The 50 Most Important Queer Women in Music


24 Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore was first known as a pop singer in the 1960s with her hit “It’s My Party” which sold more than one million copies and was nominated for a Grammy. Several other hit singles followed including, “You Don’t Own Me” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Despite a few brief hiatuses, Lesley has continued to record, as well as write songs, and came out in 2005 (having known her sexual orientation since her teens.) She currently serves as a host of the PBS program, In the Life, a gay-themed documentary series.

23 Holly Near

Initially an actress known for shows like The Mod Squad, Holly later became famous for her folk feminist music, founding Redwood Records and collaborating with other protest artists like Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Pete Seeger. As one of the pioneers of the women’s music movement, she has won several awards including the Legends of Women’s Music Award.

22 Amanda Palmer

Out bisexual musician Amanda Palmer built a fanbase from her cabaret/punk in the Dresden Dolls and later expanded it when she recorded her solo LP, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? The queen of self-promotion, Palmer controls everything she puts her name on, from musical projects to books, art and collaborations with other artists, which include Kill Hannah and …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. After infamously asking her record label, Roadrunner, to drop her, Amanda has become an independent entity that makes the most of her own product: herself.

21 Me’shell Ndegeocello

With 10 Grammy nominations in her career, Me’shell has been a critical favorite since her 1993 debut album, Plantation Lullabies. Her bass playing and signature alto voice helped her become a driving force in neo-soul, a genre she is widely credited with creating. Ndegeocello is an out bisexual.

20 Lady Gaga

When Lady Gaga came out as bisexual, it seemed like it could be a stunt. She was relatively new at the time, but has since gone on the record (with Barbara Walters, no less) to say she’s had several sexual relationships with women. Gaga has also been outspoken for LGBT rights and kissed women in two of her music videos. Her success as a pop star is unparalleled today, spawning comparisons to Madonna and earning her mentions as one of the most influential people in the world by Time and Forbes magazines. Before fame became a monster, Gaga wrote songs for Britney Spears, Fergie and the Pussycat Dolls.

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