Anna May Wong photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise, 1928. This striking image had the Aphrodite-esque vibes I wanted to fit the theme of awe-inspiring, peaceful yet powerful female presence. Anna May Wong is a fitting cover subject for this mix because she was a largely unsung icon in her day who deserved much better opportunities and accolades than she was given.
Wow, it wasn't my intention to take so long for another post or to have it be another mix! But this is very close to me because I have always been most passionate about female vocalists - an opinion sadly not shared by an alarmingly large group of people even today. It's a subject that will be a running theme in this blog and I will probably discuss further soon. It hopefully goes without saying, but this is hardly a definitive list of singers - leaving out the huge icons like Whitney, Mariah, Billie Holiday, etc. and favorites like Sade, Annie Lennox, Elizabeth Fraser, just to name a few - mostly for the sake of focusing on those who are lesser-known or who need more constructive criticism and/or a closer look.
This mix took considerable time putting together not only for my obvious interest but because there has been an ongoing trend of "girls rule/misandrist/lipstick as weapon"-type song collections full of predictable choices like Charli XCX and Marina, and while those are not without value by default, it's become a bit stale and can, in my experience at least, sometimes desensitive people's receptiveness to the theme of and important issues behind the way female musicians and singers are received... even if they seem to generally get praise, acclaim, and circulation, that hardly touches upon the seedy underbelly of how everyone truly feels, the way people are quick to dismiss certain important aspects of a lot of women's work, or reading between the lines in a lot of music criticism for the real reasons why a lot of people aren't taken as seriously as others.
With the last mix, I was more dedicated to serving the theme, this time - although the theme is operatic/revelatory female vocals with a generally upbeat/happier tinge - it veers around a lot of my all-time favorite songs. After a few weeks of brainstorming various people and songs for this I had to stop myself from including any more and save it for maybe another volume! I agonized over being inclusive not only of a lot of my own favorites, but of the plethora of other unsung talents out there, and am always open to suggestions. I hope that instead of this seeming like a list of ALL-TIME BEST SINGERS like many articles are fashioned, that this is more of a springboard that celebrates the entire concept and only encourages more exploration of the topic and all the people it should contain. There are so many largely unexplored artists or ones whose names are out there but behind their iconography, a few obvious hits, and general tumblr-fodder "Fierce Lady!!" status, leave some of their musical accomplishments largely unprobed.
KEY THEMES: vocals, water, nature, power, beauty, operatics, awe, mystique, happiness, motivation, aphrodite, study music
XTABAY | YMA SUMACLISTEN | YOUTUBE
COMPLETENESS | MINNIE RIPERTON
AMADO MIO | GRACE JONES
GENERIC ACTRESS #3 | LUCIA HWONG
MONEY | ASHA PUTHLI
RIVER OF RAGE + VIRUS | JUN TOGAWA (WITH YAPOOS)
I, CAPRICORN | SHIRLEY BASSEY
BOOMERANG | SAINKHO NAMTCHYLAK
OCEANIA | BJORK
WHAT COULD BE MORE RIGHT + MAMANI | LETTA MBULU
HEIDENROESELEIN | MIHARU KOSHI
MY TIME | ANN STEEL
ROUGE/YIN JI KAU (THEME) | ANITA MUI
DOWN DEEP INSIDE | DONNA SUMMER
SWEET LOVE | ANITA BAKER
TROY | SINEAD O'CONNOR
UTOPIA | GOLDFRAPP
FUNAMACHI-UTA PART 1 | AKIKO YANO
NATURTRANE | NINA HAGEN
LA SANDUNGA | LILA DOWNS
SEE THE SUN | LISA GERRARD
SOVA | ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF
NIGHT-SCENTED STOCK | KATE BUSH
OVERPOWERED | ROISIN MURPHY
STIMELA | WYNTER GORDON
ABOUT THIS MIX: This mix was inspired largely by Minnie Riperton (the entire Come To My Garden album would've worked - I eventually chose "Completeness" only because it seemed to contain most of the elements that recur throughout this incredible album), Akiko Yano, Kate Bush, and Sainkho Namtychylak - my top four favorite female singers thus far, all of who I plan on posting about soon. I also have so much to say about Jun Togawa, Shirley Bassey, Grace Jones, Bjork's Medulla, and a lot of other stuff in this mix, hopefully in the near future!