Oakland, CA — As a woman, I know what it’s like to be overlooked because of my gender. Even though there are a fair amount of powerful women in the music industry, it’s well known that the opportunities for women to excel are sparse and harder to conquer than they are for men. It’s no different than any other job field; women have to be exceptional and fly to get what the average man can walk to.
For this reason, I always look to support women in music, especially those that are newcomers to the industry. Over the past couple of years, SZA, Ella Mai, Alessia Cara and Cardi B have made huge waves, becoming some of the most prominent and successful acts in the industry, but we can do better. Here is my list of seven women/women-led acts that are on the verge of breaking out.
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Summer Walker has already begun to carve her own lane in R&B at only 22 years old. LVRN's singer-songwriter is a skilled guitarist and draws inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu in her music. Songs like “CPR” and “Girls Need Love” have already garnered her some buzz, with the latter’s music video getting 20 million views in just four months; her debut project "Last Day of Summer" solidified her as a force to watch out for.
Hailing from across the pond, this U.K. singer-songwriter is the breath of fresh air that R&B needed. Traces of alternative and soul can be heard in her music, as she cites Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as some of her biggest influences. She first signed with a major label when she was only 13 years old and has since released an album, three EPs and 16 stand-alone singles, including her breakout single “Sober” from 2017. As of late, she was nominated for the BRIT Awards 2019 Critic’s Choice Award, with past winners including Adele and Sam Smith. It’s safe to say she’s an artist to watch.
Sacramento native Spellling is a true underground artist that deserves mainstream attention. Her first project "Pantheon of Me" was released in 2017 and was entirely self-written, recorded and produced in her apartment in Berkeley, CA. Her music can only be described as ethereal, unique and mesmerizing. She's received critical acclaim from national and local publications alike, the future is bright for the self-made songstress. Pitchfork called her first project “one of the most compelling debuts of the year.” Her followup "Mazy Fly" just dropped and it should be on everyone's must-listen list.
Currently signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig Records, King Princess dropped “1950,” her first single, last February and since then she has accumulated over 10 million views on YouTube. It might’ve also helped that singer Harry Styles tweeted the lyrics to the song back in March. A multi-instrumentalist producer as well as a singer-songwriter, she is skilled in playing guitar, bass, piano and drums. King Princess identifies as gay, and it’s not something she shies away from, with the topic being a recurring theme in her music.
The Atlantic Records signee was born and raised in Chicago, and at 20 years old she’s already on her way to becoming the next big thing. She toured with SZA and Noname on their respective tours and her latest EP "Crush" was produced entirely by Steve Lacey, who has previously worked with Solange and Kendrick Lamar. "Crush" is an old-school inspired R&B piece that is not only fun but soulful as well.
Indian-American R&B singer Raveena has been compared to the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae and Sade, with her delicate vocals carefully sung over gentle, rhythmic instrumentals. Her COLORS video for "If Only" has garnered over two million views. Raveena treats her songbook like a diary, with each song framed as a piece of her soul. Her music is open and honest and aims to empower women of color, making her an exciting artist to look out for.
This three-piece London-based band Radiant Children are comprised of musicians Tyler Acord, Marcos Bernardis, and lead singer Fabienne Holloway. Their debut single “Life’s a B***h” was featured on HBO’s "Insecure" season three premiere, giving the group much deserved exposure. Radiant Children’s music can be described as soulful R&B with a thin veil of alternative-pop, making their appeal captivating to many different audiences.