Despite gender inequality during the sixties, many of the leading lights were women.
They overcame prejudices and hardships to become leaders of various genres and left an indelible mark on music to this very day.
Here are some of the most famous ones (and we had to leave out many!).
First a tribute to Tina Turner
Umm Kulthum, who started her singing career as a teenager, dressed as a male Bedouin to avoid gender prejudice. Read this lovely book by one of our students!
Audrey Hepburn is our second female heroine of the sixties.
Here she is in what might be considered the epic feminist song of the era.
Her voice is dubbed though (can you tell?). From “My Fair Lady”.
Without you, from My Fair Lady
Here is what she might have sounded like had there been automatic pitch correction in the sixties!!
Here is the modern version of this song:
Carole King (Carol Klein) was a teenager when she wrote the music to this mega-hit with Gerry Goffin. It became a hit for the Shirelles.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Amy Winehouse
Carole King also co-wrote Chains, covered by none other than the Beatles, Pleasant Valley Sunday (performed by the Monkees), and into Something Good (covered by Herman’s Hermits) and You Make me Feel like a Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin). And many more!
I’m into Something Good (Herman’s Hermits)
Wow! Aretha Franklin!! Wow!
Like Carole King, whose original name was Carol Klein, Mama Cass changed here name (from Ellen Naomi Cohen).
Her quasi- torch song, Dream a little dream of me, became a great sixties hit, although it was actually written in the early 1930s.
Mama Cass was a dominant force in the Mamas and the Papas. She died too young.
Mama Cass – Dream a little dream of me
Judy Collins is another star of the sixties, highly talented singer and musician with an uncanny knack of picking immortal songs, popularizing Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Paxton, Gordon Lightfoot.
with Leonard Cohen singing “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”
Joni Mitchell, another Canadian (!) is one of the most prominent songwriters and performers from the sixties to the present.
Among her hits are Both Sides Now, Chelsea Morning, Woodstock, and Big Yellow Taxi.
Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell in concert 1970
Here is an early appearance on Canadian TV, before she was Joni Mitchell!!!!
Joni Anderson (Joni Mitchell) – I was Born to Take the Highway!!
Here is an e-book on Joni Mitchell, written by one of our students!
Grace Slick was writer musician, the soloist of Jefferson Airplane, scoring two megahits with “Someone to Love” and “White Rabbit”.
Somebody To Love
Grace Slick – Let it go
Grace Slick profile. CBS (aired: 08/03/09)
Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart
Marianne Faithfull was a muse for the Stones, made a huge hit out of “As tears go by” and figures in some of their famous songs.
“Sister Morphine” is a song written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull released a version of the song as the b-side to her 1969 single “Something Better” on Decca Records, 21 February 1969.
This appears to be a music video either compiled by or simply broadcast on European television network Arte, likely some time in the mid 80’s.
Diana Ross and the Supremes were one of the only American bands to compete successfully with the Beatles.
Diana Ross & The Supremes Baby Love
The Best of The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show
Someday We’ll Be Together – Diana Ross & The Supremes
Other prominent soul singers of the sixties included Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and others.
Foreign singing stars included Astrud Gilberto who was lucky enough to sing “Girl from Ipanema”. Astrud died June 5, 2023,
Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz: The Girl From Ipanema– 1964
And how could we leave the Amazing Women of the Sixties without including Joan Baez.
Whether you like her singing or not, she is an indomitable force in this decade and well beyond.
Joan Baez Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right Bob Dylan cover
And Donna Donna, originally a Yiddish song