The 50 Most Important Queer Women in Music

4 k.d. lang

As the original lesbian country singer, k.d. has been successful in several genres, winning four Grammys over three decades and recording several songs for film soundtracks and collaborating with the likes of Tony Bennett. k.d. has never been shy about putting her sexuality out there and letting herself be a dyke icon. She appeared in the coming out episode of Ellen and also posed for the famous "lesbian chic" cover of Vanity Fair with Cindy Crawford.

3 Amy Ray

The year before Tracy Chapman won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Album, the Indigo Girls won the same category. As one half of the seminal lesbian folk duo, Ray has also found success with her own record label and solo career, and helping other burgeoning lesbian musicians find their footing in the industry, including Melissa York (The Butchies, Humble Tripe) and Brandi Carlile.

2 Dusty Springfield

The out bisexual singer had one of the most influential country albums of all time with her 1969 release Dusty in Memphis. It was only a year later she told the press she was as interested in women as she was in men, and she continued to record 10 more albums after the fact. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, 10 days after she died of cancer. She lives on with her amazing voice as evident on some of her most famous songs such as "The Son of a Preacher Man" and "Your Love Still Brings Me to My Knees."

1 Melissa Etheridge

There’s no denying that Melissa’s name has been synonymous with out and proud rock musician for the last two decades. Rejected by Olivia Records early in her career, Etheridge went on to become the highest-selling out lesbian musician and has won two Grammys and an Academy Award. After coming out in 1993 at the Triangle Ball, a gay/lesbian celebration of President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, her album Yes I Am spent 138 weeks on the Billboard charts, giving her a breakthrough hits, "Come to My Window" and "I’m the Only One." Coming out before Ellen, Melissa was the mainstream lesbian icon of the 1990s.

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