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In order to celebrate Women's History Month, Smithsonian Music is proud to feature "Women in Music" as this month's Spotlight. Enjoy essays written by Smithsonian staff and affiliates and browse through the Smithsonian's intensive collection. 


Bread and Raises: Songs for Working Women

Bobbie McGee

I’m "ninety pounds of fire in a five-foot frame and you’d better move on over" because I’m tired of working for "59 cents for every man’s dollar!" Bobbie McGhee means business, literally, in this album dedicated to the working woman.

Pioneering Women of Bluegrass

Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard

When Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard recorded these songs in the mid-1960s, bluegrass music was dominated by male performers. They selected their favorite songs and arranged them for a stellar group of sidemen—bluegrass legends Lamar Grier, Chubby Wise, David Grisman, and Billy Baker.

Heartbeat: Voices of First Nations Women

Various Artists

Powerful living music from Native women in the United States and Canada includes performances rarely heard beyond these artists’ communities. Ceremonial and social songs traditionally sung by women, other music now performed by women, and material that combines traditional and contemporary themes and musical forms.

To You with Love: American Folk Songs for Women

Herta Marshall

Herta Marshall began singing folk songs while on tour with Burl Ives, and she later sang and acted with Woody Guthrie. Her distinctive soprano soars through these classic ballads, which include "Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot" and "Shady Grove."

Traditional Women's Music from Ghana: Ewe, Fanti, Ashanti, and Dagomba

Various artists

Released in 1981, Traditional Women’s Music from Ghana features songs and dances attributed to women of the Ewe, Fanti, Ashanti, and Dagomba societies.

Entre Hermanas: Between Sisters: Women's Songs in Spanish Sung by Suni Paz

Suni Paz

"I want to dedicate this album to the many women who encouraged my work and inspired, through their example, my own struggle." Suni Paz 

"Quiero dedicar este álbum a las muchas mujeres que han apoyado mi trabajo e inspirado mi lucha a través de su propio ejemplo." Suni Paz

Afghanistan: Female Musicians of Herat

Various Artists

In Afghanistan, gender ideology profoundly affects musical life, as nearly all musical activity is segregated between women and men. Women perform primarily in small groups in domestic contexts, especially at private gatherings, weddings, and other rites of passage.

Songs of the Suffragettes

Elizabeth Knight

It is hard to believe in modern times that the issue of women's suffrage once wracked the nation. Riots, demonstrations, and indignant editorials highlight the history of this long battle that finally ended in 1920 with the 19th Amendment.

Songs of Fire: Songs of a Lesbian Anarchist

Kathy Fire

Kathy Fire, self-proclaimed lesbian anarchist, used her songs to fight battles (many of which are still being fought today): of labels like "lady, dyke, commie, sinner, and crazy," of "this woman’s game," of conforming to the limitations of "mainstream America." This singer-songwriter-guitarist uses her musical voice, modeled on the tradition of

Women in Music Folkways Playlist