What Role Did Women Play In The Development Of Jazz Music?

by Melody VargoSeptember 10, 2021,

Women have contributed throughout the many eras of jazz history, both as performers and composers. In the 1920s, women singing jazz music were not many, but those who did perform included Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. 

The first significant blues performer was Mamie Smith, whose song "Crazy Blues" became a hit in 1920. However, it wasn't until later that women began producing original compositions with their lyrics and instrumental accompaniment. 

In the 1930s-1950s era, there were very few female singers performing on stage or recording albums because they had to take care of home life. But even then, the recognition did not go far. ItAfter960, when Betty Carter started her career, things changed for good for all female musicians across America.

Women have been a part of every aspect of jazz music since its creation. They were instrumental in bringing it to life and making it what it is today. They’ve been involved from the very beginning, even though their contributions haven’t consistently been recognized.

Some fantastic female artists from different eras worth mentioning who have impacted this genre are Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, Shirley Horn, and  Nancy Wilson.

Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae, Maxine Sullivan, Anita O'Day, Cassandra Wilson, Dee Dee, Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, Madeleine Peyroux, Jane Monheit, Tierney Sutton, and Norah Jones are the names of some more remarkable ladies in Jazz music.

They were not consistently recognized for their contributions, but they still impacted the industry nonetheless. In fact, many female musicians helped shape this genre into what it is today.

Many women have contributed to this genre throughout history both as performers and composers, but there are still some whose names aren’t widely known or celebrated for their work.

To learn more about how jazz music was created, read this blog and explore the Jazz world.

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