\\ Ten (female) artists you need to know
We don’t really do ‘rules’, but there is one thing that we don’t budge on; unless it’s contextually necessary, artists with vaginas should never be described as sounding ‘female’. What does ‘female’ sound like? The human language hasn’t been developing for thousands of years so that we can describe a band as an “All female group” or describe a vocalist as a “female front woman”.
We always celebrate female artists, and you will never hear us describing a musician or band by such a description. To mark International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting some of the most dynamic, talented and genre-stretching artists that you need to know.
Chicago rapper Noname was heralded as one to watch for 2017 at this year’s Worldwide Awards, with previous nods including Anderson .Paak and Little Simz. The soothing drawl of her 2016 debut album Telefone gives her away as a city neighbour to Chance The Rapper.
\\ Native Dancer
Imagine Florence and the Machine got loungy and fell for snappy beats and synths. The London band, fronted by warm and husky voiced Frida, are a dope live act, with soaring vocals that encourage goosebumps. Catch them at SXSW this year.
\\ Poppy Ajudha
Artist and model Poppy Ajudha releases her much awaited debut EP this year. Her tune David’s Song racked up an excitable following on Soundcloud. Expect to hear a lot from Poppy in 2017.
As a live band, Collocutor are moorish. Dynamically varied, their writing is alluring and unpredictable. The instrumental group, lead by saxophonist Tamar Osborn, recently reworked the Yussef Lateef songbook as part of London’s Church of Sound gig series. Check out this session we filmed with them where they performed their own track, Everywhere.
\\ Little Simz
Little Simz has had it rough in the UK. Although embraced by fans, she’s had less positive experiences with music industry folk. However, following the release of her second album, a stateside tour with Lauryn Hill and a festival she curated herself at Roundhouse, Little Simz has proved herself to be a music powerhouse. The 23 year old is an inspiration for female artists. In fact, she’s an inspiration for anyone with a will to succeed that doesn’t want to put up with shit from the powers that be.
These seven musicians – as a band as as individuals – carry the torch for the breadth of London’s jazz scene. Their self-titled EP is a light but distinctive sound. The members are busy on their own solo journeys, too. Saxophonist Nubya Garcia releases her own much awaited debut this year, fellow sax-player Cassie Kinoshi leads the slightly more traditional-leaning SEED Ensemble, and trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey (who features throughout Little Simz’ Stillness In Wonderland) heads up afro-beat vibes with KOKOROKO. Listen out for Shirley Tetteh, too; the guitarist is making guest appearances on several UK releases this year.
\\ Kadhja Bonet
Although a relatively new artist, Kadjha Bonet’s blissfully warm tone draws worthy comparisons to Karen Carpenter. Honeycomb in particular evokes nostalgia for a dreamy moment that you’re not sure you ever lived out. Listen to the Californian artist and producer on a Sunday afternoon – on vinyl if you’re so inclined – amongst a listening session of Mammas and the Papas, Fleetwood Mac and The Carpenters.
\\ Mette Henriette
Cited as one of Shabaka Hutchings‘ favourite musicians, German saxophonist Mette Henriette is refreshingly vocal about her artistry. Accessible and modern, without sacrifice for character; Mette’s music is difficult not to like.
\\ Vula Viel
Bex Burch spent years in Ghana where she learnt to play the gyil, a wooden xylophone-like instrument. It’s played in Ghanaian funerals to see off the spirits in a celebration of life; the gyil is one of the most joyous instruments you’ll ever hear, and Bex plays it with the animation of a fearless child. Vula Viel‘s live shows are a party.
\\ Jaimie Branch
Brooklyn based, Jaimie Branch is a trumpeter who is associated by label with Bottle Tree, Makaya McCraven and Jeff Parker via International Anthem. Foreboding, glitchy and fearless; Jaimie, who releases her debut album this year, nods to grittier, harder, boppier jazz.
Tweet @jazz_standard and tell us about your favourite female artists.
JS | Tina Edwards