We are much in tune with the feminine perspective here at TWJ. Before you ask: “Why Women?”, we answer: “Why not?” There are messages and moments that speak best when sung with a woman’s voice and sensitivities. Most certainly we are bold, we are strong, we are Smog. But we have a bare soft spot for ladies who sing their mind. In our world, it’s ok for men to read Venuszine, go quiet and gain insight from stories of love and loss. This year promises to hold some great moments, given to us by some really great emerging talent, from all over the world. It isn’t necessarily a prediction. And they aren’t ranked. This is more of a clarion call to see, highlight and appreciate. Here are 24 great Women to Watch in 2011.
1. Marsha Ambrosius
When Floetry split in 2007, Marsha Ambrosius took the opportunity and reinvented herself. Physically and musically Now, with a brand new solo album coming out in February, and a pair of singles that knock it out of the park, a woman who has deserved the limelight for so long will likely get it with Late Nights & Early Mornings (J-Records). Check out her second single “Far Away” below.
2. Alina Orlova
Alina Orlova, also known as Alina Orlovskaya, can sing in three languages (Lithuanian, Russian and English) and in every one she manages to be enticing. Mixing traditional piano ballads with ethnic tracings, she’s a rare import with a fresh sound. You can stream her entire album Laukinis Suo Dingo (Fargo Records) here.
3. Lisa Mitchell
Lisa Mitchell was once a girl with guitar. But then she rocketed to fame on Australian Idol in 2006, and in the years since, she’s become a Folk wonder for her native country. She won the ARIA award (Grammy-ish) for her newest album Wonder (Sony UK), which is wispy and charming in every way.
4. La Sera
With a lovely, lovely single behind her, and the future wide open, Vivian Girls bassist Katy Goodman aka Kickball Katy aka La Sera, is going from the fuzzy Lo-Fi churn to the dreamy Chillwave route with her solo project. Her debut LP La Sera (Hardly Art Records) is due out February 15th, and could likely be this year’s Best Coast.
5. Clare Maguire
There really are no classifications for Clare Maguire. Rather the music world is commenting on her voice, which can’t be described as anything but “fucking epic.” She’s an austere Annie Lennox for our generation. The Birmingham native has been repeatedly dubbed as one of the most promising acts of 2011. Her debut Light After Dark (Universal/Polydor) will tell us all we need to know, when it comes out February 28th.
6. Jessie J
She’s been the writer behind hits by Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and Alicia Keys. And just recently she was named BBC’s Most Promising Artist for 2011. A Nicki Minaj and Adele love child would produce Jessie J, a woman who can kite ballads and spit rhymes seconds apart. She has a testy hit called “Do it Like a Dude”, which you can see here, but one of my personal favorites is “Price Tag”, which you can find below. Her debut album Who You Are (Island Records) will be released June 6th.
7. Kyla La Grange
Kyla La Grange was an accidental discovery for me, her name and her song titles grabbing my eye. My curiosity was rewarded with a grand whiplash of talent and proud style. Her lyrics are striking honesty and powerful. So far, she has a couple singles on the assembly line, the first of which, “Walking Through Walls” is available for download here. It knocks any complacency in your body right out of you. She’s a standout from the normal emotional gushery, and well worth a visit to the top of her mountain.
For an unsigned artist based in Chicago, Violetness sure has a well-defined style. Venessa Upson, who spent a good deal of time in her ancestral Peru, describes her music this way; “It’s kind of primal right now, which I like, but there’s a whole other side of me that kind of wants to make the sound get a little bigger and maybe a little dancier.” One of the first songs she recorded, “Nazca,” refers to the desert in Peru that has ancient symbols of animals best seen from aerial views. There’s a tribal sound to her music, and she seems to be ready to set loose on the world.
9. Jessica Lea Mayfield
Time to for Kent, Ohio to toot its horn, because Jessica Lea Mayfield is a wonderful export. Her slow tempo has air and sunshine between the words and strums. Her style can be mistakenly called world-weary, but it would be a disservice to call it anything but honest and gorgeous. She’s touring with Justin Townes Earle for her her new record Tell Me, out February 8th (Nonesuch Records). IT was produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach, and already sounds great, as foretold by her single “Our Hearts Are Wrong”, available for a free download at her site (link above).
10. Joan As Policewoman
It’s a shame we need to mention her relationship with the late Jeff Buckley when we describe Joan Wasser aka Joan As Policewoman. But his death is what fueled her own music creation and reinvention. She went from a behind the scenes violin player, to front woman of her own spotlight on the world. Her fourth LP, The Deep Field out January 24th, (Reveal Records) sounds to be her most dramatic reinvention yet. Her music was almost too quiet at first, with notable exceptions (“Eternal Flame”), but her latest effort has been infused with funk, flare and feeeeelin’. Download a free sampler that includes her new single for “The Magic” with the link above.
11. Juliette Commagere
This is an example of excitement that crosses years. Los Angeles based Juliette Commagere released The Procession (Manimal Vinyl Records/Carrot T) back in October of 2010, but it’s just so gosh darn fantastic/wonderful/unexpected, we can’t help but feeling like it deserves continued attention throughout 2011. The single “Eats From the Inside” provides soaring footage of a Viking in emotional turmoil about the rights and wrongs of pillaging, and her video for “Impact” is enough for us to don rainbows, take Ecstasy and study with yogic masters. Stay vigilant for more magic from Ms. Commagere throughout the year, and stream the entirety of The Procession for free at her website (link above).
12. de Montevert
Sweden’s Ellinor Nilsson seems to flourish under her pseudonym de Montevert. She makes songs in both Swedish and English, the boldest of which seem to be in her native tongue, saving the most tender for we Colonists. Her style ranges from Folksy to Pop to Electronic; from “Gal Pal” to “High on You” to “Within”. The best place to hear her music is her Myspace page. Nilsson’s music seems to be a hobby at the moment; though she’s recorded a series of EPs, she is unsigned and still hasn’t released a full album yet. Here’s to hoping she crashes the scene this year. Hear a great cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” done in Swedish tenderness below.
13. Trixie Whitley
Trixie Whitley has followed her father’s (Christopher Whitley) footsteps in spades. The Brooklyn based Belgian Blues/Soul singer is an incredibly gifted vocalist. Her voice swells and sands your ears down to infancy, where you can only lay on the floor and marvel. Her music is downright sexy. She’s a big part of the Daniel Lanois-headed Black Dub, which had one hell of an album in 2010. Rumors have it that Whitley is set to release more of her solo material in the form of a debut album, later this year, touring soon thereafter. We’re hoping and wishing it’s so.
14. Anna Calvi
There’s no arguing with this one, Anna Calvi is set to be one of the biggest bombshells to hit 2011. And it’s hard to object with Brian Eno and Nick Cave shouting accolades from her corner. Out of basements and attics, she’s coming to claim her place with piercing eyes and Bush/Bowie/Cohen styles. There simply hasn’t been anything like her in a good long while, and the music scene needs her. I truly think she will be singing a theme song for James Bond in her lifetime, and it will be the best one ever. Her Jezebel 7” (Domino Records) blew us away and her brand new LP Anna Calvi (Domino Records), out January 17th, will likely render us to pieces.
Thanks for reading! Check out Part 2 here!