How many of you know that Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill are not only brilliant vocalists and songwriters but are also capable of producing their own music?
This article is dedicated to r&b and neo-soul female artists who besides being great performers, which is the most popular image women in music are associated with, are also talented songwriters, skilled producers and instrumentalists.
The topic is quite relevant in our team’s eyes and is connected to the issue with representation and visibility of female producers, which we’ve been passionately involved with in the past couple of months. After numerous features of awesome songs produced by women, several interviews with female beatmakers and the articles Women in Music: 9 Female Producers on the Challenges They Face and How We Can All Support Women Beatmakers in Today’s Industry and How These 5 Factors Contribute to the Gender Pay Gap in the Music Industry, we decided to continue this Women in Music initiative with a series of articles, dedicated to female artists who certainly deserve more attention and recognition.
Now if anybody tells you that women can’t produce, you can send them this article or our amazing playlist with female-produced beats - Beat Queens.
Starting from more successful, renowned names and ending with new names on the scene, I have no doubt you will fall in love with the following list of multi-talented female artists. So let’s dig in!
1. Georgia Anne Muldrow
Part of Los Angeles’ hip-hop / jazz / soul avant-garde since 2005, Georgia Anne Muldrow has built an impressive discography and reputation during her career as a vocalist, songwriter, producer and musician. With various instrumental and vocal projects, stunning collabs and several monikers behind her back, Georgia doesn’t cease to explore the vast music horizon of her own vision and connection to sound. Her rich musical heritage and the sheer weight of her catalogue have earned her the respect of peers such as Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Bilal and Robert Glasper.
The French-Caribbean singer, bassist and producer Adeline is a real powerhouse that quickly steals hearts away with her uplifting music and strong presence. Starting with singing, she later acquired more skills throughout her music journey, only to develop her own sound and vision, which you can witness today. In our recent interview with her, she shared that starting to play the bass not only influenced her career but changed it completely: “I found myself and my direction”- she says. Later came producing and contributed furthermore to her self-discovery and starting to walk in the “shoes” that fit her best - the ones "designed" by her.
Having collaborated and played with Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freeda and Natalie Prass, she is constantly finding new ways to amaze us and her last EP is proof of that. She produced it together with Morgan Wiley, under Nightshade - their production/songwriting duo. She also directed the video of “Stages” - one of the tracks from the EP.
From the first track of hers I heard - "Uh Huh Okay", I was immediately blown away by Emmavie’s vocal skills and songwriting abilities. After discovering that she also produces her music and exploring further her sound and lyricism, it was simply impossible not to appreciate and respect her skillset and talent. London-based beatmaker-DJ-singer-songwriter-producer has been incredibly productive in the last couple of years. Besides sharing the stage with Mahalia, Eric Bellinger, Smino, Iman Omari, Syd, Masego and Moonchild, she became part of Her Songs - a collective created by artists Marie Dahlstrom, Emily Browning, The Naked Eye & Dani Murcia. The project brought all these female artists from around the world to LA and Toronto to record several EPs together. Neediness to say the result is soul-melting. You can explore their beautiful soulful music here.
Berlin-Tel Aviv-based J.Lamotta is another great example of the brilliant way in which a female artist can express herself not only via singing and songwriting but also through producing. From jazz and hip-hop to soul and r&b, her music effortlessly slips under your skin and enchants you with a strong spell.
5. Lauren Faith
A producer, singer and songwriter, who prefers working alone and from home, Lauren Faith creates uplifting tunes, which carry the dreamy positive vibes of a pure soul with bold imagination. You might actually know her work on Kaytranada’s ‘99.9%’, or with artists as varied as Craig David, Kamaal Williams, p-rallel and Alanis Morissette. Her track “Feels” combines her many eclectic influences and refines them into the essence of what she is about.
Regarding the lack of representation and visibility of women in music, she shares: “Things are changing slowly, but it’s about acknowledging the women who are already out there and giving them the platform to inspire. Everyone has their own power - I cry every day being proud of people, even people I don't know yet! It makes you work harder because when you're working with someone that's fire, you're like well, ‘I need to up my game too’. You’ve got to become your own powerhouse.”
KeiyaA is a Chicago-born vocalist, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Her gorgeous vocals shine on the beats produced by HERSELF, while her lyrics trigger even more layers of emotional response within the listener. Citing influences from Chaka Khan, Patrice Rushen, SWV, John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Nirvana and Siouxsie and the Banshees, she studied jazz and played alto saxophone, till deciding to focus on her career. Keiyaa's self-produced debut album Forever, Ya Girl was released in March 2020 and was part of Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian's "Best Albums of 2020" lists.
7. Maylee Todd
Maylee Todd is her own league and her own Universe basically. Not just a singer, songwriter and producer, she is also an incredible visual artist, who bravely explores both sound and design, to share with us her own cosmos. The Toronto-based multi-faceted artist is also involved in film and performance art. Her music combines organic and electronic influences, including elements of boogie, bossa nova, space funk, psychedelia and soul. It’s hard not to admire her free-spirited approach and get inspired by her artistic journey.
The alternative r&b duo THEESatisfaction, consisting of two talented female producers/singers/songwriters: Stas THEE Boss and SassyBlack combined maverick jazz, soul, and rap in a way that merges tradition and experiment. In 2016 they sadly split ways, to move on to developing solo carriers and exploring individually their own sound. However, the EPs and albums they created together, as well as their solo projects, are remarkable examples of sound exploration.
9. Talia Goddess
A 19-year-old singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist and model. Quite impressive, isn’t it? Even before discovering all of the above, I was mesmerized by her track “Poster Girl” in which various vocal styles contribute to a cohesive whole, resulting in a great tune, to put it simply. The NYC-based Talia Goddess (Tayahna Walcott) is nothing short of skills and boldly seeks to bring various forms of art and expression under one umbrella.
10. Kristen Merritt
A Detroit native, Kristen Merritt is the last artist from this very special list. Her sound is rooted in neo-soul, but occasionally draws inspiration from funk and pop. Relatively new to the scene ( in terms of solo career) she is someone to look out for. The proof for that is above - her track “Breathe”, taken from her debut album Joi, which she wrote, produced, mixed and mastered by herself. The track radiates joy, warmth and authenticity, which are skillfully reflected in the video, which Kristen directed and edited herself.
I hope you enjoyed this feast for the ears and the souls and I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel the urge to dive into the sound of all these artists and explore more.
I’ll add one more reason for you to do so: while compiling this list and selecting the great tunes you just had the pleasure of hearing, I noticed that female producers often tend to bravely explore more experimental sound. Seeking ways of free expression, they explore various shapes of sound and music contexts, which is more than interesting to witness - via your headphones or speakers. Feel free to check out more of Georgia Anne Muldrow, Stas THEE Boss & SassyBlack (THEESatisfaction) to start with.
And if you fancy some more r&b/neo soul vibes, check out our smooth gender-less playlist Lush Vibes (available on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Deezer):