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Women Who Rock!

Celebrating 12 living female music pioneers

  • Henry Diltz/Getty Images

    Tina Turner

    The 11-time Grammy winner and unquestionable Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll epitomized the “great comeback” when she re-emerged as a top-charting solo artist with mid-’80s hits such as “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and “Two People” after suffering bankruptcy and abuse from her former music partner and husband, Ike Turner.

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  • Paul Morigi/WireImage/Getty Images

    Carole King

    She became the first female singer-songwriter to nab four Grammy wins — record, song and album of the year, and best female pop vocal performance — for her 1971 LP, Tapestry. In 2013, the influential artist, who penned a string of timeless hits such as “A Natural Woman” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” also became the first woman to win the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

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  • Richard Perry/The New York Times/Redux

    Aretha Franklin

    Two decades after recording such soul anthems as “Rock Steady,” “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” in the late 1960s, the undisputed Queen of Soul became the first woman inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, its second year of existence. 

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  • Graeme Robertson/Redux

    Debbie Harry

    Even though the Sugar Hill Gang ushered rap music into the mainstream with its 1979 single “Rapper’s Delight,” Blondie front woman Debbie Harry’s rap performance on its 1981 single “Rapture” became the first song featuring rap to reach No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

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  • Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    Stevie Nicks

    As the front woman for Fleetwood Mac, Nicks — with her singular, quivering voice and songwriting skills — helped catapult “Dreams,” the band’s only No. 1 single, to the top. As a solo artist, she was no less spellbinding, as she recorded such cherished hits as “Stand Back,” “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Talk to Me.” 

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  • Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    Janet Jackson

    Through a worldwide partnership with BMG, the singing superstar established the Rhythm Nation record label and then released her 2015 comeback album, Unbreakable. She became the first African American female pop star to form her own label with a global distribution.

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  • Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

    Barbra Streisand

    One of the best-selling singing artists of all time, she’s the only musician to have No. 1 albums in each of the last six decades. And she holds the record for the woman with the most No. 1 albums (11).

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  • Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images

    Pat Benatar

    The four-time Grammy winner who skyrocketed to fame with rock anthems such as “Love Is a Battlefield,” “We Belong” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” recently recorded “Shine,” in support of the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

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  • Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

    Cher

    Whether she’s singing hits such as “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe” or starring in critically acclaimed movies such as Silkwood, The Witches of Eastwick and Moonstruck, the iconic song stylist, actress, and Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner simply captivates.

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  • Reuters/Alamy

    Sheila E.

    She’d already helped to challenge gender stereotypes by playing percussion for such heavyweights as Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock and George Duke before she began working with Prince in the mid-’80s. The drummer, percussionist and singer extraordinaire later became the first woman to front a house band on a late-night TV talk show in 1998 with Magic Johnson’s short-lived The Magic Hour. 

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  • Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    Joni Mitchell

    Stars ranging from Prince to Esperanza Spalding cite this inspirational Canadian-born singer, songwriter and guitarist, whose distinctive brand of folk music drew from jazz, R&B, country and rock. With nine Grammy wins, it’s no wonder Rolling Stone magazine hails her as “one of the greatest songwriters ever.” 

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  • Jim Rassol/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP

    Patti Smith

    Hailed as punk music’s poet laureate, this artistic force of nature not only commands the stage when she’s belting out such songs as “Because the Night” and “Ask the Angels,” she is also a riveting visual artist and indefatigable social activist.

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