:

Speaking of early, Lesley Gore had a sure-fire hit with her pop tune, It's My Party. It took my music-loving husband to turn me on to this next video featuring a powerful live performance of You Don't Own Me:

A friend recently turned me on to this astonishing voice. Adele sings Chasing Concrete:

A woman with a voice that carves crystalline notes out of the air, performing live,
Beth Rowley, Little Dreamer:

A blues singer, a jazz musician or just an intriguing hipster? This woman is definitely all three. Melody Gardot with a song that is an instant classic, Worrisome Heart:

Long ago, an extraordinary woman sang with an intimacy that few manage. Unfortunately, there is no live footage available. However, if you like jazzy blues, listen to Black Coffee by Julie London:

Perhaps best remembered for her role and unforgettable song in the 1967 hit movie To Sir With Love, Lulu is one hell of a singer. She appeared in the Martin Scorcese executive-produced landmark PBS series titled simply, The Blues.

Unfortunately, PBS put a halt to embedding this video. You can click the link to savor the next video. With Jeff Beck in accompaniment, Lulu burns through her take of Cry Me a River.

No list of incomparable women could be complete without the one, the only, Janis Joplin offering a blistering version of Summertime:

Cry Baby:

So ends my first musical tour. There will be more to come. Hopefully at least one video caught your attention enough to afford a listen. If time is at a premium (and when is it not?), do bookmark this page and return, perhaps after a glass of wine, and check out one or two more. Hopefully, you'll find some tunes to add to your iPod.

Now, based on this month's theme, please share some of your own favorite female vocalists. Who rocks your world? Who can't you get enough of? Young or old, past or present, do share!

--Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul: www.chironokeefeblogspot.com


  1. Chiron - I think we share the same music loving gene! ;D I ADORE Adele and Corrine Bailey Rae. I listen to Adele when I'm in "one of those moods" when I want to just get into a sad/melancholy frame of mind for writing.

    Leslie Gore is wonderful isn't she I've always loved that song "You Don't Own Me" what an anthem! There is an Italian singer named Mina who has a very similar sound and she is a queen in Italy - she's a wonderful singer I have one of her best of CDs - she is from my parent's generation as is Lesley Gore. They loved that music. There is a lot of Italian music that even today still carries that feeling.

    In Canada we're very lucky to have so many tremendous musicians who go on to entertain the rest of the world. And we're so proud of them. The Canuck gals I love are Feist and Serena Ryder among others but I've been listening to them lately.

    And other singers I love to listen (my itunes play list under "Chick Music" but it's just my fun way of labeling my fave music include Sara Bareilles, Sia, Duffy and Imogene Heap. There are more of course but then I'd be here all day! LOL. Thanks for the clips.

  2. O-o-ooooo! I love this post!! As you know - or maybe you don't know - I love,love,love music and that was my biggest dream - to be a vocal performer. But I also love to write and music inspires my writing. If I'm in a funk or confused or worried or sad or happy - I take my iPod on a walk and the combination of walking and listening to music inspires me. Hey, now you've inspired me to do a similar post on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

    As for who inspires me - practically anybody. It just depends on my mood or the theme of my book. Yesterday I was writing a scene where the character had gone to see "Cabaret" and so I played that soundtrack, which led to "All That Jazz" - both soundtracks that inspire me to write about strong women.

    Youtube is my best friend. :)

  3. Tori, Kate Bush, YOKO!, Girls on Top, Donnas, Joan Jett, Raincoats, Slits, Rickie Lee Jones, Marianne Faithful, the awesome ETTA JAMES! Loreena McKennit, the Flash Girls, TingTings, Liz Larson -- oh the list is endless! Yes, Madonna! Goldfrapp, Joan Armatrading, Layne Redmond, Laurie Anderson....

  4. Lots of great women featured here! :) I love Adele intensely -- I listen to her a lot while writing or working. Her voice is very soothing and inspirational!

    I love Regina Spektor, too -- such a gorgeous voice, and her lyrics are awesome. I'm a huge fan of Ingrid Michaelson's awesome acoustic sound and Sara Bareilles' soaring vocals, too!

  5. Oh My Lord! didn't realize how old I was until today...I've only heard three of these ladies sing and they are three of the greatest: Leslie Gore, Julie London and Janis Joplin. Today I've met a few more extraordinary women.

    Thank you, Chiron.

  6. Add another vote in there for Tori Amos. She is such an amazing singer and songwriter, and she covers just about any range of emotions you need.

    I also like Alanis Morrissette quite a bit. I like how her lyrics are written more like prose than poetry--Panic! at the Disco songs sound like that to me, too.

  7. WOW Chiron!! I love that your wonderfully thoughtful comment was then followed by this all out great piece on all this amazing music! Makes me proud to be a woman!! I mean, I am almost always proud to be a woman, except in those moments when tears flow from my eyes uncontrollably, but now you have made me feel OK about that as well! Thanks darling!

    My own anthem to love is 'Son of a Preacher Man' - Dusty Springfield, later re-recorded by Aretha. Why do I love it so? I have no idea! It was on a CD an ex made for us to go on a road trip and it has stayed in my heart while he's long, long gone from it... There is a yearning and sexiness to the song that I'll never be able to properly explain.

    Thanks for making my Itunes account wayyyy too expensive for the month, but all for a good cause. Great women who made/make great music!

  8. How wonderful to see such great comments!!

    Hey Jo-Jo!

    Author Jay Morgan turned me on to Adele, for which I am forever grateful. The woman's voice is amazing!

    And I love Feist! I still chuckle when remembering Stephen Colbert's hilarious Christmas special with Feist as an angel. *snort* Too funny.

    Thanks for adding to my list of singers to check out! You Rock!


  9. Hi Kathy!

    Wow, too cool about wanting to be a female vocalist. Wish you lived closer so I could hook up a microphone for you some Saturday night. *grin*

    Oh, how I agree about YouTube. I love, love, love it! Hubby and I have to be careful on Saturday night because otherwise we could literally stay up all night. *laughs* The music just blows me away. And yes, I tend to be quite eclectic with my selections. Next month's blog I'll feature some more. Yay!

    Thanks for commenting both here and on FB!!


  10. Hello K.A.!

    Wow, great list. Even more to check out. Man, I do so love Rickie Lee and Marianne. Have you seen the rather over-the-top movie she made? And her version of the song she wrote (that the Stones co-opted as they tend to do *grin*), Sister Morphine. Amazing.

    Decades ago a friend and drove into the Bay Area to check out Laurie Anderson's incredible film. So many women that just take me to the sky! And Etta... Wow, right?

    Joan Jett's videos still keep me glued to the screen. And Yoko! Her videos are too cool. My favorite of hers is still Kiss-Kiss-Kiss. *grin*

    Thanks so much for adding to my list!


  11. Hello Writemeg!

    Yes, Adele's voice gives me chills. Now, of course, I must check out the women you mention too. Female vocalists rock my world. Which makes me think, how could I have forgotten Sara Vaughn singing Key Largo? *smacks head*

    Thanks for commenting and adding to my list!


  12. Hey Nina!

    You have to be the sweetest person in the world! *blush* Thanks so much.

    It really does make one proud to be a woman. *sigh* We Freaking ROCK!!

    How cool you mention One Of My Favorite Songs!! I can actually play Son of a Preacher Man, and I'd be honored to whip out the guitar for you. BUT, I have an even more special treat. Let me know if you get this comment, otherwise I will need to email you.

    This one's just for you, my dear!!


    You are SO going to love it.

    Enjoy and thanks again for jumping in. Sorry about the iTunes account. *laughs* I so relate!!


  13. J!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!! Wow, another Julie London fan? How cool is that?!? Is that woman's voice sound the way a truffle melts in your mouth or what? *laughs*

    You know I just recently realized how many new songs are coming out. Which is why I decided to put my YouTube moments to good use this month. *heh-heh* Hey, I love Sara Vaughn and trust me, I'm not THAT old. *snort*

    You're in good company, J. A few years ago I would have said the same, and just look at all the recommendations piling in! It's blowing my mind, dudette!! *grin*

    Thanks for visiting, it means so much to me!


  14. Hey Jennifer!

    You all are reminding me how gorgeous Tori's voice is. So many singers, so little time! *laughs* Nice recommendations, my list grows ever longer...

    Thanks so much for jumping in and adding a comment!


  15. I remembered one more: Mia Zapata. She was the lead singer of The Gits, a Seattle punk band poised on the brink of success when Zapata was murdered. Her voice had a richness to it that you don't typically hear in a punk vocalist, and the world really lost out when she died. (Not to be too much of a downer.)

  16. You all just made my day today. We'll have to do this again. I'm so proud to be a Boomer. :)

    And, Chiron, you never know when I'll be visiting Oregon again. :)

  17. I loved this post. And yes, I did wander around the videos. Two wonderful voices you can check out on YouTube: Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and a gazillion other songs. The beautiful and talented Rita Coolidge - Help Me Make It Through The Night and Don't Cry Out Loud.

    Lulu was pure joy!

  18. WOW! great comments - and so many great artists listed here - many I already love (and forgot to mention LOL! but others I've added to my list - I too have busted my itunes budget for the month! And it's Imogen Heap (my mistake earlier).

    I love world music too - so if you love Brazilian groove - there's Daniela Mercury - she's lively, fun, full of energy. She gets you moving!

    and Aimee Mann (Remember the group Til Tuesday)? She's been on her own for many years. She did the soundtrack to one of my fave films "Magnolia" by Paul Thomas Anderson - in fact he built the movie around the songs - they inspired him. The songs are gorgeous. It's one of my fave soundtracks.

  19. Great post, Chiron...my daughter turned me on to Adele...just love her...Janis Joplin grew up in the town right next to where I grew up. She was quite a few years older, but I'm not a huge fan, although I will admit, she put her herself out there, it was almost as if she was bearing her soul each time she sang...true genius!

    Loved the post and the links!!


  20. Chiron - I'm on vacation and had the glorious pleasure of clicking on all your links. Great concert!

    The Leslie Gore song is brilliant. Melody Gardot - woo! Thanks for pointing me in her direction. Janis is of course just spectacular. That version of Summertime took it in such a fresh direction. Loved it.

  21. Hello Chiron!!!

    WOW, she is sexy personified. It made the little hairs on my arms stand on end!! Her dress, her voice, the constant movement with complete command of her stage, again, another woman who makes me proud to call myself a woman!!

    So, this will have to do until we are in the same room, the same state, the same country and I can listen to your rendition, which I'm sure will make me cry. This one did...

    Love and great music vibes to you and having an overused Itunes account is the best malaise I can wish on all my friends!!


  22. Hi Chiron. I love so many female vocalists...Barbra Streisand was my first inspiration. I use to sing Memories in the shower all the time. LOL. Also, Patsy Cline.

    Others include: Joan Jett, Diana Krall, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Ethridge, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, JLO, Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks...goodness I could fill a whole page with my favorites!

    Enjoyed watching the videos and listening. Thanks, dear!

  23. Great post, Chiron! Like you, I have too many favorites to list. Nancy Griffin and Susan Tedeschi are incredible vocalists. Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams comprise my foray into country. :) The lead singers for the Cranberries and Garbage are wonderful, as is Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Something about her voice just gets me every time!
    Jonatha Brooke, Alison Krauss, Norah Jones - I could go on forever but I'll stop here! :)

  24. Hello Elengreywriter!

    Isn't Lulu amazing?? I love Roberta and Rita too. Such voices! Wow.

    Thanks for jumping in!


  25. Jennifer, I think I remember her!! The name really rings a bell. There are so many recommendations now, I'll be perusing for weeks. Yay!!

    Thanks so much!

  26. Hey Kathy,

    It's IS wonderful, isn't it? You be sure and let me know about Oregon. We'll share some wine and music!


  27. Hey Jo-Jo! Even more names!! *laughs*

    This is fantastic. Thanks!


  28. Hi Tessy!

    Pretty cool to think Janis grew up so close to you. She really did express her soul, didn't she? She thought herself to be the reincarnation of Bessie Smith, and whether true or not, it's clear she had an intensity that few could hope to acheive.

    I so appreciate you stopping by!! Thanks so much!


  29. Happy Vacation, Julia!

    Well, you might see that your own Woodstock post inspired me. *grin* I'm glad to have been able to repay you for the cool concert you shared.

    Thanks so much for commenting, my dear!!


  30. Oh, Nina!

    Now you'll make me cry!

    Isn't Joss freaking amazing? The first time I saw this video my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe her power and confidence. Yes, made me proud to be a woman. It was the same when I watched Natalie. Go, Sister, GO!

    Thanks for letting me know. And for sharing the video with your FB friends!! *laughs* Very cool, indeed.

    Still grinning,

  31. Hello Misty!

    Oooh, you shared so many favorites. I learned to play both 'Crazy' and 'Walkin' After Midnight' because of Pasty. Such a voice! And the song 'Crazy' (written by Willie Nelson, of course, and his working title was 'Stupid'--*snort*) was supposedly recorded in One Take! *gasp*

    Thanks so much for dropping by, Misty!


  32. Cate, I love your list too!!

    I caught Patty Griffin live in San Fran, years ago. She opened for Lucinda Williams! Yup. What a GREAT show. Lucinda ended up doing several ovations. At the end she came out with just her fellow guitarist and did some blues. I was up front and getting the crowd pumped (I am THE BEST audience, and proud to admit it. I've had bands say they wish they could hire me! *laughs*) and Lucinda said she HAD to stay and play more.

    Saw Lucinda again at the Britt Festival. Her voice is so amazing.

    And Chrissie Hynde! Wow...

    So many greats. You know, we could spend a solid week watching videos and listening to songs and never run out of choices!!

    Time to buy more wine. *laughs*

    Thanks so much for your comments, Cate!



Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you but hope you are a real person and not a spammer. :)

Popular Posts