Exposed: 10 Female Guitarists You Should Know, Part 5

This edition of Exposed is a little different than those I’ve done in the past. Why? Because it has a theme.

You might know I'm producing an event at the end of August called the Women’s Music Summit. In the throes of creating this event, I’ve come across a slew of talented guitarists. Some I’ll have the pleasure of meeting at the Summit; others have just crossed my path while I’m knee deep in the event’s production.

All of them made me smile. Once again, the variety of talent is what surprises and delights me the most. From the rockin’ wailer to the delicate fingerstylist, I love ‘em all.

So check out these talented ladies and if you are so inclined, check out the Women’s Music Summit Facebook at the end of the month for some photos and videos of our musical adventure!

Polina Kourakina

Polina Kourakina has a special talent. She combines folk, jazz and soul into something very sweet and passionate. During the past six years, she has honed her sound, and it’s continually evolving. Her soothing voice coupled with her fabulous acoustic guitar dexterity ignites a shared intimate experience with her listeners.

And her songwriting is top notch too. A happy talent trifecta! Here’s a live video of Kourakina playing her track “Liquor and Wine.” Kourakina is playing a couple of music festivals later this month. Check her site to see if they’re near you!

Yvonne Doll of The Locals

If you’re searching for singer/guitarist Yvonne Doll and her band The Locals, you’ll find their website housed at And they do. Rock, that is! Yvonne was one of the winners of a scholarship to the Women’s Summit sponsored by Dean Markley USA, and her obvious skill accompanied by a punky attitude is what sealed the deal.

Based in Chicago, Yvonne and The Locals have been dishing it out their own blend of indie-pop-punk-alternative-you-gotta-love-it special sauce since 1998, and they have a nice chunky local following to show for it. Their latest release is an EP called SALT that was produced by Steven Gillis of Filter fame.

Here’s a fun video for their song “Everything Must Go.”

Sonia Montez

Serene, beautiful and skilled. And what a voice! Listening to Montez makes you want to fall in love. Or at least run through a field of daisies. Her silky, Norah-Jones-esque tone screams “Put me on a movie or TV soundtrack!” And her delicate guitar accompaniments are artfully composed and performed. It’s the stuff goosebumps are made from.

Montez jumped into the NYC open-mic scene at the age of 14 with veterans Kimya Dawson and Regina Spektor. She’s opened sold out shows for Matt Nathanson, Jessie Bailyn, Kaki King and The Mountain Goats. Montez is slated to release a new album in the fall of 2012. Personally, I know for sure I’m gonna check that one out!

Here she is singing her song “Red Moon.” Just gorgeous.

Julia Kosterova

Russian-born Julia Kosterova is speeding fast down the road to international fame. Her remarkable dexterity and technical abilities has won her worldwide recognition and multiple awards at international guitar festivals. She has already piqued the interest of LAG Guitars and Hughes & Kettner Amps, both of whom currently endorse her.

Kosterova applies many styles to her original music but mainly focuses on instrumental progressive rock and metal. She is working on her debut album. Check out one of her original shredtastic tunes:

Beth Marlis

Hailing from Los Angeles, Beth Marlis is one of the Golden State's finest jazz players. Marlis also splits her time as a teacher, author and soundtrack composer. It’s no understatement that few musicians bear the talent or tenacity to keep up with this virtuosic music machine. Having cut her teeth in the glitzy LA music scene as a sideman (sidewoman?) for years, Marlis has performed with a genre spanning variety of artists onstage and in the studio.

Catch her in action at Musicians Institute in Hollywood sharing her vast guitar knowledge, where Marlis doubles as an instructor and vice president of education. We’re not worthy! Find out more about Beth Marlis (or buy one of her books!) at

This video of Marlis has some wanky camera work, but stick with it. It’s worth it, I promise!

Chloe Charles

Haunting, lush, beautiful. These words come to mind while the sound of Chloe Charles’ most recent EP, Little Green Bud, creeps its way through your speakers. Backed by an eerie mix of violin, cello and sparse percussion, it’s the perfect canvas for Charles’ gorgeous voice and intensely plucked classical guitar.

Having grown up an hour outside of Toronto deep in the Canadian forest, it’s no wonder that listeners are carried away to an icy, desolate landscape by Charles’ imaginative lyrics and spellbinding guitar work. While she’s toured the far reaches of Canada, US and Europe, her compositions come from a place of total raw talent - she penned the standout track “Soon on a Snowflake” the day she bought her first guitar. Look for Chloe Charles’ full-length debut, Break The Balance, available this January right here.

Here’s a video of Chloe Charles & The Sweetness performing “Business.” Check out that funky bass too!

Donna Grantis

“I love jazz but I’m a rocker at heart,” says Donna Grantis. And thus the Donna Grantis Electric Band, a jazz-rock trio hailing from Canada, makes absolutely perfect sense.

Grantis can rip it up and then display tasteful restraint. And yes indeedy, her guitar chops are particularly well developed! Blues, rock, jazz, it’s all good. Grantis studied Jazz at McGill University in Montreal, and has since moved to Toronto and worked with a diverse roster of talented Canadian acts, including Juno award-winning artists Amanda Marshall, Kardinal Offishall, Divine Brown, Haydain Neal and Kellylee Evans.

Grantis performs regularly with Shakura S’Aida (2011 Maple Blues Vocalist of the Year), soul-rock songstress Saidah Baba Talibah (described as Living Color meets Erykah Badu) and Hill & The Sky Heroes (an alien surf-rock group). And, I love this, Grantis is the guitarist and musical director of the annual Women’s Blues Revue at Massey Hall.

Here’s Grantis on stage with Shakura S’Aida at the North Atlantic Blues Festival.

Paula Jo Taylor

Holy smokes! You want to see some fabulous chicken’ pickin’? Checkout the furious guitar stylings of Paula Jo Taylor. This lady will smoke your head off! Plus, I think she has the biggest smile in the business (after me, of course). Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Paula Jo now hails from Nashville.

She plays lead guitar in the mother-daughter duo The Taylors, with her daughter Amanda stepping up to the mic. I was turned on to Paula Jo by a friend at Ampeg, and he sure was right on the money. The Taylors are artists on Vietti Chili's Vietti Vinyl chili can labels and concert series (Yes, chili. Music and chili? Why not!) Paula Joe plays lead guitar for Roni Stoneman of the famous Hee Haw TV show and is a songwriter for major label artist Cledus T. Judd among others. She’s also played lead guitar for Cledus as well as Billie Jo Spears, Jeanie C. Riley, Tammy Wynette and more. So take a deep breath and jump on in!

Catherine Capozzi of Axemonkee

Gotta love a jungle beat paired with a distorted swinging guitar. Or a gypsy flamenco notefest leading into a killer lead. No joke. Catherine Capozzi and her band Axemonkee take guitar to new genre-bending places. Boston-based Axemonkee hit the scene in 2007 and is an instrumental explosion of guitaralicious surprises. Capozzi’s tasty playing really shines.

A native of Connecticut, Capozzi began playing guitar at the age of ten. After college, she moved to Boston and paid her dues in a number of local rock bands, including the critically lauded All the Queen’s Men. She was tapped to play guitar for several productions by The Boston Rock Opera. Capozzi also spent two years as the guitarist for Ziaf, a well-respected Edith Piaf tribute act. If you thought there was nowhere new for guitar to go, check out Capozzi and be happily wrong, wrong, wrong!!

Here’s a video of Axemunkee performing Kinetic Gypsy.

June Millington

With her long flowing white hair, you might think June Millington is an apparition. A guitar slinging spirit, if you will. But if you look a little closer you’ll see a woman who has lead the movement to support female musicians more than just about anybody.

Now that’s a player after my own heart. June Millington started out on ukulele as a child, but moved to guitar and formed a succession of all-girl bands. In 1969 June and her bass playing sister Jean were in Hollywood with their band Fanny, the first all- women's rock band to be signed to a major label.

Now that’s my kind of pioneer! With Fanny June toured with Chicago and Dr. John. But being a serious axe slinger wasn’t enough for June. She’s had her hand in sound recording and producing. And in 1987 she co-founded the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA), a teaching, performing and recording facility dedicated in supporting women and girls. Yeah baby! Check out her song on her website, “Play Like a Girl.” Awesome.

Here’s a video of June and Jean playing “Terrible Things.”

Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the co-producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band, Summer Music Project. More at

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