Women in Music: 15 Powerhouse Acts, Sonic Stunners, and Musical Marvels

Women in Music: 15 Powerhouse Acts, Sonic Stunners, and Musical Marvels

Female-fronted. Girl group. Pretty good for a girl. These phrases can be toxic in the music industry, trivializing talent in favor of spotlighting gender. We want to slam shut the door on this kind of dialogue, but we also want to celebrate women and their musical achievements. This pleasure to do so becomes even more special when well-deserved talent gets to bask in the company of other incredible women.

That's why The Music Mermaid has rounded up 15 powerhouse bands and musicians we want to thank for crafting some of our favorite tunes. 

1. The Wild Reeds

Indie-folk outfit The Wild Reeds are masters of harmony. Finding a single gorgeous voice is a tough task, but finding three in the same band has to be some sort of practical joke... thank god it isn't. Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe, and Sharon Silva share the mic, contributing lush harmonies among sprawling folk arrangements aided by band members Nick Jones and Nick Phapiseth. Together, The Wild Reeds spin poignant narratives that are bound to take your breath away.

2. Monica Martin

You've probably fallen in love with Monica Martin a million times: as lead singer of folk-pop band PHOX, as a ridiculously cool and funny stunner in general, and now as the vocal contributor to strings-based project Violents. Her voice is one-of-a-kind; a truly enthralling ache and smoke that could make damn near anything sound like a dream. 

3. Joseph

When Natalie Closner enlisted her twin sisters to sing with her, nobody could have predicted what a force their band, Joseph, would become. Another harmonious trio, each member brings a certain flair and emotion to the group, as together they put out powerful folk tracks with soaring harmonies. 

4. Alice Smith

There aren't words to capture the depth of Alice Smith's voice. The singer-songwriter is a true powerhouse, stunning the senses with her soulful vocals. Her sophomore album was an R&B-tinged romp through wild, impassioned ballads and bluesy, percussion-based singalongs.

5. Boy Band

Though New York trio Boy Band just released their debut EP, they're already bound to make waves on the indie front. Glorious three-part harmonies share the space with surprisingly tasteful kazoo and glockenspiel rhythms (we're not making this up) in one track, but also with steady percussion and guitar strums in their other carefully crafted folk-pop gems.

6. The Staves

English folk-rock group The Staves are another sister trio, expertly blending their own rich harmonies with moments of sweeping classic instrumentation. Every single song is unbearably lovely, whether they're tackling covers from classic artists or shocking fans with dreamy originals.

7. Overcoats

Electro-pop duo Overcoats burst onto the music scene just a few years ago, but they did so quietly, humbly. Their debut album is brimming with unapologetically honest songs that find Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell struggling through loneliness and young love. There is nothing more decadent and admirable than the way their voices merge, the way they open up, and the way they arrange such sonically mesmerizing tracks.

8. Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus released her debut single just three years ago, but has since become a favorite in the solo indie-rock community. The singer-songwriter isn't musically trained, but her songs form knots in the stomach and pound on the heart with an urgency that suggests this is certainly the right path for her. Though often minimalist at first, her arrangements always end up pulling off the best surprises.

9. I'm With Her

Folk supergroup I'm With Her is composed of Americana singer Sarah Jarosz, fiddler Sara Watkins, and Irish singer-songwriter Aoife O'Donovan. Together, they've formed a harmony-led roots project that finds each member contributing their own massive skills to a new brand of classic folk. 

10. The Pairs

Hailing from Ontario, The Pairs feature three vocalists sharing their versatile voices with each other, boasting resounding harmony. Accompanied by a talented drummer, the group has put out an EP of quick, upbeat indie-folk anthems. 

11. The Harmaleighs

Nashville-based genre-bending duo The Harmaleighs have drummed up a deliciously melodic blend of dreamy indie and fun pop. Their voices dance seamlessly among garage-rock guitar and generally minimalist arrangements.

12. Sawyer

Sawyer is made up of Kel Taylor and Emma Harvey, two young singers who have teamed up to put out seriously addictive sunny indie tracks. The Nashville duo are talented beyond their years, combining twinkly, bubbly instrumentation with charming vocal riffs.

13. Laney Jones

Accompanied often by her backing band the Spirits, singer-songwriter Laney Jones has perfected the recipe for rollicking indie anthems. Her sugary vocals are the ideal companion to her high-powered instrumentation, churning out utterly addictive tracks. As impressive as that is, she can also slow it down, getting ghostly with lush melodies and dreamy vocals. 

14. Alsarah & The Nubatones

Sudanese singer-songwriter (and ethnomusicologist!) Alsarah is a dream. Together with her band, the Nubatones, she offers her talent in the form of hypnotic and stunning percussive-led tracks sung in Arabic. Every song is packed with flavor and flair, each more engaging than the last.

15. Thao Nguyen

Thao Nguyen has been putting out profound folk-pop gems for over a decade now, both solo and with her band, the Get Down Stay Down. The fabric of her discography is woven by her reedy voice, phantasmal strings-based instrumental solos, rapid rhythms, and sincere storytelling.

Because The Music Mermaid loves you, we've put together a playlist so you can easily enjoy the mass talents of these musical masterminds... along with 35 extra songs from other awesome women across all genres. 

You can listen below and connect with us for more music magic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Featured photo credit: The Wild Reeds by Michael Delaney

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