This year was a fair one for lesbian and bisexual visibility in music, with out women receiving respect from critics and fans while also being unashamed of their sexuality; many of them using their very public platforms to be voices for equality and fairness. But 2015 was not without controversies or eye-roll-worthy moments, either, all which helped to create some much-needed ongoing conversations about identity, intersectionality and its place in pop culture.
Courtney Barnett made a strong showing this year with her debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which secured her a spot playing on The Ellen Show and a Grammy nod for Best New Artist. The Aussie indie darling is openly in a relationship with another musician (Jen Cloher) and has a song about their love called “Pickles from the Jar.”
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Also up for a Grammy this year is The Internet, whose Ego Death is nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Fronted by out DJ/MC Syd Tha Kyd, the group’s third full-length featured collaborations with Janelle Monae and Vic Mensa.
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Brandi Carlile received her first Grammy nod this year for The Firewatcher’s Daughter, her first album with new label ATO Records. The Seattle-based musician spent a majority of the year touring with co-conspirators the Hanseroth Brothers and also brought her Fight the Fear campaign to several cities.
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Tegan and Sara spent most of 2015 recording their follow-up to Heartthrob, but they made time to perform at the opening ceremony of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Edmonton.
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Country singer Brandy Clark released her album, 12 Stories, in 2014, but her 2015 single “Hold My Hand” was eligible to put her up for another Grammy: Best Country Song. Her first single, “Stripes,” won her International Song of the Year at the British Country Music Association Awards earlier this year.
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Angel Haze was a guest on MTV’s Catfish and off-shoot special Truce this year, bringing the pansexual, agender artist a new set of fans. But it was their new album, Back to the Woods, that kept them listening. Angel was also nominated for a GLAAD award in 2015: Outstanding Music Artist.
St. Vincent (nee Annie Clark) continued touring off of her 2014 self-titled album throughout the year and also appeared on stage with Taylor Swift and Beck as part of Taylor’s 1989 tour. Annie never had an official coming out, (telling Rolling Stone she believes in sexual fluidity), but publicly acknowledged her relationship with model/actress Cara Delevingne.
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Miley Cyrus performed with Joan Jett at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, as well as in her Backyard Sessions benefitting her Happy Hippie Foundation earlier this year. Identifying herself as pansexual, Miley released an album with her band The Dead Petz that included a song about having sex with a woman (“Bang Me Box”). Although she’s been a voice for the LGBT community in 2015, she also stirred up controversy with her cultural appropriation while hosting the MTV VMAs and on tour.
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Holly Miranda‘s self-titled album came out on new label Dangerbird Records with single “All I Want is to Be Your Girl.” She toured throughout the year and continued to support feminist non-profit organization Lady Parts Justice.
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Other out artists who released new music this year include THEESatisfaction, Des Ark, Soko, SOAK, Shura, Lower Dens, K’s Choice, Sizzy Rocket, Peaches, Hemming, Natasha Kmeto, Worriers, Micachu and the Shapes, Sea of Bees, CocoRosie, Sick of Sarah and Vanessa Carlton.