To say I’m thrilled to see Orianthi on the cover of the April 2013 issue of Guitar World is an understatement.
But what even I didn't realize (until I dug a bit) was that this is only the third time in Guitar World’s history that a female guitarist has graced this place of honor. The first was Chrissie Hynde in March 1981, followed by Courtney Love in January 1999. That’s more than a decade between covers. So now what?!
Well, in case you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of years, it may be starting to dawn on you that guitar isn't just for boys. Yep, there's a slew of killer female players — veterans, newbies and everything in between, of all genres and styles.
I’ve made it my mission to share some of these artists with you for the past two years, and today is no different. So here, for your reading and listening pleasure, are 10 more female guitarists you should know. And yes, there will be a quiz later!
Debbie Davies is a blues guitar legend and 30-year veteran of the road. She has been around, and she has the chops to show for it! Performing as a side woman for years, Davies has shared the stage with the likes of Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs (an all-female band led by the wife of British bluesman John Mayall) and blues god Albert Collins.
As a session player, she has showcased her guitar talents on tons of big records, including albums by Collins and Mayall. A recording artist in her own right, Davies has released 11 solo albums since 1993, each of which demonstrates her blues guitar mastery. Her most recent recording, After the Fall, was written while she was healing from a broken arm. Clearly, nothing can stop Debbie Davies!
All right, enough talk. Let's watch Debbie rip that guitar!
This woman, the daughter of Stanley Jordan, has some big shoes to fill. She calls her music “conscious acoustic soul," and she has a warm, lyrical style. While not claiming to be a guitar virtuoso like her dad, she’s no slouch on the instrument, and her writing has a decidedly positive bent.
As her bio says, “Julia Jordan’s music quenches the ears like cool lemonade.” Mmmm, delicious! In fact, she’s made it her mission to use her music to help spread positive messages and help others. If that’s not enough of a reason to check her out, well, she just sounds good!
Here she performs "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson:
Oh my! Love this. Check out the new album from this irreverent quartet. Ford will have you moving, grooving and generally feeling like you need to shake something!
This rock ‘n’ roll rockabilly romp finds Ford front an center with some witty and addictive vocals, as she also takes on rhythm guitar duties. The Portland roots of this band ooze into each track in a most satisfying way. You owe it to yourself to check out Ford and the entire band as they tour this spring in support of Untamed Beast, which came out February 19 on Partisan Records. I have no doubt we’ll be hearing more from them … a whole lot more.
Here’s their first official single — "Party Kids" — off the new album:
While Brown's inviting voice and delicately strummed acoustic guitar take the forefront (and deservingly so), it's what's going on in the background that seems to set her apart. Brown's band is comprised of African and Caribbean musicians, adding a unique, international flavor to this brand of laid-back pop.
The fact that Rachel was born and raised in New York City with Ethiopian and Bermudian backgrounds only adds to this collage of influences and sounds. And we're not the only ones paying attention! Brown has won multiple awards for her songwriting, while sharing the stage with the likes of Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. She's even been called on stage by Wyclef. So whether you're a fan of pop, hip-hop, or happen to enjoy the sounds of African percussion, the music of Rachel Brown has something for everyone.
Check out Rachel playing her tune "Building Castles":
Hailing from Boston, this guitarist and vocalist made it to the finals in Guitar Player magazine’s Guitar Superstar contest in 2010. Prior to that, she was the recipient of the "Boston's Best Guitarist" award.
Her musical talents have not gone unnoticed in the professional community. Frawlee has been a clinician for Line 6 amps and Seymour Duncan pickups. You can find her holding down lead guitar and backup vocal duties for LoVeSeXy, a Prince tribute band, and fronting her power trio, Starr Faithfull. Frawlee is a perseverant performer who puts it out there on a daily basis. Let’s hope there’s lots more of her to come!
Here’s her interpretation of the Godfather theme. Hell yeah!
Armed with her electric guitar and a raspy, impassioned voice, it's hard to not be drawn in by the music of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, otherwise known as 23-year-old Aly Spaltro.
Weaving her all-to-real lyrics over a minimalist musical backdrop, Spaltro creates a trancelike atmosphere all her own. Many compare her to Janis Joplin, or perhaps it's the landscape of her home state of Maine that influences the music of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Either way, we love it. Speaking of New England, the region has received Spaltro with opened arms; in 2010 she was named Folk Artist of the Year by the Boston Music Awards. Now residing in Brooklyn, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has hit the road, opening for guitar phenom Kaki King.
See what Lady Lamb the Beekeeper's all about in the video for "Between Two Trees" below:
Muriel Anderson has been holding her All Star Guitar Night during the NAMM Show for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how special this woman is! Her specialty is playing the harp guitar, and if you’ve never seen anyone do that, now’s your time to start! Wow.
Anderson is at the top of her game and such a delight to watch! She's the first woman to have won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and she makes playing her incredibly intricate musical lines look easy. Anderson has recorded with Chet Atkins, performed in New York with Les Paul, at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall with the Chicago Symphony and in Tennessee with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. She’s the founder of the Music for Life Alliance Charity, which helps support music education for young people. Take a look at Anderson and then … go practice!
Here she is ripping it up with Tierra Negra:
Born in Germany, Leni Stern originally made a name for herself in jazz circles (Her first nine albums were instrumental) then crossed her talents over into the singer-songwriter realm, garnering consistent praise in the process.
She moved to the US way back when in order to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying film scoring. She gave up film scoring in favor of the guitar and moved to New York City in 1981, playing in various rock and jazz bands. In 1983, she formed a band of her own with Paul Motian on drums and Bill Frisell on guitar. Stern is married to guitarist Mike Stern (no slouch either!) and finds herself focusing on West African collaborations with a fresh groove and unique flavor.
Here’s “In My Dream” performed live at the Iridium in 2012:
Don’t try to keep track of Jocelyn Celaya, aka Radical Classical. Her speedy fingerings and passionate performances will mesmerize, hypnotize. A very talented classical guitarist who has gone in a bit of a different direction, Radical Classical’s tunes are a decidedly intentional amalgam of metal and classical.
RC (may I call her that?!) has won numerous awards and nominations and has performed and headlined at a mixed bag of locations ranging from conservatories and arts theaters, to underground metal festivals nationally and internationally. That’s a way to widen your audience!
Here is her take on "Rally to the Sieg"e from her self-titled Radical Classical CD:
A Southern California native, Robin’s musical education began the moment she met her guitar teacher, Randy Rhoads. Bet ya didn’t see that coming!
Under Rhoads’ tutelage, Robin became an ace six-string player and, while still in high school, parlayed this education into a position as the lead guitarist for the all-female rock band Precious Metal. Precious Metal released several albums, wrote with Heart, Poison and Cheap Trick, toured extensively.
Following the demise of Precious Metal, Robin joined Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s band in support of his 1992 solo album, Out of the Cradle. Robin is just an all-around great performer and a prolific artist. Check out her 2012 release, Everything Has Changed. Sweet, gutsy, passionate. And without a doubt worth your time!
Here she is on tour in France performing “Good Night My Love”:
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 Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Peavey, Jammit, Notion Music, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the founder of the Women's International Music Network at thewimn.com, producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.