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Celebrate independence with powerful women in music!

“Founding Fathers?” Why not make the fireworks, mojitos and burgers on the grill about living a free, liberating life? This post is dedicated to explosive women in music who used their art to expand what women could say and do. Let’s celebrate the freedom and power to let our hair down, embrace change and prosper! There are a mix of genres here – hope you enjoy.

  • Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
  • Janis Joplin – Ball and Chain
  • Jill Scott – Hate on Me
  • Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y.
  • Miranda Lambert – Gunpowder and Lead
  • Dolly Parton – Nine to Five
  • Bessie Smith – Empty Bed Blues
  • Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do With It?
  • Kelly Clarkson – Miss Independent
  • Madonna – Sorry
  • Beyoncé – Sorry


Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

This glorious diva’s 1978 single is classic choice for karaoke night, but there’s more to her story. She was a victim of sexual abuse in childhood and adulthood. This year, she launched IWillSurvive.org a charity and online community for survivors to tell their stories.

Quoted by PEOPLE magazine: “it lifts you up out of the muck and mire, gives you a desire to survive, and then inspires you to reach down inside and pull up fortitude that helps you to plow through whatever difficulties that you’re having,” Gloria Gaynor.

Fun Facts:

  • Has 6 siblings
  • I Will Survive was the only song to earn a “Best Disco Recording” Grammy
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology


Janis Joplin – Ball and Chain

Loud, proud, vulgar and unapologetic, she died at a tragically young age, but her belting voice and late 60’s rock-and-roll attitude is unforgettable.

Fun Facts:

  • Was a good student and worked at her local library as a kid
  • One of her greatest influences was Bessie Smith
  • Her last recording was a birthday song to John Lennon
  • Was arrested for indecent language toward a police officer at a show in 1969


Jill Scott – Hate on me

My personal favorite. She’s a 3-time Granny R&B star and core-wrenching lyricist.

“Hate on me, hater, now or later, Cause I’m gonna do me…What I got I paid for…You cannot hate on me ’cause my mind is free, Feel my destiny, so shall it be…”

Fun facts:

  • Shares a birthday with Maya Angelou
  • Launched a line of greeting cards with Hallmark this year
  • Starred in Steel Magnolias and prepping for upcoming film Flint with Queen Latifah. Speaking of…


Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y.

For 90’s rap lovers, Queen Latifah was one of the first prominent female rappers to claim fame and this was her Granny-award winning single.

Fun Facts:

  • Real name is Dana Elaine Owens (Latifah means “very kind” in Arabic)
  • Started her career in music at age 19
  • Soon to star in Flint, a movie with Jill Scott


Miranda Lambert – Gunpowder and Lead

“I’m going home gonna load my shotgun, wait by the door and light a cigarette…I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of – gunpowder and lead.”

Fun Facts:

  • Temporarily homeless as a child
  • Her parents were private investigators
  • Spoke out against Chris Brown’s domestic violence and his 2015 Grammy award


 Dolly Parton – Nine to Five

It’s also a movie!

“They just use your mind and you never get the credit, It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it, 9 to 5, yeah they got you where they want you, There’s a better life, and you dream about it, don’t you?,It’s a rich man’s game no matter what they call it…”

Fun Facts:

  • Nominated for 2 Academy Awards, 1 Tony Award and an Emmy Award
  • Dollywood Foundation gives books to children every month from birth to kindergarten
  • Has 12 siblings


Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Another rock-and-roll artist, several decades later. Tina survived an abusive relationship with husband Ike Turner, left him and came back stronger than ever with this song.

Fun Facts:

  • “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” was a number one hit 24 years later
  • Real name is Anna Mae Bullock
  • Won 8 Grammy awards and still sings today


Bessie Smith – Empty Bed Blues

She rose to fame as the “Empress of the Blues”, a genre that was initially dominated by women! Singing about sexual promiscuity was a big deal in the 20s.

Fun facts:

  • She was bisexual
  • Chased a dozen Ku Klux Klan members out of one performance
  • Sold 750,000 copies her first record


Kelly Clarkson – Miss Independent

Pretty obvious, but crucial addition to the list. She is a 3-time Grammy award winner with double platinum albums.

Fun Facts:

  • Was living out of her car before she auditioned for American Idol at age 19, and won
  • Has written 2 children’s books
  • Raised $10,000 for charity March of Dimes


And to top it off: Beyoncé and Madonna, two of Forbes’ richest self-made women, with fiercely unapologetic hits titled: “sorry.”

Happy Independence Day!