A look at how women over came adversity though music in our society over the years.
Early 1900’s (1940)
Mid 1900’s (1960)
Late 1900’s (1990)
Why women were treated differently over the years
In this presentation we will exploring women and
the adversity they have overcome though music.
We will be starting in the classical era and
discover many interesting women along the way.
We will realize what the women of the 1940’s,
1960’s and 1990’s went though and over came .
Then we will explore the present to see where
women are today.
The classical era was the one of the more terrible
eras for women in terms of them being looked at
as equals to men. There were many talented
women composers and musicians that were not
able to be on stage due to their gender. They were
suppressed in the ways of how they were able to
express themselves, dress, education and their
role as a woman. Though they were able to play
music they were never able to experience the
stage, but kept continuing on with their passion
paving the way for the many female composers
and musician in the future.
Isabella Leonarda ( September 6, 1620 – February 25,
1704) was an Italian composer from Novara. At the
age of sixteen Isabella entered the Collegio di S Orsola,
an Ursuline convent, where she taught music. She
acceded to the position of mother superior in 1686, and
by 1696 she was Madre vicaria.
Leonarda wrote over 200 works, all of which are
preserved in the Biblioteca del Liceo Musicale in
The first of Leonarda's works to be published were
contained in a collection edited by the late Maestro Di
Capella of the Novara Cathedral, Gasparo Casati (1610-
1641) and was published in 1642. She went on to
publish twenty collections of her music in her lifetime.
Women in classical music have long been on the
frontiers on the struggles for equality. This era was
hard for women, they had to suppress their talents
and watch the men succeed, but I feel that this
gave them more of a drive, and they continued on
composing and playing music. Like Isabella
Leonarda did, she kept composing and teaching
music to other women even though she knew she
would never play on stage. She kept playing
because it was her passion as it was the passion of
the other women who lived in this time.
The 1940's were dominated by World War II.
Women were needed to replace men who
had gone off to war, and so the first great
exodus of women from the home to the
workplace began. Women were able to join
the entertainment world, in bands or in solo
acts, the names of the groups or solo acts
usually ended with –ell or –ette meaning
“little”. Women had to break stereo types and
aim high to succeed in the industry.
Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) Fitzgerald was
born in Newport News, Virginia, she loved listening to jazz
recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell
Sisters. She idolized the lead singer Connee Boswell. She was
homeless for a while after she ran away from home because of an
abusive step father. She made her singing debut at 17 on
November 21, 1934 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. She
pulled in a weekly audience at the Apollo and won the opportunity
to compete in one of the earliest of its famous "Amateur Nights".
She married a few times, all of them ending in divorce. She had the
most amazing voice, she had an amazing career for an African
American woman of this era. Though she had many struggles in life
she lived her passion, which was singing. At the age of 79 visually
impaired by the effects of diabetes, Fitzgerald had both her legs
amputated in 1993. In 1996 she died of the disease in Beverly Hills,
California. Her song cry me a river gives an insight on her life and
the heart ache she has endured.
The period of 1940 was a time of much
political, social, and economic change for
women in the United States. Despite the
many advances that women made for
themselves during these years, they were
still not treated equal to men. Women in
this era started to be perceived as sexual
icons. They usually sang at night clubs in
tight dresses and laid across pianos
adding a sultry air to the night life.
Civil rights is the largest lasting legacy of the sixties. The
Civil Rights Act of 1965 gave more people the right to
vote and took down the obstacles which prevented
many women from participating in democracy and
exercising their full rights as citizens. The 1960’s has
left America with many positive changes. It is because
of the sixties that people today believe that one
person can make a difference, that one person can
change the world. Women had the right to choose
their own path in the public( careers, music, running
for political office, etc.) . Women in the era started to
be more rebellious and venturing out in society and
music largely due to the fact that the civil rights
movement gave them a voice.
Joan Baez (born January 9, 1941) is an American folk singer, songwriter and
activist. As a young girl a friend of Joan's father gave her a ukulele. She
learned four chords, which enabled her to play rhythm and blues songs
which was also the music she was listening to at the time. Her parents,
however, were fearful that the music would lead her into a life of drug
addiction. When she was 8, at her aunt's behest, Baez attended a concert by
folk musician Pete Seeger, and found herself strongly attracted to his music.
She soon began practicing the songs of his repertoire and performing them
publicly. Baez began her career performing in coffeehouses in the Boston-
Cambridge area, and rose to fame as an unbilled performer at the 1959
Newport Folk Festival. She sang folk songs that talked about the struggles
of women and people in the era they lived in. The early years of Joan Baez's
career saw the civil-rights movement in the U.S. become a prominent issue
and the first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about nonviolence, civil
rights and social change which brought tears to her eyes. Since then she
has actively spoke out against violence in our society. The song “We shall
over come”( the civil-rights anthem), that played at King's 1963 March o
Washington for Jobs and Freedom permanently linked her to the song. She
sang this song so beautifully, it gave me chills. You can hear the passion in
her voice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkNsEH1GD7Q
In this era the civil rights movement was at it’s
peak. Existing and aspiring females in this
era of the industry, that a genuine passion
for music are who made the difference.
These women started to step out of the box
and experience and experiment things in the
music industry for themselves. Though
women were still view as the inferior gender,
they were starting to be respected for their
talents and views.
This is the era woman became more in touch
with their promiscuous side. Their attire
became much more scantly clad, especially in
the music industry. Woman rappers and rap
were at it’s peak. It was more socially
excepted for those women to openly talk
about sex, money and drugs. Women in this
era were able to speak more openly and
knew there were no repercussions for what
they said. They were able to do what ever the
men did at this point with no one thinking
Inga D. Marchand (Foxy Brown) was born September 6,
1978. She is an American rapper of Trinidadian
descent known for his solo projects and numerous
collaborations and a brief stint as a part of hip-hop. A
developed songwriter finds the controversial rapper
confessing her soul. She stated rapping when she was
16 years old. Brown's in-your-face sexuality and
revealing outfits added to her popularity. Her music
career had to take a back seat to her criminal career,
after repeatedly violating the terms of her probation in
various altercations she was sentenced to a year in jail.
Her lyrics mainly consist of violence, sex and drugs.
In this era women were sex symbols. In the rap
scene it was about violence, gangs, drugs and sex.
The women in the R&B scene also started to
become more sexual, in the way they dressed and
what they sang about. There were also women like
Atlantis Morsette, who did not dress sleazy but
her lyrics are very crude. In this era women
struggled with their now found independence and
tried to be like the guys. Singing or rapping about
sex money and drugs. I feel that they saw what
was making the men famous and tried to go
down the same path, but in doing so they lost
sight of their femininity.
In this present day and age women have made a remarkable
transition. The majority of women have found their role at
the working place and in life. Nearly every job is possible
for a woman. More even: Women are scoring much better,
leaving their male contemporaries far behind. Yet many
women still like to see men in charge, looking for a strong
shoulder to lean against. At an average they are well
equipped to take the lead as heads of their families and in
many fields of the society in general, but they also still see
the importance of being a mother and a wife more so than
in the 80’s and 90’s. I feel in this present day and age men
and women have found a good balance in give and take
and feel that society has opened it’s eyes to so much more.
Maxine Vauzelle born in Melbourne, Australia. 
She is 19 years old and an amazing blues, soul
singer and acoustic guitar player. She is a
struggling singer songwriter that lives in an attic.
When she is not performing she is designing he
own clothing line called two hearts. Growing up
she performed in musical theatre. She is striving
to get signed by a label, her goal is to share her
music with the world. Maxine has a voice like have
not heard before. It is so full of honesty, heart and
In this era to me it looks like women are finding their place in
the music industry. Femininity is coming back and women
aren’t dressing as sleazy. I feel they have become more
comfortable with who they are. I feel women in this era
want to be looked at being beautiful not just as a sexual
object. They have seen that over the years they have come
along way; through a lot of doors opening and learning by
trail and error. I feel that the women of today have learned
from the women of the past; their accomplishment,
mistakes and the voice that was given to them by those
women. They are using it to their advantage and the music
industry has blossomed into a variety of different women
expressing themselves though different areas of music.
Viewed as inferior
Lack of rights
where they fit into
In the eyes of the world, women in the music industry
have went from being inferior, to sex symbols and in this
present day they still hold the idolism of sexiness but
they are now respected more than ever before. Today
they are not told what they have to wear, they can
embrace their own individuality. Female artist can
branch out to different areas of music, such as country,
hip-hop, R&B, metal, hardcore, punk rock, rock, ect.
Today music is more diverse due to the fact that women
are treated more as equals.
Over the years women have come a long way; not
only in the world, but also in the music industry.
They have over came many obstacles and
struggles and they are still making that up hill
climb, but is to be expected because life is always
throwing curves. Women have found an
independence that has given them strength to be
proud of who they are. The worlds view on
women has changed for the better and women
have prospered by leaps and bounds in all aspects
of life. They no longer have their choices made for
them; they have the right to choose. Which I am
extremely thankful for.