20+ Celebrating Female Blues & Rock Guitarists

In celebration of Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the remarkable talents of female guitarists. These accomplished individuals not only excel in playing the guitar but also contribute significantly as vocalists, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists. Despite being underrepresented compared to their male counterparts, their prowess deserves recognition.

Below is a curated selection of exceptional female guitar players, presented in no particular order. This list is by no means exhaustive, as the musical landscape is rich with countless extraordinary women musicians, both past and present. Feel free to share your suggestions as we pay homage to these influential artists.

For each guitarist, you’ll find insightful information, a captivating video showcasing their skills, and a link to explore more on the artist’s official website. Let’s celebrate the diversity and immense talent within the world of female guitarists.

Female Blues & Rock Guitarists

Delving into the rich tapestry of music history, it’s essential to spotlight the often underrated yet immensely talented female blues and rock guitarists who have left an indelible mark on these genres. Traditionally dominated by male figures, these women have defied stereotypes, proving that the blues and rock are not exclusive domains but open landscapes for any formidable musician to explore.

In this exploration, we’ll journey through the soulful notes and electrifying riffs created by these exceptional artists. Their contributions extend beyond the strings of their guitars, encompassing vocals, songwriting, and a musical prowess that has shaped the very fabric of blues and rock. Despite facing challenges and being underrepresented, these women have carved out their spaces, becoming inspirations for aspiring musicians and testament to the enduring power of music to transcend gender barriers.

1. Bonnie Raitt

Renowned as both a best-selling artist and a highly revered figure in blues, roots, and Americana music, Bonnie Raitt stands as an icon in the American music scene. With a remarkable ten Grammy Awards to her name, including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, she solidifies her status as a musical institution. In 2000, Raitt achieved another milestone by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Her 17th album, “Dig in Deep,” saw the light of day in 2016, garnering her a nomination for “Artist of the Year” at the 2016 Americana Music Honors and Awards. Bonnie Raitt’s musical legacy has made her one of America’s most beloved female musicians. Building on her storied career, Raitt is set to release her latest album, “Just Like That..,” on April 22, 2022.

2. Ana Popovic

Ana Popovic, an acclaimed guitarist, singer, and songwriter, has once again captured attention with her nomination for Blues Rock Artist of the Year at the 43rd Blues Music Awards. With a remarkable career that spans 10 albums, this award-winning musician hails from Belgrade and made her initial mark alongside legends like Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Double Trouble, and Eric Gales on the Jimi Hendrix Tribute album, “Blue Haze: Songs of Jimi Hendrix.”

Since her debut, Popovic has emerged as a captivating force in the music scene, blending blues, rock, soul, and jazz with unparalleled skill. In 2016, she released “Trilogy,” a notable album featuring guest appearances by Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, Cody Dickinson, and more. Her most recent album, “Like It On Top” (2018), was produced by the renowned Keb’ Mo’.

With an extensive touring history spanning two decades, Ana Popovic continues to captivate audiences worldwide, solidifying her reputation as a dynamic and enduring presence in the music industry.

3. Susan Tedeschi

Susan Tedeschi, a vocalist and guitarist with multiple accolades to her name, co-founded the Tedeschi Trucks Band alongside her husband Derek Trucks in 2010. Together, the band achieved significant recognition, securing a Grammy Award and five Blues Music Awards. The Tedeschi Trucks Band, comprising 12 talented members, has notably released four studio albums and three live albums, showcasing their exceptional musicianship on a global scale.

Prior to her involvement with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Susan Tedeschi had already established herself as a highly acclaimed guitarist and vocalist, enjoying a successful solo career. Her musical journey has been marked by both individual triumphs and collaborative achievements, contributing to her well-deserved reputation as a versatile and accomplished artist.

4. Orianthi

Hailing from Australia, Orianthi is not only a platinum-selling recording artist but also a world-class rock guitarist. Her breakthrough as a solo artist and singer-songwriter came with the Geffen Records release of “According To You,” a track that has achieved RIAA-Certified Platinum® status and garnered over 27 million streams on Spotify.

Fans who have followed Orianthi’s illustrious career are accustomed to witnessing this exceptional guitarist grace arenas alongside rock royalty and global superstars such as Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Carrie Underwood, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper, and more. Orianthi’s debut album, “Believe,” hit the scene in 2007, followed by “Heaven in This Hell” in 2013 and ‘O’ in 2020.

As a multiple award-winning guitarist, Orianthi is celebrated for her extraordinary playing, solidifying her status as a prominent figure in the world of rock music.

5. Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish, a versatile and acclaimed artist, boasts a multitude of talents as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Fish expands her repertoire as a record label owner and record producer. With numerous awards under her belt (too numerous to detail here), she has crafted an impressive discography of 11 albums.

Her latest release, “Faster” (2021), stays true to her genre-bending nature, featuring combustible riffs, danceable rhythms, and powerful vocals. Following her 2019 effort, “Kill or Be Kind,” the album showcases Fish’s dynamic musical range. Recognized for her commanding stage presence, Fish is renowned for delivering electrifying live performances that further solidify her status as a formidable force in the music industry.

6. Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland, the acclaimed Texas guitar virtuoso, vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, achieved a historic milestone as the inaugural female lead guitar player for blues legend John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Additionally, she made history as the first female guitar maestro to sign with Alligator Records. Wonderland, recognized for her potent vocals and incendiary guitar skills, draws comparisons to luminaries like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Janis Joplin, yet she brings a distinctive style uniquely her own.

With an impressive discography that includes 12 previous albums under her name, her latest release, “Tempting Fate” (2021), is a testament to her prowess, launched under the Alligator label. Wonderland’s musical journey has seen her grace significant platforms, including appearances on Austin City Limits, NPR’s Weekend Edition, and a notable role alongside Bonnie Raitt in the film “The Road To Austin.” Her contributions to the music scene have garnered multiple Austin Music Awards, further solidifying her position as a trailblazing and influential artist.

7. Joanne Shaw Taylor

Joanne Shaw Taylor, the acclaimed British blues rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, stands out as an award-winning artist known for her electrifying guitar skills and soulful vocal delivery. Her journey into the limelight began at the age of 16 when she was discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. Since that pivotal moment, she has evolved into one of the most sought-after guitarists in the realm of blues-rock.

Boasting an impressive discography of nine albums, her latest release, “The Blues Album,” is a testament to her prowess. Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, the album was unveiled on Bonamassa’s KTBA Records. Joanne Shaw Taylor’s reputation as a formidable and soulful guitar player and singer has transcended borders, as she continues to captivate audiences worldwide through her dynamic performances on the global stage.

8. Jackie Venson

Jackie Venson made history as the first African American female guitarist to clinch the title of “Best Guitarist” at the Austin Music Awards. Growing up in Austin, Texas, Venson initially received classical training as a pianist. However, during her senior year at Berklee College of Music, she picked up the electric guitar and never looked back.

At the age of 26 in 2016, Venson showcased her musical prowess on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, sharing the stage with The Late Show Band. Returning two years later, she graced the show for three consecutive nights, showcasing her talents as both a guitarist and vocalist. Recently, Venson embarked on a national tour alongside Grammy Award winner Gary Clark Jr. Forbes aptly describes her as “truly an Austin legend in the making.”

With a musical journey that includes four studio albums, four live albums, and her latest releases, “Vintage Machine” in 2020 and “Joy Alive” in 2021, Jackie Venson continues to carve her path as a groundbreaking and influential figure in the music scene.

9. Joanna Connor

Joanna Connor, the accomplished slide guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter based in Chicago, has earned widespread recognition as one of the foremost Queens of blue/rock guitar. Making her debut at Chicago’s premier blues venue, Kingston Mines, in the 1980s, she has maintained a thrice-weekly presence on its stage ever since, all while gracing larger clubs and festivals with her performances. Connor’s illustrious career includes sharing stages with legendary figures such as Jimmy Page, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, A.C. Reed, and more.

Renowned for her virtuosity on the slide guitar, powerful vocals, and songwriting prowess, Connor boasts a discography of 14 albums. Her latest release, “4801 South Indiana Avenue” (2021), produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, further cements her status as a musical force. Released under KTBA Records, Joanna Connor continues to be a vital presence in the blues/rock genre.

10. Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten earned a coveted spot in Michael Jackson’s band, embarking on a global tour promoting “BAD” that lasted a year and a half. Her exceptional talent led to a second invitation to join Michael Jackson’s subsequent “Dangerous Tour.” During breaks between her own solo projects, Batten received an invitation from Jeff Beck to join his band. The collaboration spanned three years, resulting in two albums and extensive world tours.

Batten’s musical journey extends beyond performance; she authored two music books and released three solo albums. In 2011, she showcased her guitar prowess in a residency for Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas. Continuing to share her expertise, Batten has multiple guitar courses available at Truefire.com, all while maintaining her musical partnership with Jeff Beck. In recognition of her contributions, she was honored with the She Rocks Icon Award in 2016 and was inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s prestigious “Gallery of the Greats.” With four solo albums to her credit and a substantial presence on numerous records, Jennifer Batten remains an influential and accomplished figure in the world of music.

11. Rory Block

Rory Block, a seven-time Blues Music Award Winner, stands as one of the preeminent queens of acoustic guitar. Renowned as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Block has rightfully earned her status as a blues legend. With an impressive discography of 36 albums, she takes her musical prowess on tours around the globe.

According to The Blues Foundation, Rory Block is hailed as the foremost female interpreter and authority on traditional country blues globally. She serves as a torchbearer for early American roots blues and is celebrated as a songwriter whose originals resonate with power and truth.

Praised by The New York Times for her “perfect” playing and “otherworldly” singing, Block’s musical impact extends to collaborations with luminaries like Stevie Wonder, Taj Mahal, and David Bromberg. Her latest album, “Power Women of the Blues” (2019), further solidifies her standing as an influential figure in the blues genre.

12. Nita Strauss

Nita Strauss, the reigning queen of shredding and rock guitar, has solidified her musical presence through her longstanding collaboration with shock rock legend Alice Cooper. Residing in Los Angeles, this exceptional rock player has garnered widespread acclaim within the industry, securing endorsements from Ibanez Guitars, Marshall Amplification, and DiMarzio Pickups. In a groundbreaking achievement, Nita became the first-ever female Ibanez signature artist in January 2018, introducing her own model guitar, the Ibanez JIVA10.

Initially recognized for her contributions to the all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, The Iron Maidens, Nita’s prowess has earned her recognition on magazine covers globally, including features in Guitar World and Guitar Player. She attained the notable rank of No. 1 on Guitar World’s list of “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.” The pinnacle of her achievements came in January 2022 when Nita was honored with the Inspire Award at the 7th Annual She Rocks Awards, further solidifying her status as a trailblazer in the world of rock guitar.

13. Lita Ford

Lita Ford, a rock legend originally from Britain who became an American icon, initially gained prominence as the lead guitarist for the Runaways during the 1970s. Subsequently launching a solo career, she achieved notable success, co-writing the hit “Close My Eyes Forever” with Ozzy Osbourne. Ford’s contributions include eight studio albums with Mercury and RCA, boasting numerous chart-topping hits. The zenith of her solo career was marked by the release of “Lita” in 1988, featuring the acclaimed track “Kiss Me Deadly.” Further albums, such as “Stiletto” and “Dangerous Curves,” followed.

Taking a hiatus from music, Ford relocated to the Caribbean with her two children. Upon her return to the music scene, she collaborated with Gary Hoey to co-produce her eighth solo album, “Living Like a Runaway.” In 2016, Ford added authorship to her repertoire with the release of her autobiography, “Living Like a Runaway,” followed by the album “Time Capsule.” The multifaceted career of Lita Ford remains an enduring testament to her influence in the rock genre.

14. Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson, a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, has left an indelible mark on the music industry with a discography that spans 16 albums and sales exceeding 35 million worldwide. Garnering four Grammy nominations alongside her sister and lead vocalist, Ann Wilson, with their band Heart, they achieved a significant milestone as the first rock band fronted by women. Heart’s prolific output during the late 1970s and 1980s produced landmark albums.

Wilson is acclaimed for her distinctive guitar playing, skillfully blending elements of flamenco and classical styles with the power of hard rock. In 1995, she expanded her musical repertoire by delving into film composition, notably contributing to movies directed by her husband, Cameron Crowe. Recognizing her impact, Gibson Guitars ranked Nancy Wilson as the eighth-greatest female guitarist of all time.

In 2016, Wilson ventured into a new musical project, forming the band Roadcase Royale with former Prince band member Liv Warfield. Their debut album, “First Things First,” was released in September 2017. Continuing her musical journey, Nancy Wilson’s latest release, “You And Me” (2021), features collaborations with Sammy Hagar and Duff McKagan.

15. Larkin Poe

The Grammy Award-nominated sister duo comprising Rebecca and Megan Lovell has garnered international critical acclaim. Stationed in Nashville, the duo has an impressive discography that includes seven studio albums, with their latest release being “Kindred Spirits” (2020).

Renowned as Southern roots rockers and accomplished multi-instrumentalists, the Lovell sisters showcase remarkable vocal prowess and mastery over an array of instruments such as guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, lap steel, and dobro.

Their musical journey began professionally in 2005 when the Lovell sisters were still in their teens, setting the stage for a career marked by artistic excellence and recognition on the global stage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are some prominent female blues and rock guitarists?

Some notable female blues and rock guitarists include Bonnie Raitt, Ana Popovic, Samantha Fish, Jennifer Batten, Nita Strauss, and many others.

Why are female guitarists often underrepresented in blues and rock music?

The underrepresentation of female guitarists in blues and rock music can be attributed to historical gender biases in the music industry. However, there has been a growing recognition and appreciation for their talent in recent years.

What contributions have female guitarists made to the blues and rock genres?

Female guitarists have significantly contributed to the blues and rock genres by challenging stereotypes, bringing unique perspectives to their music, and showcasing exceptional skill both as guitarists and vocalists.

Who was the first female lead guitarist for a well-known band?

Jennifer Batten made history as the first female lead guitarist for Michael Jackson’s band, touring worldwide for several years.

Which female guitarist is known for her slide guitar and roots rock style?

The Lovell sisters, Rebecca and Megan, are recognized for their outstanding skills in slide guitar, roots rock, and a variety of other instruments.

Are there any all-female tribute bands in blues or rock?

Yes, bands like The Iron Maidens, an all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, showcase the talents of female musicians in paying homage to iconic rock bands.

What awards and recognitions have female blues and rock guitarists received?

Many female blues and rock guitarists have received Grammy Awards, Blues Music Awards, and other accolades. Examples include Bonnie Raitt, Ana Popovic, and Nita Strauss.

How has the perception of female guitarists evolved over time?

Over time, there has been a shift in perception, with increasing recognition and acceptance of female guitarists as equally capable and influential in blues and rock music.

Conclusion

The landscape of blues and rock music has been dynamically shaped by the immense talent and contributions of female guitarists. Despite historical challenges and underrepresentation, these women have risen to become trailblazers, earning acclaim for their exceptional skills and breaking down gender barriers in the industry.

From the legendary Bonnie Raitt to contemporary virtuosos like Nita Strauss and the Lovell sisters, the stories of these musicians underscore a narrative of resilience, creativity, and innovation. As we celebrate their achievements, it is evident that female blues and rock guitarists continue to redefine and expand the boundaries of these genres.

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