Since being the frontwoman of 4 Non Blondes, who asked a generation, “What’s Going On?”, Perry has become a sought-after producer-songwriter in the music industry and Clementine Ford‘s girlfriend. Perry is behind huge tracks like Christina Aguilera‘s “Beautiful,” Pink‘s “Get the Party Started” and Gwen Stefani‘s “What You Waiting For?” and Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman.” Perry continues to work with queer and queer-friendly musicians, including Chely Wright and Adam Lambert and is behind the LA Gay and Lesbian Center’s annual gala, “An Evening With Women.”
As the founder of the first ever all-girl rock band, Fanny, June paved the way for most women on this list. The band signed to Warner Brothers’ Reprise Records in 1969, releasing four albums and playing on a Barbara Streisand album in 1971. Fanny released a greatest hits compilation in 2002 on Rhino Records. Meanwhile, June and partner Ann Hackler founded the non-profit Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA).
Singer, guitarist, producer, record label owner and member of the first-ever girl band to hit it big on hard rock radio, The Runaways, Joan Jett has become more of a dykon since her career began four decades ago. Guitar maker, Gibson created a guitar in Joan’s name, and she was listed as only one of two women on Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time. With the “dyke” sticker on her axe and queer bands like Girl in a Coma signed to her label, Blackheart Records, Joan is consistently working to keep gay women in rock ‘n roll.
As the frontwoman of The Gossip, Beth has brought a new face to pop music. Her voice blends blues, rock and disco on hit singles like “Standing in the Way of Control” and “Listen Up!” Ditto’s international stardom hasn’t been in vain: Beth is an outspoken advocate for queer rights and plus-sized women. The Gossip’s last two albums peaked in the Top 10 on the UK Billboard charts.
5 Ma Rainey
The blues singer was involved with women when it was still illegal. Her 1928 album Prove It On Me Blues had several songs about being a lesbian and the cover had her posed in a hat and tie while talking to a flapper girl. The title track included the lyrics, “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends, They must have been women, ’cause I don’t like no men. Wear my clothes just like a fan, talk to gals just like any old man ’cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me, sure got to prove it on me.” Rainey recorded more than 100 songs with Paramount Recordings, including one with Louis Armstrong.