Classic albums are classic albums, regardless of the gender of the musician. But since it’s our goal to put the spotlight on the sometimes underappreciated woman musician, we’ve put together a list of the albums made by women that came out a long time ago but still see rotation in our playlists today – if we were around for it originally or not.
Joni Mitchell “Blue”
Born Roberta Joan Anderson in Alberta, Canada, Joni Mitchell is forever known as one of the greatest musicians and songwriters of the 20th century. In no other way was this made so apparent as on her timeless 1971 album “Blue” – which many journalists and fans consider the greatest album of all time, of any genre.
Before “Blue” was released, folk singer Joni Mitchell was already 3 albums deep and had solidified her spot as one of the greatest artists of her generation. But this album took her legacy a step further. Joni, now matured and fueled by intense relationships with James Taylor and Graham Nash, was completely raw and real. In combination with her singing and songwriting talents, she had the recipe for the perfect honest and timeless album.
Nina Simone “Nina Simone Sings The Blues”
American singer, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone was known for her fusion of multiple genres, blurring the lines between r&b, blues, folk, jazz, classical, gospel, and pop. No other album showcases her span across music styles than her 1967 release, “Nina Sings The Blues” does.
Trained as a classical pianist at Julliard and with humble beginnings in small nightclubs and lounges, Nina eventually caught on, forming a small cult following in the places that she played. During this time in the 50s, Simone began recording music as well.
But what makes her album a decade after so pivotal were her growing activist views mixed with the American political landscape – Jim Crow, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr – Simone provided the soundtrack for the movement, even performing at the historic Selma march.
This pressure cooker of events building up that were shifting American culture made for some amazing music and “Nina Simone Sings The Blues” is a prime example of this.
Madonna “Like A Prayer”
The 4th studio album by the Queen of Pop, Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” LP broke ground for pop music at the time, setting herself in stone as a serious artist and songwriter. The album received critical acclaim by all and Rolling Stone said it as “close to art as pop music gets”.
“Like A Prayer” was released in 1989 and came off the back of her previous album, “Who’s That Girl” which hadn’t been met with the commercial success that she hoped for.
Janet Jackson “Control”
Pop Icon and youngest of the ten Jackson kids, Janet blazed her own trail to become one of the best selling artists of all time. Early in her career as a teenager, Janet found herself under the management of her father and recording music that she didn’t want to. That is, until 1985 when Janet was old enough to fly the coup and take her career into her own hands.
The next year Janet released her third solo project, the acclaimed “Control” album. This album contained more singles and chart-toppers than you could shake a stick at – “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, “Nasty”, “Control”, “When I Think of You”, and “Let’s Wait Awhile” all broke the top 5 on the Billboard charts.
You could say that 1986 was all about Janet and “Control” has left its mark as being one of the best albums of the 1980s of any genre.
Whitney Houston “Whitney Houston”
Although she is no longer with us, Whitney Houston remains a force to be reckoned with, still holding the Guinness record for the most awarded female of all time. To this day Houston is one of the top-selling artists of all time with over 200 million records sold.
“Whitney Houston” was her self-titled debut album released in 1985 and it topped the Billboard charts for 14 consecutive weeks in 1986 and won Album Of The Year at the Grammy’s.