Category Archives: Blogs

Good Shit That Happened in 2019

There was undeniably a fuck ton of Bad Shit that happened this year, but let’s end it with a look back at some of the Good Shit we’ve witnessed! Team LOUD WOMEN members Keira, Lucy, Karis, Chris, Tony and Cassie told us which bits of 2019 were their Top Shit.

Photo by Keira Anee – Bikini Kill at Brixton, June 2019

Keira Anee: The picking Up The Pieces EP By The Other Ones deserves a mention I think! Plus I loved the Nova Twins‘ releases, the emergence of Big Sea Creature, every gig I saw Gold Baby, Gaygirl, Junodef, Calva Louise, Ghost Car, Lilith Ai and Cocaine Piss play and a great unexpected album by Amy Studt. Discovered Straight Girl, Sudan Archives, Secondhand Underpants, The Empty Page, Cable Ties and loved seeing Adia Victoria, Gaptooth and band, Pleasure Venom, Miss June and LIINES live! Dammit – and LibraLibra for sure!

Lucy Morgan: Bikini Kill gig, isn’t it.

Cassie Fox: Yessssss. Seeing Bikini Kill kicking supreme ass this summer was hugely inspirational. On smaller stages though, LOUD WOMEN has done a lot this year … we’ve put on some amazing bands, in London, New York, LA and Perth. Too many to mention here (maybe I’ll do a separate 2019 hall-of-fame!) but extra special joy was sparked by T-Bitch, Slut Magic, The Noise and the Naive, GGAllan Partridge, Miss Eaves, HAVVK, Shitsick, Gaptooth, Hagar the Womb, and – fuck it I’ll say it – my brilliant I, Doris, who I am superproud of achieving so much this year. And we got to put on a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, with the awesome ILL! My top highlight was of course LOUD WOMEN Fest in September, where Pleasure Venom absolutely blew my head off and completely made all of the hard work organising the festival worth it.

Karis: For me, DEFINITELY seeing Bikini Kill for the first time and seeing the Gossip for the first time in a long time. But particularly getting to see Big Joanie support both of these bands – I’m so happy that they’re doing so well!

Chris Fox: I really liked that Misfortune Cookie Record. And the Lakes record – the Constance LP. And I really liked Pleasure Venom – I thought they were amazing at LOUD WOMEN Fest. Those are my top LOUD WOMEN things of the year.

Hannah from ARXX – photo by Keira Anee

Tony Rounce: “Good shit that happened in 2019”? How much space have I got!
The unstoppable rise of ARXX on their way to future world domination, the impossible not-to-adore double whammy emergence of the Slugs and Breakup Haircut, the Phoenix-like arrival of Big Sea Creature, truly great records from all of the aforementioned except the yet-to-debut BSC – plus Gaptooth, Personal Best, The Other Ones, Scrounge and Lauran Hibberd, beautiful live and vinyl memorials to Long Teeth, Loud Women 4 and the prospect of Loud Women 5, some super download-only stuff from Lemondaze, Goddammit Jeremiah, Party Fears, I, Doris and above all Currls, great gigs and the prospect of great recordings from newbies Lime and Wife Swap USA, the rebranding of Cryptic Street as Genn (although they’ll always be CS to me), the double-headed vinyl 45 of the year in Bloom’s ‘Ground’ and ‘Escape’, great shows from other old favourites Nervous Twitch, Calva Louise and the Regrettes, a rare chance to see the wonderful Catlow Morris on another wet night in New Cross – so much more besides, and did I mention ARXX (who are always worth a second mention if not more).

“Best good shit gig day of 2019” was the Saturday of the Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May, started it by seeing Cryptic Street in New Cross in the afternoon and ended it by seeing Cryptic Street (again!) at 1AM on Sunday in Brighton, with gigs from Bloom, Lime and ARXX (there they are again!) in between…

“Bad shit that happened in 2019?” Mercifully very little that affected my listening habits, but I’m sad that Wolf Girl called it a day, Queen Zee and the Sasstones fragmented and my lovely, completely adored Bloom went on a hiatus from which I hope with all my heart they will return…

…I’ll raise a glass to the oncoming new decade with the same optimism that I’m saying goodbye to the current one. Let’s try to keep it LOUD!

Dolly Daggerz of Tokyo Taboo: “I’ve been sexually assaulted so many times I can no longer count”

Article originally published on Louder Than War

Dolly Daggerz is the fiery powerhouse behind, at the front of, and often twirling round a pole high above rock band Tokyo Taboo. She recently disclosed online that she had been sexually assaulted during a performance – an assault further compounded by vitriolic backlash from internet commenters keen to blame her for the assault. Clearly some still have lessons to learn from the #metoo movement. With those lessons in mind, Dolly writes about the experience here in her own words (as told to Cassie Fox).

I’ve been sexually assaulted so many times I can no longer count. This is not me ‘bragging’. This is me being brutally honest.  

I’ve found myself in the most absurd and, at times, dangerous situations. The most extreme: Once a man who claimed he was an A&R executive locked me in a room and told me I couldn’t leave until I had sex with him. Luckily I got away, but when I spoke about reporting him I was talked out of it by a barrister friend of mine. He said, ‘Look at your sexy image. No jury will care.’ This seems to be a common theme: If a woman is attractive she becomes the ‘temptress,’ the one in the wrong. Poor men are ‘confused’ and can’t help themselves.  

Now that I’ve added a pole onstage, things have gone from bad to worse, in terms of unwanted sexual attention. But I am not to blame for being a ‘pole addict’. Pole has simply exaggerated the issue that has been there throughout my life from the age of fourteen.  

I remember once walking along a busy main road in the middle of the day. A guy approached me from behind, put his hand up my skirt, and asked ‘Can I have your phone number?’ Seemed a little odd that he felt he could grab what he liked and then ask for my number. How about a simple, ‘Hello?’ Or just leave me alone as I walk along the street with headphones on? He seemed shocked when I was angry, as if he had no idea what he was doing was disgusting and actually illegal. He quickly ran away when I mentioned the police. A common reaction. It’s just ‘a bit of fun’ and that I need to ‘lighten up.’ Such casual assault, as if it doesn’t mean anything to these creeps. 

Now, men, I know this isn’t all of you. And I know some women who haven’t experienced anything like this (albeit very few, after the ‘me too’ movement revealed how awful and widespread this problem is). But there are lots of instances in my life like this. You can victim-shame and blame me, or you can wake up and realise that young women (especially those in the entertainment industry) are very vulnerable. I’ve been in rooms with modelling agents who offer work in exchange for sex. I’ve worked with music producers who have made a move on me simply because they had the upper hand. If you are young, female and dream big you might (naively) think these men will help you. They will guide you in your career as they have the knowledge and experience to do so. But in fact the worst kinds simply take advantage. 

Even as we approach a new decade, women are still massively vulnerable. If a woman walks into a male-dominated space she generally feels unsafe. You won’t catch a man feeling worried about being surrounded by women. At gigs I’m very aware that men are everywhere and it’s so important that women should feel safe whilst watching bands and artists they love. 

Dolly Daggerz of Tokyo Taboo – photo by Cris Watkins
Dolly Daggerz of Tokyo Taboo – photo by Cris Watkins

Things hit a new low for me recently. A guy decided to grope me whilst I was walking back through the crowd after singing in the audience. This has hit me hard. When I am performing I am ‘Dolly Daggerz’: a superwoman character who is physically and mentally strong, a woman who doesn’t take any shit. I’ve dreamt up this persona that, I thought, terrible things could never happen to. So this assault felt like a kick in the face and I was so shocked I could barely react. I went from feeling strong and empowered to small and weak in an instant.  

During our ten-gig ‘Lips Can Kill’ tour I counted five instances of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour: A man asking for a kiss who I’ve never even met before. A man actually kissing me to say goodbye. A drunk man sweeping his hands down my ass when leaving. And so on. It’s something I can shrug off at first. Maybe chat to the guys in my band about it all the next day and be like ‘weirdos…yuck’ but after a while it’s actually exhausting. Hands Off Gretel’s Lauren Tate, who spoke out publicly about this same behaviour recently, revealed that she ‘doesn’t enjoy’ touring anymore due to the harassment she receives. She claims, ‘I had guys taking the piss out of me asking if they “had the consent to kiss me now.” Disgusting.’ Speaking out about it is apparently not always very effective. Following this last assault, what’s been particularly scarring is the backlash about this awful incident online. I’ve had (a very small percentage of) people saying if I dress like a stripper and pole dance, it’s my fault. ‘Of course men will grope at you! What do you expect?’ Then lots of laughing emojis. I’ve had direct messages from fake accounts saying I ‘might as well whore myself’ and should ‘sell naked photos’ as I already ‘sell my body’. Wow, and I thought that I could dress how I wanted whilst on stage and perform how I want without any random old man touching me? Crazy thinking!  

I also read someone saying that posting about sexual assault is ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and that some people do it to ‘seek attention’. All men commenting of course. Another female jokingly wrote that she’s unsure of why she hasn’t been assaulted herself or seen anything at shows. Maybe she’s not ‘good looking enough’ or doesn’t ‘behave in a way that attracts attention.’ Maybe because she is ‘moody and unapproachable at gigs.’ These remarks point to an underlying consensus that it’s about the victim: how they look or act might provoke assault in some way. I’m sure that since performing pole onstage I’ve received more male attention. However I have also been assaulted when walking in the street, when dancing in a club, when singing in a recording studio. I’ve been harassed whilst in full make up, no make-up, in pyjamas, in running gear. This has nothing to do with how hot someone is or what they are doing at the time of assault. If someone wants to grab flesh they will. The victim is not to blame.  

Dolly Daggerz of Tokyo Taboo – photo by Cris Watkins
Dolly Daggerz of Tokyo Taboo – photo by Cris Watkins

Let me write that again: THE VICTIM IS NOT TO BLAME. 

I’ve received hundreds of comments writing how unacceptable this incident was. And mostly men in shock and horror that someone would grab at someone else without consent. But then I’ve read a post with someone confused. ‘Why is someone who dresses so sexy upset with male attention? Stop complaining’.  

Attention is fine. Touching out of turn isn’t. 

When it comes to such a sensitive topic, I wish people would please think before commenting online. Women are made to believe they ‘deserve’ assault, rape and violence. If you dress sexy it’s ‘your own fault.’ If you pole dance or show skin expect to be groped. We are moving into a new decade where I want to encourage women to report sexual assault no matter what the outcome. I wish I had ignored my barrister friend and reported the fake A&R guy who I naively believed wanted to help me.  

Make sure you publicly support women and question the assailant not the victim. A woman could be completely naked and we still need to look at the guy who grabbed her inappropriately. It’s our human right to feel safe.  

Also, a message to young women starting out in music: some male producers are full of shit and want to take full advantage of your hopes and dreams. If it seems to good to be true, sadly, it probably is.  

What am I going to do to feel safer? I’m currently considering hiring security at our gigs (though part of me thinks this is giving in to those guys who don’t know how to behave). Maybe pepper spray in my bra somewhere, microphone in one hand whilst my other hand grips the pole? 


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Slick by name, Slick by nature

by Mollie Tie

Grace Slick has been everything at some point in her career: Sixties hippy chick icon; Seventies rock goddess; visual artist and general musical icon. With one of the most powerful and pure voices in popular music, Slick has earned her place on the list of most influential vocalists in modern music.

Grace Barnett Wing was born October 30, 1939 and spent most of her childhood moving around various parts of the state of California. This early exposure to the Golden State goes some way to explain how Slick came to typify that psychedelic 60s sound that was quintessentially West Coast. Along with The Doors; Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead, Grace Slick pioneered an entirely new genre of music which defines a whole decade.

Grace started her music career as the singer in the band The Great Society.  The band generated quite the following in their native California, and it was whilst singing for the band that Slick composed the song White Rabbit – THE seminal psychedelic rock song that is one of their biggest hits to this day.

In 1966, Slick left Great Society for Jefferson Airplane, attracted by the more professional way the band was run. They re-recorded and released some of their more famous songs including White Rabbit and Somebody to Love both of which became top 10 singles. Jefferson Airplane became one of the most popular bands in the country and earned Slick a position as one of the most prominent female rock musicians of her time. Although they were not a particularly political band, it was not unheard of for Slick to make a political statement-the most well known of which took place in 1968 when she ended a performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by making a Black Power fist.

A personnel change in Jefferson Airplane led to Slick forming a breakaway group called Jefferson Starship whilst also releasing several solo albums. Her solo album Dreams was inspired by her experience going through a substance misuse programme and as her most personal album, was nominated for a Grammy.

Jefferson Starship had several hits – We Built This City; Sara and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. These songs are instantly recognisable and still incredibly popular however Slick was not happy with the musical direction and left the band in 1988.

Slick has been pretty much ensconced in retirement since the mid 1990s and mainly spends her time as a visual artist. She has been outspoken about the fact that she feels too old to maintain her position as rock goddess- in a 2007 interview, she repeated her belief that, “You can do jazz, classical, blues, opera, country until you’re 150, but rap and rock and roll are really a way for young people to get that anger out”, and, “It’s silly to perform a song that has no relevance to the present or expresses feelings you no longer have.”

Slick has been no stranger to controversy throughout her career. Her widely documented struggles with alcoholism were a cause for concern and led to some unfortunate incidents of being too inebriated to perform and being dragged off a game show after abusing the contestants.

Despite the occasional controversies, Slick’s legacy is one of an incredibly gifted singer and super cool rock chick. She was one of the earliest female rock stars with an electrifying stage presence that influenced the likes of Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett.

She was ranked number 20 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll in 1999 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Her vocal performance on the track Somebody to Love is one of the finest examples of rock vocals in modern music and the early Jefferson Airplane tracks that were composed by Slick provided a gold standard that rock chicks would follow for generations.

Skin and the legacy of a rock goddess

by Molly Tie

I’ve been seeing a fair bit of Deborah Dyer in the papers recently and it got me to thinking about her incredibly powerful persona and exciting career. Still relevant; still badass and still not suffering fools, Dyer (A.K.A Skin of Skunk Anansie fame) still deserves kudos for her enduring legacy and unapologetic brand of ‘clit-rock’.

We have Skunk Anansie’s Summer tour to thank for the influx of articles and interviews in which the impact and influence of the band’s musical output is re-celebrated and poured over, and in true bandwagon style I have decided to add to it. Prepare to be influxed.

Skin was born in 1967 and brought up in Brixton, South London. Her childhood was spent surrounded by music. Her grandfather ran his own drinking establishment and Skin witnessed the revelry and camaraderie that people enjoy when drinking rum and having a dance to Prince Buster. With childhood dreams of becoming a pianist, Skin was keen to pursue a career in music.

The vehicle that would propel her to worldwide fame was the band she is most famous for fronting- Skunk Anansie. Formed in 1994, Skunk Anansie were often lumped into the generic Britrock label as this was the time that ‘Cool Britannia’ was the benchmark for quality culture and British-ness was all the rage- British films; fashion and most significantly, music. Nestled in amongst the likes of Oasis, Blur and Supergrass there was a cohort of harder bands like the Prodigy who made for slightly more hardcore listening.

Skunk Anansie were widely considered to be a political band (they once declared that ‘everything is political’), a label given out due to the nature of their lyrics and Skin’s aggressive vocals. They were Britain’s answer to Rage Against the Machine. Skin has been outspoken in her belief that more musicians need to address issue of racism, sexism and homophobia and actively take a stand against it, rather than sitting on the fence. Many aspects of Skin’s image are political without even trying- she is black, she is gay and she is female. Her shaved head and flamboyant fashion was an antidote the mainstream male Brit rockers of the 1990s who intentionally cultivated a more basic, scruffy image. A strong, powerful and intelligent frontwoman was an instant inspiration for a generation of young women.

Skin was also the first black British artist to headline Glastonbury, something we all had to be reminded of when Stormzy was given the title this year.

Skunk Anansie achieved widespread critical acclaim and released a slew of successful singles including Charity; Hedonism, Weak and Charlie Big Potato. The band’s split in 2001 was not the last we saw of Skin. She went on to release two solo studio albums: Fleshwounds (2003) and Fake Chemical State (2006). As a solo artist she has supported Robbie Williams and Placebo on tour; duetted with Pavarotti in front of the Dalai Lama and was even a judge on the Italian version of the X Factor for one season.  

Skunk Anansie reformed in 2008 and have continued to be recognised for their contribution to the British rock scene. You can pick up a copy of their celebratory album 25Live@25 which was released in January this year, as well as a new single What You Do for Love – their first new single in three years.

Continuing the 25th anniversary celebrations Skunk Anansie will be touring Europe throughout the summer of 2019, headlining festivals and their own shows, finishing with a string of UK shows. For a band that have been widely regarded as one of the most exciting live bands you will ever see, it is worth trying to catch them on one of their forthcoming dates. And if you can’t get tickets to see them in person, there is still an extensive back catalogue of absolute bangers to fire you up and tear you apart.

A Musician’s Guide to Finding and working with a Manager

Guest blog by Ella Gregg, Manager of Lucy Mair, and co-founder of 321 Artists

For a musician, especially a solo-musician, the idea of introducing a manager into your project can provide a whole host of thoughts and emotions, and it can strangely be quite a lonely experience making a decision like that for your project. As an artist manager, I thought I’d talk about a few things to think about when looking for a manager, where to actually find one, and how to build your relationship together. I also asked my artist, Lucy Mair, to give her opinions too.

I personally started working in artist management at the age of 18, and fell into the role very accidentally. I was already working for an artist development platform, and through that work I was introduced to a band called Blushes who I started to get to know. I was introduced to their manager at the time, and he invited me to work with Blushes as their social media advisor and booking agent. As time progressed, I got closer to Blushes and their manager was no longer able to put time into the band which led to me managing Blushes. 

Previous to that, I had had no experience at all in artist management, but from believing in the band and being passionate about doing well for them, I worked hard to expand my knowledge and contact list, and within six months the band were featured by NME and played on BBC Radio 1. And casual artist management is becoming a lot more popular, managers aren’t sitting in big offices as a team anymore, it’s done by individual people sat on their sofa, and there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t necessarily need the most experienced manager, you just need someone who is very dedicated and passionate for your project. 

It’s important for you to think about if you necessarily need a manager. Are you at a stage where you just enjoying writing music and playing songs live, or do you want to be an artist? When you get a manager on board, you’re hiring someone to shout about your project, and there may suddenly be a lot more demand for you and your music than you’re used to. If you just want to write and play music whenever you feel like it, a manager might not be the right step for you. And that doesn’t mean you don’t take your music seriously, that just means your motivations might be different to another artist. 

Lucy Mair

Lucy Mair says “I always found it really difficult to balance the ‘corporate’ side and ‘creative’ side of music, I would constantly focus too much on just one and fall behind with the other. Having a manager means I can now almost solely focus on the creative aspects which is the side that I really love and therefore improves the quality of what I put out as I have more time to focus on the music. I knew I was ready for a manager because I knew what I wanted to create and had already established myself as an artist as I had released music with no team whatsoever around me and built the foundations for myself. I guess it is now a case of 321 [Ella Gregg’s company] helping to build on those foundations and progressing to a level of which I could not reach by myself.” 

It’s no secret that managers of emerging artists make very little money, therefore they are often the most passionate people in the music industry and they are putting a lot of time and effort into an artist purely because they believe in the artist they’re working with. For that reason, it’s absolutely vital that you’re willing to replicate that time and effort yourself. Bringing a manager into the project doesn’t mean you can kick your feet up and your manager will work around you; if anything, it intensifies the project and you will be worker even harder than before. I’ve worked with artists who have had the attitude of “I write the songs, what more do you want from me?” and safe to say, that won’t get you very far today. 

Another thing that can sometimes be difficult for artists, especially solo musicians, is the idea of passing over some control over to a manager. From the start, you’ve been the only one making the decisions for you and your project, it’s been like a baby you’ve been protecting, and now you’re passing the responsibilities onto a manager, and that can be intimidating for some people, which is absolutely understandable. A manager doesn’t set out to make your life miserable, you’re forming a partnership, which means you still have a lot of control, if not more than your manager. 

“I was a little bit nervous about passing over control, but only because I have had managers and labels in the past control what I create. The difference this time around is that, with Ella, she had already heard my music and she believed in what I was creating when I was completely in charge of my music, therefore I knew she was not going to try and change what I wrote as she wanted to work with what I was already doing. Whereas, in previous experiences, I had not released any of my own content therefore I was not sure how I wanted to sound and others had an idea of how they thought I should sound.” 

You should be prepared and capable of taking criticism or to be potentially met with negative opinions – as mentioned, you’re a partnership and your manager has your best interests at heart. If you don’t think you can take constructive criticism, it might not be the right time for you. After all, the criticism is there to help you as feedback for you to build on.

“I really enjoy feedback, I trust Ella’s opinion and never feel as if she is trying to push me towards a sound that I do not want.”

Before approaching a manager, you need to understand what you actually want to achieve, and why having a manager will approve your chances of achieving these goals. If you have vision you can share with a potential manager, this will give them a better idea of what you can do together, and it will provide the manager with the confidence that you know where you want this project to go, and shows confidence and passion for success. 

If you do think it’s the right time to find a manager, knowing where to look for one can seem tricky. As I said earlier, freelance artist managers are becoming a lot more popular and can sometimes seem hard to find. I would recommend using social media – find artists similar to you and see who they’re being managed by, maybe see if any other management companies follow them, contact smaller blogs that have featured artists similar to you and see if they recommend any managers. However, don’t forget that I said artist management is becoming a lot less formal, and the role of a manager is changing. If you have a friend who would just be able to help you keep on top of emails, or help transport you and your kit to gigs, or could advise you, that’s a lot of what a manager does. It’s about passion, not experience. And having someone you know and trust already means you’re going to feel more comfortable quicker. 

Having a manager doesn’t have to be as scary as you first thought, and it can be really useful having someone there to fight your corner and someone who will be there for you at 3am if you needed them. But a manager is as much or as little as you want it to be and it’s important to remember that bringing a manager in doesn’t detract any of your passion or power for your project. 

Visit 321 Artists and check out Lucy Mair on Spotify

Dream a little dream … of Mama Cass

by Mollie Tie

Next stop on our epic journey of re-visiting some of popular music’s underrated women, we must go back to the 1941 when Ellen Naomi Cohen was born in Maryland, USA. From birth to her untimely death in 1974, Cohen’s life had it’s harrowing difficulties along with some ground-breaking triumphs. The product of this amazing, and ultimately too short life was a body of work that includes soul, heart and sass.

Cohen is better known to the music world as Mama Cass- one quarter of the musically brilliant yet personally troubled Mamas and the Papas, as well as a successful and critically acclaimed solo artist. She was one of the figureheads of a body positivity movement before anyone even knew what that was, and was the life and soul of the trendy music scene of the 60s- partying hard and singing softly.

Cass started her pursuit of an entertainment career in New York City, trying out for musicals whilst working in cloak rooms and scraping by. She moved to Washington D.C to go to University and her arrival coincided with an American Folk renaissance which led to her joining her first band- The Big 3. The Big 3 only lasted for a couple of years (62-64) and Cass’s next venture- The Mugwumps- lasted a matter of months.

In 1965, Cass finally joined the group that would make her a worldwide star- The Mamas and the Papas. The group enjoyed worldwide success with hits such as California Dreamin’; Monday, Monday and Dedicated to the One I Love and carved out a niche in popular folk music that had mainstream appeal. Their harmonies were sophisticated, and Cass was certainly the most well-known figurehead of the group with many lead vocal roles.

The Mamas and The Papas released their final album in 1971 and Cass went on to enjoy acclaim as a solo artist as well as well-loved media personality. She was a regular on variety shows and talk shows and was booked for a 3-week residency at Las Vegas Caesars Palace. She was well regarded as having a vivacious disposition and a great sense of humour.

However, behind her sunny persona and musical success Cass experienced several turbulent events following her joining the Mamas and Papas. It is generally understood that she was in love with her band mate Denny Doherty and had even proposed marriage to him. Alas, Doherty was ensconced in an affair with Michelle Phillips (another member of the band) and a complicated love triangle ensued.  She also had her struggles with substance misuse, a situation not helped by her intense recording and performing schedules.

Despite the rollercoaster ride that was Cass’s life; her talent was always on strong ground. Vocal academics highlighted her immense vocal range and enviable control and her rendition of the 1931 song Dream a Little Dream of Me is one of the most popular versions of the classic song which has also been recorded by  Louis Armstrong; Nat King Cole; Doris Day and Michael Bublé to name a few.

Mama Cass experienced a lot of comment and speculation regarding her weight. Since her death, her daughter has spoken in interviews about the impact of fat-shaming in the press had on her mother and how this spurred her on to not only achieve her own dreams but encourage other women as well. Her Mamas and Papas bandmate Michelle Phillips remembers that Cass was always encouraging her to push herself vocally and not to let men in the music industry push her around.

She decided at 25 that she wanted to raise a child and as she was unmarried at the time, it was a bold choice to make even in the swinging 60s. She kept her pregnancy secret and by all accounts was a dedicated and loving mother to her daughter, even dedicating her song Lady Love to her:

“I have my little someone to hold onto …  a little girl to set me free. … She came along just in time / in time to ease my worried mind / and now I’ve got a little someone to hold on to.”

Tragically, Mama Cass passed away from heart failure in a London hotel room, age just 32. It was a life and musical career cut heartbreakingly short.

Her legacy lives on- not just in terms of her solo career and the example this set to subsequent female vocalists; but also the body of work the Mamas and The Papas leave behind. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, as “the Mamas”, were ranked No. 21 on the VH1 network’s list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock- but Mama Cass will always be in my top 10. Dream a little dream…… of Mama CassHer legacy lives on- not just in terms of her solo career and the example this set to subsequent female vocalists; but also the body of work the Mamas and The Papas leave behind. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, as “the Mamas”, were ranked No. 21 on the VH1 network’s list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock- but Mama Cass will always be in my top 10.

God save the Queen: Queen Latifah and the making of a hip-hop Renaissance woman

by Molly Tie

If democracy falls and the whole world is run by a pan-national monarchy made up of musicians with regal titles, who will rule us?  I guess the contenders are King Crimson; Prince; Duke Ellington and Queens of the Stone Age. But I hope that our supreme leader will be the indomitable Queen Latifah because her career has shown she is an irrepressible badass.

Latifah has turned her hand to all sorts of things – rap music, acting, song-writing and producing – and she has been pretty successful at all these things. Understanding Latifah’s rise to fame through a notoriously macho rap music scene makes her success even more impressive and her early credibility means we can sort of forgive her for being in a film called Taxi with Jimmy Fallon. Sort of.

Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens in New Jersey in 1970. She had a fairly standard middle-class upbringing- attending Catholic school and playing in her high school basketball team due to her height.

From the age of 18, she started beat boxing for a hip-hop outfit called Ladies Fresh. She was signed to Tommy Boy Music in 1989 and released her first single Wrath of My Madness. The song showcases themes that would be present in many of her later recordings- traditional hip-hop flexing and showboating mixed with her strong female proclamations. This would recur throughout her musical career- waving the flag for female musicians and demonstrating that women can rap with the best of them.

Her first album All Hail the Queen was released the same year as her first single and the songs were very much a chronicle of the black woman’s experience from relationships; harassment in the streets and working-class struggles. Songs like Ladies First became feminist anthems with lyrics like this:

Who said the ladies couldn’t make it, you must be blind
If you don’t believe, well here, listen to this rhyme
Ladies first, there’s no time to rehearse
I’m divine and my mind expands throughout the universe
A female rapper with the message to send the
Queen Latifah is a perfect specimen.

Latifah collaborated with a who’s who of late 80s hip hop- KRS-One, De La Soul and Monie Love and her debut album was considered a commercial success.

Latifah continued to release rap and hip-hop tracks throughout the 90s but by the early 2000s, she turned her attention towards more traditional singing. As she was a big jazz fan, she began to perform more soul and jazz music and released an album of such tracks in 2004 with The Dana Owens Album. Her 2007 album Trav’lin’ Light was nominated for a 2007 Grammy. It is a testament to her standing in the music industry that moving between different genres never lost her any of her core fans or professional credibility.

Queen Latifah is probably best known now for her acting roles. She has appeared in numerous comedy films and TV programmes, most notably Hairspray (2007); 22 Jump Street (2014) and Girls Trip (2017). She can also be seen popping up in TV shows such as 30 Rock and her own Queen Latifah Show which ran for 2 seasons.

A list of Latifah’s award nominations from the early 1990s onwards could fill a small novel and she has been recognised for her talent and integrity in most areas of the arts.

She has had her fair share of controversy although never to the same extent as some of her hip hop contemporaries such as Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. In 1996 Latifah was arrested for possession of marijuana and a handgun and then in 2002 was arrested for driving under the influence. Other than that, she has managed to keep her personal life relatively low profile and as such is known for her creative output rather than any personal turmoil.

Whether or not you’re a royalist, I think this is one Queen we can all get behind.