14 Empowering Musicians Every Music Lover Should Know

I've been spending a lot more time recently thinking about the law of attraction, how energy attracts energy, and how what we put out in to the world essentially dictates what we get back.

We're all familiar with the concept that our thoughts become our beliefs... our beliefs dictate our actions... our actions become our habits... and our habits become our life, but that can manifest in so many ways: and it can start from something as simple as the media we consume, and the music we listen to. Let me explain...

I don't know about you, but from a young age - especially when I was a pre-teen, and teenager: I often turned to music as a way to help me understand and navigate some of my most overwhelming, traumatic, and anxiety-riddled moments and experiences. Artists I turned to included everything from Eminem and Linkin Park [for those angry moments], Lily Allen and Pink [for those sassy, clap-back moments], and Iron Maiden or the Spice Girls [for those remember who I am moments]... but there are so many artists that Gen Z, in particular, listen to that don't always serve healthy amounts of self-respect, self-love, or healthy ideas around relationships.

So today, I want to outline some of my personal favorite musicians, songwriters, and artists that you may have forgotten, when it comes to mental, emotional, physical and social health. Musicians who help us remember how strong we are, how enough we are, and - for our young girls in particular - how we don't need to bend over [backwards or forwards] in order to gain people's love like.

They say that every successful child is one caring adult away... that can culminate as a parent, teacher, counsellor, mentor, coach... the list of caring adults can be [and should be] endless... but it's also important for us to recognize those that we didn't necessarily know in person, and the impacts that they have on us - past and present.

Also, important to note that we spend so much time looking at our heroes as people who share our same gender identity... but heroes come in many shapes, sizes, religions, and ethnicities. So let's first start off with:

7 Influential Women Artists That You May Have Forgotten About

Lesley Gore (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015)

Lesley Gore was the singer behind "You Don't Own Me": an empowering anthem embodying a woman's authority over her body, her decisions, and her journey. Despite its initial debut in 1963, Lesley Gore's timeless hit remains strikingly pertinent today. This iconic track has left an indelible mark, inspiring subsequent generations and finding resonance in the works of influential artists such as Dusty Springfield, Eminem, Grace, and G-Eazy.

Joan Jett [September 22, 1958 - present]

The unapologetic queen of rock 'n' roll, Joan Jett marches to the beat of her own drum, disregarding societal opinions and embracing life to its absolute brim. And guess what? She believes you should do the same. (Extra points: Her iconic tunes graced the credit sequence of the groundbreaking coming-of-age drama, Freaks & Geeks, empowering smart and independent girls everywhere.) Joan Jett's chart-topping anthems include "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock n Roll," and "I Hate Myself for Loving You."

Chaka Khan [March 23, 1953 - present]

Chaka Khan, an enduring symbol of pop culture, has left an indelible mark on the world. With her unique voice and unparalleled style, she has captivated and influenced generations across the globe. This 10-time GRAMMY Award-winning superstar has transcended genres, leaving her distinct imprint on pop, soul, jazz, and funk music. For Chaka, her empowering anthem "I'm Every Woman" is not merely a song; it embodies a philosophy of life. Embracing her African name 'Chaka,' which signifies 'Woman of Fire,' she personifies strength, passion, and empowerment.

Loretta Lynn [April 14, 1932 - October 4, 2022]

Loretta Lynn is a legendary American country music singer and songwriter who left an indelible mark on the industry. Her illustrious career spanned an impressive six decades, yielding numerous gold albums. However, it was not just her chart-topping success that made her a true force to be reckoned with. Loretta Lynn's influence transcended boundaries, blazing a trail for fellow country music artists, especially women, to fearlessly express their truths. With empowering classics like "Fist City" and "The Pill," she fearlessly challenged conventions and shattered stereotypes. Beyond her musical prowess, Loretta was a devoted mother, a trusted confidante, and an unwavering advocate for female artists. Her legendary parties became platforms for talented women to showcase their skills, a testament to her unwavering support and celebration of their artistry.

Gwen Stefani [October 3, 1969 - present]

When Gwen Stefani first penned "Just a Girl," it served as a rebellious response to her strict parents, who imposed restrictions on her late-night driving. Little did she know that this powerful act of defiance would transform into a '90s feminist anthem, cleverly critiquing society's tendency to shelter young women. Building on this momentum, Gwen continued to deliver empowering hits such as "Hollaback Girl" and "Whatcha Waiting For," further solidifying her status as a champion of female empowerment.

Dolly Parton [January 19, 1946 - present]

Despite facing consistent underestimation and undervaluation in her early music career, Dolly Parton fearlessly defied the obstacles imposed by powerful men, resolutely charting her own path. Her unwavering determination forged a resounding message of empowerment that resonates with women worldwide. While Dolly may not explicitly label herself a feminist, her actions and beliefs speak volumes about her unwavering support for female empowerment. She champions the idea that a woman's hard work and achievements speak for themselves, transcending the need for external validation.

Patti Smith [December 30, 1946 - present]

With her poetic songwriting and unique delivery, Patti Smith emerged as an influential force, leaving an indelible mark on numerous artists who followed in the late 1970s and '80s. One notable example is the iconic new-wave band Blondie, whose music bears the unmistakable influence of Smith's style. As a songwriter and prominent figure in the punk-rock movement, Smith's impact is undeniable. While she may not have achieved chart-topping success, her contributions helped shape the punk rock scenes of New York, London, Los Angeles, and beyond. Smith pioneered the fusion of bohemian sensibility with rock, effectively translating the captivating energy of Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs into the mainstream rock landscape.

Marshall Mathers aka Eminem [October 17, 1972 - present]

Eminem has made a profound impact on music and culture by fearlessly channeling his inner darkness and anger through his music. He shattered conventions, showcasing that the expression of intense and violent emotions had a valid place in art. Eminem fearlessly delved into topics such as his addictions, violent thoughts, and haunting experiences from his troubled childhood, all while managing to achieve chart-topping success. His raw and unapologetic approach captivated audiences, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo of what could be conveyed through music.

Jerry Butler (December 11, 1939 - present)

Jerry Butler was a true force of empowerment in the music industry. With his soulful voice and captivating presence, he radiated strength and inspiration to all who listened. Beyond his remarkable talent, Butler's music resonated deeply with audiences, uplifting them through lyrics that celebrated love, perseverance, and personal growth. His songs became anthems of empowerment, encouraging individuals to embrace their inner strength and strive for greatness. Jerry Butler's enduring legacy is a testament to the transformative power of music and his unwavering commitment to empowering others through his art.

AC/DC [1973 - present]

AC/DC's impact extends far beyond the realm of music, encompassing a profound sense of empowerment. Their iconic lightning bolt logo has transcended its origins, becoming an emblem of the rock and roll spirit that ignites passion and rebellion. AC/DC's music has permeated the cultural landscape, finding a place in the soundtracks of numerous films, TV shows, and video games. Notably, their timeless anthem "Back in Black" has achieved such widespread recognition that it has become a cinematic cliché, symbolizing the unyielding power and resilience of rock. AC/DC's enduring presence in popular culture serves as a testament to their unparalleled ability to inspire and empower individuals from all walks of life, etching their name in the annals of empowerment and leaving an indelible mark on generations of fans.

Imagine Dragons [2009 - present]

Imagine Dragons, beyond their exceptional music, wield a profound influence in championing empowerment. Their impact extends far beyond the realm of art, as they actively use their platform to raise funds and awareness for vital causes. Imagine Dragons have been at the forefront of supporting LGBTQ+ rights, passionately advocating for inclusivity and equality. Moreover, their unwavering commitment to the fight against pediatric cancer showcases their dedication to making a tangible difference in the lives of young patients and their families. In addition, they have lent their voice to the empowerment of women, amplifying the need for gender equality and encouraging the upliftment of women in all spheres of life. Through their actions, Imagine Dragons exemplify the transformative power of music as a catalyst for positive change, igniting a sense of empowerment in their fans and inspiring them to take action in creating a better world.

Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

Michael Jackson, a true beacon of empowerment, used his influence to make a profound impact on both humanitarian causes and the music industry. Throughout his life, he actively supported numerous charitable organizations, including USA for Africa, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. In fact, his extraordinary dedication earned him a notable entry in the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star," with an astounding count of 39 charitable endeavors.

Beyond his philanthropy, Jackson fearlessly confronted and conquered racial barriers within the music industry, breaking down walls and paving the way for future generations. Despite enduring years of abuse from his father, he persevered, transforming his pain into the driving force behind his remarkable success. His journey from adversity to triumph stands as a testament to the power of self-belief and resilience.

Jay Z (December 4, 1969 - present)

Jay Z, an epitome of empowerment, rose from the gritty streets of Brooklyn to ascend as one of hip-hop's most revered moguls. From the moment Reasonable Doubt hit the airwaves, his music became an inseparable part of the culture's DNA, resonating with listeners and inspiring generations to come.

Yet, Jay Z's influence extends far beyond his musical prowess. He stands as a beacon of black excellence, using his platform to shed light on critical social issues that disproportionately affect the Black community in America. Together with his wife, Beyoncé, they fearlessly address topics like racial inequality and criminal justice reform, igniting conversations and driving meaningful change.

Through his music and entrepreneurial ventures, Jay Z continuously demonstrates that success is within reach for those who dare to dream. His journey from humble beginnings to commanding the highest levels of industry not only inspires but also serves as a blueprint for aspiring entrepreneurs and artists seeking empowerment. Jay Z's enduring impact as a cultural icon and his unwavering commitment to social progress make him an extraordinary force of empowerment, inspiring individuals to overcome obstacles, pursue their dreams, and create lasting change in their communities.

Bob Marley
Bob Marley, a true icon of empowerment, harnessed the power of his lyrics to ignite a revolution of liberation, justice, and empowerment. His music became a resounding voice that fearlessly confronted the pressing social issues of his time. Marley fearlessly delved into topics such as poverty, racial inequality, political oppression, and the quest for spiritual awakening.

Through his infectious rhythms and profound lyrics, he became a beacon of hope, rallying individuals around the globe to stand up for their rights and fight against injustice. Marley's music served as a transformative force, uniting people from diverse backgrounds under a shared vision of equality and empowerment.

His unwavering commitment to advocating for change and inspiring others to take action has made him an enduring symbol of empowerment. Bob Marley's legacy transcends generations, continuing to inspire individuals to rise above adversity, embrace their inner strength, and strive for a better world. His music remains a timeless reminder that through unity and the power of our voices, we have the ability to bring about meaningful transformation and create a more just and empowered society.

But there's so much more to ensuring our identities and our mental health than simply listening to the music of our favorite artists

I've been listening to, and writing music for most of my life, and quite often as a child and teenager: I would be inspired by my favorite artists, and their songs. I wrote my own version of the song "Just a Girl" by No Doubt, because Gwen Stefani inspired my inner feminist. Empowered by New Zealand blues legend: Midge Marsden's song "Burning Rain": I wrote my first song about environmental awareness called "Look Around", and sure: that's all well and good. But now that I've been teaching vocals to teens and adults alike for almost twenty years: I've noticed the huge number of people who - quite literally - try to embody their heroes and sheroes vocally as they perform. The issue is, however, [I tell them]: as much as Adele is awesome, and as epic as Ed Sheeran's songs are: they aren't you.

And more importantly: YOU aren't them. Yet, we often find ourselves - quite literally - trying to imitate their voices, their vocal techniques, and, yes, the lifestyles that their lyrics try to portray. But, even if you're listening, or singing along to the most empowering of singer/songwriters: their realities simply aren't ours.

YOU are the only possible writer of your own song.

YOU are the only one with your voice, your experience, your struggles, your ideas, and your unique perspectives... yet: we tie ourselves so often to the narrative of other people's music.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a Swiftie or part of Team Drizzie, but the fact is: you have a pen of your own... and the ability to be one of your own inspirational artists - if you both want to be, and if you have the right coaching and support.

This is why I do what I do

We can talk about inspiring male and female artists all day... we could discuss how each and every legend throughout history has been made legendary because of what they stand for, or the incredible songs they write, or how they make us feel as we listen to their music... but at the end of the day: it's important to recognize that the music and media we consume are simply artistic representations of someone else's experiences.

True empowerment comes from understanding ourselves, finding the language to express those vulnerable parts of ourselves, and learning how to transmute those overwhelming, scary, traumatic and difficult thoughts and feelings into something that we can feel both represented by, and proud of.

Empowerment through Songwriting coaching isn't for everyone.

But if you're someone who often turns on the radio, or listens to everyone from Tina Turner to Elvis, or Aretha Franklin to Imagine Dragons when you're in your feelings: chances are, you're someone who not only uses music to express yourself, but someone who can use music and songwriting to effectively turn your struggles into superpowers... and your overwhelm into overcoming.

If you're intrigued by this concept, and want to learn more about using music and songwriting to empower yourself: I'd love for you to book a call with me here, and let's talk about taking back life's proverbial pen, and writing your masterpiece!

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

~ Emma G

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