Top 10 International Female Artists
Listening to music from around the globe is inspiring and opens you up to new cultures and sounds. There have been several artists that have successfully made crossovers from their originating countries and others that have produced albums in multiple languages.
Sharon den Adel
Dutch singer and songwriter Sharon den Adel emerges as lead vocalist for the symphonic metal band, Within Temptation. The mid-90’s band originally lent their musical talents toward a darker sound before eventually reaching a cinematic style with their album, Mother Earth.
Songs off the album showcase den Adel’s clear vocals as they offset the heavy instrumentation the band is known for. She talks about “Resist” and “Holy Ground” being the most meaningful songs to her due to the loss of her father at the time. In 2018, she continued her work in the music industry and debuted a solo project, My Indigo, which she says helped her get out of her comfort zone and get creative again.
Throughout her career in the music business, she’s had the opportunity to collaborate with other artists as a co-writer and singer, including Ali B and Evanescence. She names American rock bands Metallica and Nirvana as her musical inspiration and has credited music as a way to overcome a troubling childhood.
Edith Piaf is one of the most well-known international female artists that music is known for. As a French singer-songwriter and film actress, her unique voice, artistic charisma, and stage presence made her one of the most popular entertainers in Paris during the 1950s.
However, her music goes back several decades before to the early 1930s and stretches into the early 1960s. Her timeless sound is best recognized on songs including “La Vie en Rose”, “Sous le ciel de Paris” and “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
Born to a cafe singer mother and traveling acrobat father, it seems performing was already part of her from birth. It’s been said that her songs and singing expression reflected the tragedies of her life with somber, dramatic undertones. Even for those who may not be as familiar with Piaf by name, her signature sound is well-recognized.
Francoise Hardy is a prolific French singer and performer known for a contemporary sound that gained popularity during the mid-1960s. She led the way as part of the yé-yé movement, a subsection of the pop genre that emerged throughout Southern Europe. Though her lyrics are French, the sound is similar to other pop music being played on American radio during that decade.
She had a million-selling debut single with “Tous les garçons et les filles” and toured with popular male artists including Miles Davis, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan. One of her most popular albums was originally published without a title but is widely recognized as Mon Amie La Rose, named after the album’s most successful song.
In an interview with The Guardian, she reflected on the importance of sonority as well as the melody within music. She said, “Without the melody, there can be no words, but I also need this sonority, this poetic sound that the words make when they combine with the melody.”
Mina is known as one of the most successful women of mainstream Italian pop music. She also rose to fame in the 1960s and toured throughout Europe and Asia with singles like “Heisser Sand” and “Suna ni kieta namida.”
She is as well-known in her home country as she is in other cultures, which was part of her focus when sharing her music. Her album, The Collection 3.0, was released in 2015 and compiles her greatest hits sung throughout her career. The music collection covers three discs and 54 tracks and is a perfect introduction into the music of Mina or a good collector’s item for fans of the Italian songstress.
Taiwainese singer and actress Teresa Teng is a cultural icon that was one of the faces of Mandopop (Mandarin pop music). It combines jazz, folk, and pop music and instrumentation of the 1970s. She received several music awards in Japan, including The New Singer Award for “Kuko” and The Gold Award for “Toki no Nagare ni Mi o Makase.”
Teng was recognizable to many as Asia’s first international singing star, leaving a cultural impact, particularly on China and her homeland of Taiwan. Critics liken her sound to that of Canadian singer-songwriters Celine Dion and Joni Mitchell, due to her many romantic ballads and folk songs.
Moroccan singer-guitarist Yousra Manour serves as lead vocal performer for the Moroccan-French quartet, Bab L’Bluz, whose debut album Nayda! was re-released digitally in 2020. The sound is rooted in Gnawa culture and has a psychedelic, blues sound that translates internationally.
The significance of a female lead is important for the band, as they are devoted to catapulting women to the forefront of Gnawa bands and other styles of music known for highly patriarchal societies. As a result, their music reflects a flowing rhythm and eclectic sounds inspired by music of all genres and regions, including Arab-Andalusian music, Moroccan Chaabi, and music from South America.
Gnawa music has increased in popularity around the world in recent years due to the Essaouira Festival, which highlights music from different areas of the globe. Manour is one of the top female artists music has looked to when expanding outside of societal norms. She also led the “nayda” youth movement, which encapsulates a wave of artists who sing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect, both honoring their cultural heritage and bringing it into the mainstream.
Martha Agerich is an Argentine-Swiss who has been credited with being one of the greatest living classical concert pianists. She made her professional debut at the young age of eight, playing Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor” and Beethoven’s “First Piano Concerto in C major.”
Her piano career has spanned over several decades, starting when she won the International Chopin Piano Competition at the age of 24 in 1965. Over the years, she has served as a jury member for many international competitions and launched her own annual festival to help nurture young pianists. She frequently collaborates with other artists, performs special concerts, and teaches piano masterclasses. Agerich has gained international music acclaim and has earned three Grammy Awards among her many accolades.
Jacqueline Du Pre
Jacqueline Du Pre is regarded as one of the most renowned cellists of her time. As a young musician, she brought classical music to mainstream popularity during her short career. Du Pre was born in Oxford, England and made her formal classical music debut at the young age of 16 at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1962.
She went on to perform at the Royal Festival Hall the next year, playing alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She is most famously known for her recording of “Cello Concerto in E Minor.” Du Pre earned international recognition by the age of 20 with her recording of the Elgar Concerto for EMI with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Barbiorolli. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis shortened her career as her condition worsened, but her contributions to international music live on.
Although born in New York City to Greek parents, soprano Maria Callas was known largely for her operatic career in Greece. Her wide range and dramatic interpretations lent itself well to classical opera sounds, similar to bel canto techniques found in the works of Bellini and Rossini.
She received her musical education in Athens under the tutelage of Maria Trivella from the Greek National Conservatoire. Callas made her public debut in the spring of 1938 at a recital of Trivella’s class by singing a duet from Tosca. Throughout her career, her voice was dubbed as instantly recognizable for its pure timbre and richness to her vocals.
Les Filles De Illighadad
Les Filles de Illighadad is an all-female Tuareg band founded by Fatou Seidi Ghali, originating in the Saharan Desert. As self-taught guitarists, the band’s sound has been described as meditative and tender, evolving from the cultural sounds of West Africa.
Their contribution to the international music scene includes mixing traditional percussion with electric guitars to give folk music a modern spin. It embodies the free folk sound of its homeland and adds new elements to create an avant-garde musical genre all its own.
Exploring Music That Spans the Globe
Victorla isn’t one of those record stores that only cares about selling their albums. We are passionate about introducing our customers to unique records and artists that push musical boundaries to defy industry norms. This allows you to explore music that will have a true personal impact. The globally recognized female musicians mentioned above have broken barriers and have reached international music fame, making it appealing to the mainstream. These artists have all used their talents to introduce their unique, cultural sounds to wide audiences and create a place for themselves among music history.
Each female artist brings a rich background and contribution to the music scene at large, which has helped pave the way for new generations of musicians that want to explore beyond the traditional sounds or expectations set for them. Listening to any of these international female artists on vinyl only enriches the listening experience and amplifies a well-rounded record collection.
Still looking to learn about the power of females within the music industry? Continue to read about how females have used anthem music to spark inspiration and fight for what they believe in.