Yes, it’s time once again to present to you 10 uber-talented female guitarists you may never have heard of! They rock, they finesse, they shine. From the classic singer/songwriter to the ferocious shredder, these 10 women know their way around six strings!
So sit back, relax and peruse the fabulous ladies presented herein. And while you’re at it, check out our past Exposed artists for even more undeniable talent. You can find the past three Exposed columns under RELATED CONTENT to the left.
It is no wonder British-born Joanna Shaw Taylor was discovered at age 16 by Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart. She puts her soul into playing the blues, and people are catching on to her talent. Even the Queen! Taylor recently played with Annie Lenox’s band at Buckhingham Palace for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, wowing a crowd of 12,000 with her extended solo.
Taylor has released two studio albums, White Sugar (2009) and Diamonds In the Dirt (2010). Both have peaked at No. 8 in the US Billboard Top Blues Albums chart. Needless to say, she has mad guitar skill and a hearty voice. She took home the awards for Best Female Vocalist and Songwriter of the Year for her song “Same As It Never Was” from Diamonds in the Dirt at the 2011 British Blues Awards.
Look out for her upcoming record, Almost Always Never ,set to release on September 17. Here’s a video of her killin’ it at the Colne Blues Festival in 2009.
Self-starter Nori Bucci taught herself to play guitar by ear and by 16 managed to master many advanced fingerstyle and classical techniques before ever taking lessons. In 2002, her skill placed Bucci second in the North American Rock Competition. That same year, Bucci became the lead guitarist of an instrumental fusion band called Gamalon, in which her chops undeniably outshone the others in the band.
In her own home studio, Bucci composed and recorded two albums, Speak To My Soul (2000) and Tales of A Dream (2003). She is working on her third album. Watch this video of Bucci playing with Gamalon, it’ll blow your mind!
Erica Chase is a rock star and a pop star. Though influenced at a young age by The Beatles, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, she says she has “always dreamed about a Top 40 kind of singer-songwriter career.” Chase seamlessly blends both genres into something she can truly call her own unique style. Armed with her guitar and a deep, powerful voice, Chase is on the rise to the top. Her dream of landing the Top 40 charts just might become reality sooner rather than later.
Dana Strum, bassist for Slaughter, is producing Chase’s upcoming debut album, which is set to release some time this year. Check out the music video for her original song “We Can Fly.”
I know this column is about guitarists, but ZZ Ward’s voice is what will win you over. It just so happens she’s pretty good at guitar, too. Her father, who wrote and sang in blues bands, influenced Ward at an early age. She lists Etta James and Big Mama Thornton as two major role models. Her hip-hop background developed at a later age when she started writing and performing with local rappers in Eugene, Oregon.
Her voice is genuinely captivating. Ward released an EP earlier this year, titled Criminal. Her song “Til The Casket Drops” was recently used in a promo for ABC Family’s show Pretty Little Liars. You can try to catch her at a show as she is currently on tour in the US. Here’s a video of a live performance of “Til The Casket Drops.”
Based in Brooklyn, Jenny Owens Youngs is a singer-songwriter who picked up the guitar at 14. Her smooth, soft voice mixed with her heartfelt lyrics and passionate guitar-playing make for an absolutely wonderful listening experience. That’s probably why Youngs’ songs have been featured on popular shows such as Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Privileged, Life Unexpected and Switched At Birth.
Youngs self-released her debut album, Batten the Hatches, in 2005. Her latest album, An Unwavering Band of Light, produced by Dan Romer, was released in February. Youngs comments on the album, “I wanted to explore new territory, mess around with tones and textures that Dan and I hadn’t really dug into before.” Be sure to check it out, and peep her Fall tour dates to see if she’s playing near you! Watch this live video of Youngs and her band playing a song off her new album.
Best known for her work with Zepparella, Sticks and Stones and Lapdance Armageddon, Gretchen Menn chose the solo route last year with the release of her first solo album, Hale Souls (2011). It’s an instrumental album of original compositions that is KICKASS!
As a teenager, Menn really delved into the guitar under the tutelage of classical guitarist Phillip de Fremery, a student of Andrés Segovia. She draws inspiration from classical and rock gods including Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Morse, Frank Zappa and Jimmy Page. Here’s a video of the second single off her album, featuring Stu Hamm on bass and John Mader on drums.
*Fun Fact: After graduating from Smith College with a music degree, Menn went directly to flight school. Two years later, she was licensed to fly regional jets for the airlines. She shreds guitar and can fly jets. What’s another word for "coolest chick ever"?
Shelley Doty adds a fresh and raw energy to any project she joins. “I have a pretty diverse bag of tricks that allows me to navigate different genres,” Doty says. Along with fronting her band Shelley Doty X-tet, she performs solo acoustic and possesses a soulful singing voice. She draws from many genres including R&B, rock, jazz and funk.
Doty is a versatile lead guitarist and has played with avant-punk-classical cellist Bonfire Madigan Shive, indie jazz artist Pyeng Threadgill and rocktronica group Kindness. Doty commented, “What I bring to a project is my passion – which I fearlessly apply to any type of music I choose to play.”
Doty also owns Howlin’ Records Label, on which she released her three solo albums including her most recent, Over the Line (2004). Check out this live video of Doty performing her song “You Are” at Seattle’s Tost Lounge in 2005.
Butterfly Boucher is a talented multi-instrumentalist with an indie-pop and alternative rock spirit. She has released three albums: Flutterby (2003), Scary Fragile (2009) and her most recent, Butterfly Boucher (2012). On her latest album, Boucher played most of the instruments including guitar, bass, drum, piano, synthesizers and more.
But Boucher doesn’t only work alone. She has toured with the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan as bassist and vocalist. Last year, Boucher helped fellow Aussie Missy Higgins produce her forthcoming album. She also performs and records with Elle Macho, a Nashville-based indie trio.
She has many upcoming shows this summer, mostly in New York and Australia. Watch her official video for “5678!” off her newest album.
Briana Alexis’ musical career began when she was privileged to study guitar with legendary late jazz guitarist, Ted Greene. Shortly after, she graduated from the Grove School of Music Academy in Los Angeles. After graduating, Alexis picked up gigs in the ‘80s, playing with various bands in Southern California.
She now proudly fronts the all-female rock band Absinthe, which she formed in Los Angeles in 2007. Alexis’ heavy guitar sound, mixed with the vocalist’s powerful voice, has led them to share the stage with hot shots such as Billy Idol, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Meredith Brooks and more. Alexis is working on an instrumental solo project with no set release date. Here’s a video featuring a compilation of Alexis’ live performances. Prepare to rock!
A little bit experimental, a little bit traditional and a whole lotta good! Amanda Monaco spreads herself between her quartet, Deathblow, a jazz and improvisational music ensemble that combines free-bop sensibilities with through-composed pieces for that you never know what might happen next experience.
With alto/baritone saxophonist Michaël Attias, bassist Sean Conly and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, this quartet performs a mix of Amanda's original compositions and modern twists on classic and obscure jazz repertoire. Amanda explains the heavy sounding moniker, “A project that doesn't really have anything to do with the name, but my husband's fascination with metal prompted it, and I couldn't come up with anything else, so here it is.”
She also participates in several other musical endeavors including The Pirkei Avot Project, a group that performs music composed to excerpts from an ancient collection of rabbinical wisdom. Monaco is also an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music. Monaco will be playing at the NAMM show this summer on Friday, July 13, with Ernie Jackson at the All Star Guitar Night.
Here’s an original Amanda Monaco composition called “A Nespresso Moment.”
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 mad-sun.com.