We Asked 17 Female Artists Who Their Favorite Female Historical Figure Is For WHM

+ which song they’d like to dedicate to that person

As part of Women’s History Month, we asked 17 female artists from all kinds of genres and walks of life to share their favorite female historical figures and what song of their own they’d like to dedicate to them. They all picked rockstar (both figuratively and literally) women whom we should be celebrating all year round along with frisson-packed bangers, so grab a notebook and get your playlist ready.

Abbie Ozard – Oprah Winfrey

Track: “Tv Kween”

“As one of the most influential females in entertainment history, Oprah has been the biggest inspiration when it comes to women chasing dreams and achieving their goals. She struggled in her early life with sexual abuse and family yet she continued to pave the way and inspire every single female in arts and entertainment. This made her the most incredible, strong independent woman she is today. Oprah is a true icon and she will continue to motivate me every single day.”

AJA – Etta James

Track: “Fireflies” (unreleased)

“My favourite female historical figure would be Etta James.  At a young age I would sing her songs and really connect to her vocal power.  Lyrically I would have been too young to connect but she definitely spoke to me through her sound and power vocally.  I know her music made me feel something.  As I’ve grown, and have learned to love writing, I have really connected to her on a different level.  If I could dedicate a song to her, it would be a song I wrote with Jimmy McGorman and Rob Vallier called ‘Fireflies.’  I have not released it yet, but plan to very soon.  It is probably my most deep song I’ve written lyrically.  Hard to sing without crying. “

Annie (Dust In The Sunlight) – Patti Smith

Track: “Former Lives”

“It’s no secret how much I adore Patti Smith – her music, books, and ways of seeing the world are hugely influential to me. Reading ‘Just Kids’ at 22 completely changed my life. I had the honour of seeing her perform at the Royal Albert Hall last year and it was totally electric. In the midst of an incredible set, she told the audience to lift up their arms, feel the blood pumping in their veins, scream I AM ALIVE – igniting fires in the hearts of everyone in the room. Her love for the world and everything in it is inspirational, and I think we should all strive for the compassion and wonder she encourages.

I’d dedicate our latest single ‘Former Lives’ to her, because it’s a song about reconnecting with what you really want out of life. The way Patti writes has always helped me view the world through a more open-minded and curious lens; slowing down to take everything in.”

Automatic – Hedy Lamarr

Track: “Signal”

“We would like to dedicate our song ‘Signal’ to Hedy Lamarr, the 1940s bombshell/actress who helped invent a radio signaling device during World War II, the same technology used for cell phones today. Just because she’s a babe doesn’t mean her intelligence should be overlooked!”

Dorothy – Billie Holiday

Track: “Rest In Peace”

“One of the most badass females in history was Billie Holiday. Her childhood was nothing short of horrific, she battled lifelong heroin addiction, and she was arrested for prostitution. She became the first black woman to sing with a white orchestra and pioneered a new sound in Jazz music. Billie left us with a legacy of beautiful music that has stood the test of time.”

DJ Lindsey – Grace Jones

Track: “Nipple to the Bottle,” “My Jamaican Guy,” “Nighclubbing,” & “Private Life”

“Grace Jones means so much to me since I first discovered her as an awkward, tall, skinny, dark-skinned girl with natural hair. Her music, the roles she played in movies like Conan The Destroyer, A View to a Kill, Vamp and Boomerang. She was the sexy badass who was so carefree, she made me feel empowered to be comfortable being myself. I selected songs by Grace Jones herself that made me a lifelong fan.”

Jennie Harluk – Shania Twain

Track: “Just Like That”

“I’d like to dedicate my song “Just Like That” to Canadian Pop/Country artist Shania Twain. I believe Shania Twain changed the face of country music with her pop blend and flirty, funky lyrics in a way country music hadn’t seen before. I admire her fluidity in genre and that has inspired me to explore all genres and moods for my own music! I think this is evident in my song “Just Like That” as it holds some of the same cross – genre sounds along with quirky lyrics comparable to Shania!”

Julia (Keaper’s bassist) – Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou

Track: “In Your Hands”

“My favourite female historical figures would be Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou – Frida Kahlo’s art portrayed the honest and raw beauty of women. I admire her uniqueness in diverging from the traditional portraits of women at the time.I also really admire the strength and wisdom of Maya Angelou, whose poetry and incredible personal journey is really inspiring to us. I’d love to dedicate our song “In Your Hands” to them!”

Haley Blais – Patti Smith

Track: “Coolest f*cking b*tch in town”

“Anytime I need a little extra boost of confidence or inspiration, I try to harness the energy of Patti Smith. An absolute powerhouse and legendary artist, I dedicate my new single ‘Coolest f*cking b*tch in town,’ to the coolest fucking bitch herself, Patti Smith.”

Helena Gao – Ada Lovelace

Track: “Cybergirl”

“Ada Lovelace’s place in history really resonates with me. In 1848 she wrote the first computer programme . She wasn’t very well-known during her lifetime and her invention was only considered notes, even though she’s world-famous today. Being a woman in a  field which consists mostly of men, people are much more likely to discredit your work. 

My song ‘Cybergirl’ is about social media stalking, which probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for computer programming.  That’s why I’d like to dedicate it to Ada Lovelace, to give credit where it’s due.”

Katie Lau (Painted Zeros) – Bell Hooks

Track: “Break” 

“I’ll dedicate ‘Break’ to bell hooks. Her book All About Love is one of the most important texts I’ve read, and I hope to live by her ethic of love. She showed me that woundedness is not cause for shame, that forgiveness is an act of generosity, and that “to know love we have to tell the truth to ourselves and to others.”

Maddy – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Track: “Island”

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explained and defined feminism (amongst other themes) throughout her TED Talk and her book with the same title We Should All Be Feminists. She changed and defined feminism for me, for the better. I think that my song ‘Island’ is relatable to women, whose independence is (or is becoming) a necessity to exist in a world dominated by and structured around men.”

Maríe Louise (Lead singer of Gorgeous) – Hypatia of Alexandria

Track: “Divine”

“I will dedicate my women history month to praise one of the first woman philosophers. Hypatia of Alexandria was a woman recognised for her mathematical talents, which often excelled the skills of her male colleagues. Despite this, her gender cost her life and the deserved recognition. It is frightening that a story such as hers does not feel unrealistic being found in today’s world, despite a time-lapse of 1600 years. I wish for a future, wherein women are not shamed or ridiculed for their talents, but praised and recognised for their work.”

Matilda Cole – Empress Matilda

Track: “Bite Down”

“My favourite female historical figure is probably Empress Matilda. On a trip to Normandy when I was five years old I discovered that there was once almost a queen who shared my name, and have since set about discovering all I can about her. Matilda was the rightful heir to the throne in 1135, but it was snatched from her by her cousin Stephen du Blois. She then crossed England to take the crown by force and ended up capturing Stephen!!! What a legend!!! But unfortunately, she was opposed by the majority of the sexist English population at the time because they didn’t want a female monarch, so after she escaped from a failed capture attempt, she retreated and lived a lovely life in northern France. All that considered, I would love to dedicate (one Matilda to another) my next single ‘Bite Down’ to her – which is all about strength, courage, fighting and insecurity. I hope she liked indie pop.”

MIREI – Yoko Ono

Track: “Lonely In Tokyo”

“I truly respect Yoko Ono as one of the most influential, bravest Japanese woman. Her work of art is often influenced by the actions that surround her, and I feel the same for my music too. Expressing through music is like breaking down my struggles and I feel like the work reaches its completion when it leaves impact on my listeners – which is something that Yoko Ono has demonstrated. Beyond her cultural roots, she is relatable to me in several ways as an individual and artist.

I wanna dedicate my song ‘Lonely in Tokyo’ to her. This song is not a song that just want you to listen to. It’s the song that I want you to feel something by listening to it. That idea feels closer to her works, and also I’m purely curious how she would feel about this song.”

No Swoon – Agatha Christie

Track: “Wait to See”

“In 1926, Agatha Christie basically created and pulled off her own real life mystery with her sudden ‘disappearance’ around the time she was asking for a divorce from her husband who had fallen in love with another woman. Her disappearance and the search for her made headlines in the newspapers around the world. She was found almost 200 miles from her home 10 days later, using the name of her husband’s lover. Dramatic, maybe, but what a way to stick it to ’em. I’d like to dedicate our song ‘Wait to See’ to Agatha, the queen of anticipation.”

Siné – Etta James

Track: “Broke” 

“So many amazing women have inspired me and my sound throughout my life. I find it really difficult to choose one above all. But if you listen to my latest single ‘Broke,’ I’m sure you can hear the inspiration from one of the biggest soul-singers I know, Etta James and her song ’Rather Go Blind’. She has such a strong voice and when she sings she puts so much passion in every word. On top of that she’s one of the biggest badasses on stage with an attitude you can only admire.”