The final part of our look into sexism in music focuses on the new wave of female songwriters looking to break the industry’s male monopoly. A recent report from PRS revealed that of the near 100,000 songwriters registered to their books, only 13 per cent were female. Despite the phenomenal successes of songwriters like Adele and Taylor Swift, it appears a vast majority of female artists still rely heavily on male contributors. So we wanted to shine a light on the artists turning the tables.
If you hadn’t heard of 23 year old Julia Michaels before her single Issues stormed the charts earlier this year, you weren’t the only one. But the songwriter has been steadily amassing one of the most impressive CVs in the business for years now.
The brain behind Justin Bieber’s Sorry and Selena Gomez’s Hands to Myself, Michaels has been a stalwart of the scene since she was just 17, working with everyone from Britney Spears to Gwen Stefani.
She told Rolling Stone, ‘I think that women are afraid are afraid to be vulnerable because they think it makes them look weak. It’s ingrained in people’s minds that it’s a typecast and a stereotype that women are just emotional and crazy. If you listen to the radio it’s all men who are emotional and women who are sexual.’
With a host of EPs already out and an album on the way, Michaels looks like she’s here to stay.
Starrah, aka Brittany Hazard, has quickly become one of the most sought after songwriters in the game. The 27 year old American fostered her natural talent online by selling hooks on Instagram. It was here that she was picked up by manager Nick Jarjour who, bowled over by her ability and rock solid work ethic, paired her with fellow songwriter JGramm.
But after penning hits for Rihanna, Drake and Nikki Minaj, Starrah chose to break out as a solo artist. Her stunning first EP with Diplo earned rave reviews and showcased her abilities as one of the finest songwriters in pop. She’s clearly relishing her new role too, telling Billboard, ‘with me as an artist, I can do whatever I want to do, which gives me the freedom to create however I want.”
We’re blessed with reams of talented songwriters in the UK, but none quite like Ray Blk. The Nigerian born singer songwriter took the RnB scene by storm in 2015 with her Havisham EP before cementing her status as one to watch with the 2016 follow up Durt. With her unique electro soul stylings, it’s no wonder she scooped the coveted BBC Sound of 2017 prize.
Having grown up on a diet of American hip-hop and British grime, Blk turned her hand to rap when she was just a teenager. In an interview with the Guardian earlier this year she said, ‘it was a playground thing – all the boys huddled together and went bar for bar, and I just wanted to get involved … that’s how I started, just writing raps. I was the only girl in the circle, trying to get listened to.’
‘And then, when I was about 13, I joined a crew of all-male rappers and I wanted to rap as well, and they wanted me to sing, because I could. So I became the singer.’
Her debut album has been a long time in the offing but Blk told NME that she’s committed to creating ‘timeless, classic songs of female empowerment.’ We can’t wait to see what’s in store for one of the most exciting talents around.
Who are the songwriters shaping your playlists? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @ArtKompetes.