There’s no question that women serve a vital role in the music industry; however, it’s easy to focus on male musicians and ignore the female powerhouses that help shape the landscape of production, engineering and writing. Here are four powerful women that have been ruling the music world from behind the scenes:
Production and Engineering: Judith Sherman and Trina Shoemaker
Grammy-award winning female producers such as Judith Sherman and Trina Shoemaker have been dominating the field since the 1970s and ‘80s. Not only are they badass women who have been nominated for 14 and 5 Grammys, respectively, but they both represent a side of the music industry that is rarely seen or celebrated, and also serve as both an engineer and producer. Sherman started working with chamber musicians directly after working for a radio station in New York City, and since then has been paving the way for other female producers and engineers. If her 14 Grammy nominations don’t prove the incredible work she has done, then her nearly 1,500 musical credits will.
Trina Shoemaker has been in the business since 1983, but made a name for herself when Sheryl Crow fired her old producer to get Shoemaker on board. She was also the first woman to ever win the Grammy for Best Engineered Album for Crow’s album “The Globe Sessions,” proving that she had made the right choice. Highlighting the power of women in the music industry, she’s since produced albums by Emmylou Harris, the Dixie Chicks, Brandi Carlile and Faith Hill.
Writing: Ann Powers and Eve Barlow
One of the most influential music writers and critics, Ann Powers, works for NPR, was chief pop critic at the Los Angeles Times and has authored five books, including “Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music.” Unafraid to bring her feminism into her work, she’s a great example of a woman who knew what she wanted in her career and worked hard to establish herself in a male-dominant field. It’s easy to dismiss this, but the fact that she’s one of the only widely-known female critics speaks volumes as to what society thinks about women with strong opinions.
To represent the new generation of female music writers, Eve Barlow, freelance journalist and former NME Deputy Editor, has given mass attention to up-and-coming female-fronted acts such as Wolf Alice, The Japanese House and Pale Waves. The new wave of social media journalism sets these new writers apart, as we can get their thoughts and opinions immediately and unabashedly through tweets and blog posts. Women like Barlow are bringing new life into the forms of communication we rely on for media consumption, and intertwining feminist politics in a refreshing, crucial way. A great example of her passionately sincere writing is her piece for The Pool, “Sexism, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll — when will the music industry finally wake up to #MeToo?”