As we gear up to celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognise and honour the groundbreaking achievements of women across all industries.
In the world of music, women have been making waves and breaking barriers left and right, proving time and time again that there is no limit to what they can achieve. From record-breaking chart success to historic Grammy wins, women in music have been making history in a big way, and we’re here to celebrate and showcase some of the most impressive feats of recent times.
So, let’s take a moment to shine a spotlight on the incredible women who are shaking up the music industry and making their mark on history.
The ‘First Lady of music’ Beyonce made history in February when she set a new record for most Grammy wins by anyone ever: 32, which means she also holds the record for Most Grammys won by a female artist. She is also now tied with her husband Jay-Z for the most Grammy nominations (88 each).
And this year Beyonce also has the honour of being inducted into the Guinness World Records Hall of Fame for her musical achievements and recognition of how she promotes “female empowerment, focusing on feminine issues, and telling stories from a woman’s perspective”.
She appears in this year’s Guinness Book of Records for multiple achievements including First act to debut at number one with their first first six studio albums (a record she’s already broken with the release of Renaissance) and Highest annual earnings for a female singer.
Fun fact: Beyoncé’s name has a special meaning! Her mother, Tina Knowles, chose the name Beyoncé as a tribute to her maiden name, Beyincé, and to honor her Creole heritage. The name Beyoncé is also said to mean “beyond others” in French.
R&B star SZA was named 2023 Woman of the Year at the Billboard Women Music Awards this month, which honours the music industry’s most talented, impactful women.
Her award came as her second album SOS was spending its 10th week on top of the Billboard 200 (bonus, it’s only the 8th album to do so). Her single Kill Bill from the album peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart.
Throughout her career, SZA has won a Grammy Award from 14 nominations, a Golden Globe nomination, and an Academy Award nomination.
She also has an American Music Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, two BET Awards, including Best New Artist in 2018, and received the Rulebreaker Award at the Billboard Women in Music event in 2018. SZA also won the Soul Train Music Award for Best New Artist in 2017 and in 2002 won with Doja Cat for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their hit collaboration Kiss Me More.
Fun fact: SZA’s stage name stands for “Sovereign Zig-Zag Above Queen”, which she has said represents the unconventional and zig-zagging path she’s taken to get where she is today, while still maintaining a sense of royalty and power.
Taylor Swift has been making headlines once again for her impressive achievements in the music industry.
In March of this year, the singer-songwriter had a whopping 10 albums charting at the same time in the Billboard 200 albums music chart, a rare feat accomplished by only five other acts since the 1960s.
Notably, Swift is also the most-streamed artist on Spotify, having recently overtaken Ariana Grande. With a total of 12 Grammys, an Emmy, 40 American Music Awards (the most ever won by an artist), and 29 Billboard Music Awards (the most won by a woman), Swift’s accolades speak for themselves. On top of all this, she’s also a massive advocate for artists to be fairly compensated by streaming giants.
Fun fact: Taylor Swift holds the record for the shortest song to ever chart on the Billboard Hot 100 with her song Stay Stay Stay, which clocks in at just two minutes and 59 seconds.
Receiving an award in each of the four major Grammy categories is a significant achievement, and in 2020, Billie Eilish made history by becoming the youngest person ever to do so at the age of 18.
Eilish’s album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” took home the coveted Album of the Year award, while her chart-topping hit “Bad Guy” earned both Record of the Year and Song of the Year honors, in addition to her win for Best New Artist. Notably, the album also won for Best Pop Vocal Album.
And if that weren’t enough, Eilish has recently landed a spot in this year’s Guinness World Records for Most consecutive Grammy nominations for Record of the Year (female), as well as for becoming the youngest person to win the ‘Triple Crown’ of film music awards, snagging an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy for her James Bond track, No Time to Die, at just 20 years old.
Fun fact: Billie Eilish’s love for the colour green is so strong that she has even dyed her hair neon green and her bathroom is entirely decked out in the colour, from the walls to the sink and even the toilet seat!
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Here’s some more trailblazers
The most awarded female artists
Recognising the most awarded female artists is no easy feat, given the numerous organisations that bestow accolades upon musicians. However, when it comes to the sheer volume of wins across a broad range of award shows, the top spot belongs to Taylor Swift, followed closely by Beyonce, Shakira, Celine Dion, Madonna, Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton.
Notably, at the MTV Video Music Awards, the most coveted prize, the Moon Person, has been won by four trailblazing women: Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift, who have collectively amassed an impressive 79 awards.
And while several female artists have earned Grammys for album, record, and song of the year, only Adele has achieved this impressive feat twice – first with her album ’21’ and its hit single ‘Rolling in the Deep’ in 2011, and later with ’25’ and ‘Hello’ five years later.
Australian music wins
And looking at Australian music charts, Aussie singer songwriter and producer Tones and I still holds the record for a song with the most weeks at number 1, with her breakout hit Dance Monkey spending 24 weeks in the top spot.
Impressive sales records
Madonna holds a Guinness World Record for being the “Best-selling female recording artist of all time” with 300 million or more records sold. Below Madonna – though no less incredible – sit six women who have sold 200 million to 299 million records: Rihanna, Maria Carey, Whitney Houston, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Celine Dion.
The best-selling albums of all-time by women are Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard from 1992 with 45 million copies sold, and Shania Twain’s Come on Over with around 40 million copies.
Social media followings
And in terms of social media followings, on Instagram, Ariana Grande sits at #7 position for number of followers, closely followed by Beyonce at #9.
Katy Perry is the most followed woman on Twitter, with more than 108 million followers (also sitting at #4 spot overall) followed by Rihanna at #5, Taylor Swift at #7 and Lady Gaga at #10.
In the words of Beyonce, Who runs the world? Girls!
These impressive achievements and record-breaking moments in music only further prove that women are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
From chart-topping hits to sold-out arenas, female artists have continuously made history in the music industry and paved the way for generations to come.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s remember to applaud the countless women who have shattered glass ceilings and made waves in their respective fields. And as we look to the future, we can only imagine the amazing accomplishments yet to come from the next generation of fierce, talented women in music.