Yes, She Can! How the 2021 Grammys are inspiring local female musicians (Editorial)

A sweeping female victory at the 2021 Grammys sparks discussion for the next generation of women in music.

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Photo by Katrien Grevendonck

ROCK ON: This year’s Grammy awards were all about the ladies. How will this impact our local musicians?

The Grammys 2021 was an event unlike any other. But aside from Billie Eilish’s hair (which has been confirmed: wig), Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s much-discussed choreography, and BTS’s surprising loss, there is another aspect of the evening that has been getting media attention.  

The surprisingly long list of female winners and nominees at this year’s awards marked a turning point in music history, one that will define the artists of the next generation.

Throughout much of the Grammys’ history, most title winners were men, leaving the top ranks relatively closed off to women. According to Statista.com, women made up about 42% of the New Artists nominees between the years of 2013 and 2020. This is the most lucrative subgroup for women, however, with females only claiming 7.6% of Album of the Year nominees and 2.3% of Producer of the Year nominations. Note as well that these are just nominations, not wins. 

This is a stark contrast from the 2021 awards show, which took place this March (coincidentally National Women’s History month.) Of course, there were individual achievements, such as Beyoncé having the most nominations (9) and award wins (4) that evening, subsequently breaking the all-time record of most Grammy wins ever by a female artist with 28 wins, (passing the record of 27 previously held by Allison Krauss.) But also, women as a whole were seen dominating the night’s nomination and award wins. All four major awards of the night went to women: 

  • Album of the Year: Taylor Swift
  • Record of the Year: Billie Eilish 
  • Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion [the first female rapper to win the award] 
  • Song of the Year: H.E.R.

These wins made history on both small and large scales, inspiring local female musicians to talk about what that means for women in music going forward. 

Reese Daugherty is a CHS senior who has been part of the area’s music community for years. Here, she has left her mark as both a performer and influential voice in Carlisle’s music community, through local venues, CHS’s annual coffeehouse, and the Jason Smith memorial fun run, to name a few. 

“I was really excited to see all the female representation, especially with some of my favorite artists like H.E.R.,” Daugherty said. “Women have been present in music for quite some time, but what’s so important is seeing more women in traditionally male-dominated roles like lead guitarists, drummers, bassists producers, etc.” 

Daugherty also reflected on her career as a musician when asked about the current influence of women in music media. 

“I don’t think people understand how inspiring it is to see women in these roles,” she said. “I’m going to major in music in college with my guitar as my primary instrument. I never would have picked up a guitar if it hadn’t been for the female guitarists who came before me.” 

Seeing women in influential roles such as those at the Grammys is a great first step to equality in music. However, there is still work to be done in creating a safe and even playing field for all artists, both locally and nationally.

It’s so important to have women in music and break the stigma of women being incapable of making art in traditionally male-dominated ways.”

— Reese Daugherty

“Sexism is something that is still very present in music,” Daugherty said. “I know there have been numerous times in male-dominated music settings where certain men had low expectations of me and tried to control my role. It’s so important to have women in music and break the stigma of women being incapable of making art in traditionally male-dominated ways.” 

Molly Lowe is a CHS sophomore who also took notice of the Grammy wins as a female performer. Lowe, who has been a part of the choir department since freshman year, said that “I think women winning these awards is a big step in the industry to empower and inspire young girls who aspire to be in the industry one day like them.” 

“I am not in any way a pop musician,” Lowe followed, “whereas most of the nominees write music in the pop genre. However, as a woman, it does make me very happy to see other women be successful and get the appreciation they deserve.”

Much like Daugherty and Lowe, other women in music are starting to see paths to success opening up, with a recent movement of women reclaiming their voices through art and performance. So while we may still have barriers to break, the Grammys 2021 showed a turn in the right direction for equality and the future emergence of women leaders in music and the arts. 

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2020-2021 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.