Music History

Published on February 11th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 811: The 90s, Part 2(a): A Decade of Influential Female Solo Performers

In a less-enlightened time, women were barely tolerated by the rock’n’roll establishment. They could sing, maybe shake a tambourine and look pretty, but that was about it.

In retrospect, the sexism and misogyny were unbelievable. But back in the day, that was standard operating procedure.

There were exceptions, of course: Aretha, Carole, Janis. But even they suffered at the hands of the old boys’ club.

Sexism continued through the early- and mid-seventies. The prevailing “wisdom” was that women just couldn’t rock. It was a biological impossibility, apparently.

But then along came punk rock and its sense of egalitarianism. The central tenet of punk was that anyone with anything to say should be allowed to say it, regardless of musical ability, class, race, religion–or sex.

The punk rock explosion of the 1970s opened more musical doors for women than any other era in musical history. This didn’t mean that the sexism and misogyny were over, but it did pave the way for more strong, powerful female musicians.

Slow, steady progress was made through the 80s. ANd yes, there were setbacks. But by the time we got into the next decade, the music world was being flooded with women, who in many ways, set the agenda for all rock music.

This is part two of our series on the alt-rock 90s.

Songs heard on this show:

Sinead O’Connor, Troy

Ani Difranco, Both Hands

Tori Amos, Crucify

PJ Harvey, Sheela-Na-Gig

Bjork, Big Time Sensuality

Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery (Live)

Liz Phair, Supernova

Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know

Eric Wilhite took the trouble to make this playlist for the show.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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3 Responses to The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 811: The 90s, Part 2(a): A Decade of Influential Female Solo Performers

  1. Alan says:

    This one never showed up in my iTunes feed. I was wondering if you had taken a week off.

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