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Beyond Sister Rosetta Tharpe. 10 badass female guitarists you must know. #SoundCheck

There’s a common narrative that there aren’t many great female guitarists. Well, frankly that’s just bullshit. While it’s true there are more male guitarists deified as “rock gods,” the mere fact of how difficult it was to narrow this list down to 10 speaks to how desperately that myth needs to die.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

So much of what we define as rock guitar wouldn’t exist without the pioneering work of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Primarily a gospel singer, her treatment of the electric guitar as a distinct instrument from the acoustic laid the groundwork for the next 60 years of rock.


Tamar-Kali

Tamar-Kali has risen to near icon status in the New York underground for her songs that drive powerful social commentary with a positive, personal feel. Whether backed by a string quartet as she has lately, or with her full band, Tamar-Kali’s power as a songwriter is undeniable.


Lady Bo

As true as it is that rock wouldn’t be the same without Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley wouldn’t be the same without Lady Bo. Known as The Originator, his lead guitarist from 1957 to 1961 played an integral role in shaping the sound of rock guitar.


Valerie June

Valerie June recieves a lot of (deserved) accolades for her unique voice, but not nearly enough notice for her nimble guitar work. Her brilliance as a guitarist lies in her ability to make complex classic blues riffs sound almost effortless.


Diamond Rowe

Maybe because of its aggression and iconic facial hair, metal is often painted as a boys-only-club. But there’s no shortage of woman who can shred. Diamond Rowe has earned a name for herself as the lead guitarist of thrash band Tetrarch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApabGBExgMY

Lianne La Havas

With a guitar as haunting as her voice, Lianne La Havas has been blowing up since releasing Is Your Love Big Enough. Her melancholy finger-picked guitar lines twist and bend beneath her massive vocals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcXl6CDqpvY

Toshi Reagon

The daughter of activist and Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (who if you haven’t seen live, you’re really missing out on a transcendent experience…), folk/blues musician Toshi Reagon’s badassery runs deep. Always outspoken, and always political, she proves that there is still water in the well of great activist/folk singers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvFouNTbwvM

Bibi McGill

Sure, it’s hard to be more mainstream pop than the reigning Queen of Pop Beyonce right now, but that doesn’t make her longtime lead guitarist Bibi McGill any less deserving of a shoutout. Besides, she has flames shooting out of a Flying V.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCPZW7enEcI

Malina Moye

Joining the legacy of great lefty guitarists Malina Moye blends funk, rock, and hip-hop with pop vocals and a DIY ethic. Her continued feats of guitar heroics earned her a proclamation of Malina Moye Day in her hometown of Lorraine, Ohio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GXaPjUVjfQ

Andy Allo

It says a lot about a guitarist’s skill when they can hold their own next to legendary guitar god Prince. But the Revolution’s current guitarist proved with her latest solo record Superconductor that she can more than stand on her own.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1vAw00p7HU

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Comment by NAKED TRUTH on October 30, 2013 at 10:33am

LOVE IT HOPE TO SEE MORE THE INDUSTRY HAVE PEOPLE BELIEVING MEN ARE THE DOMINATE FORCE IN MUSIC BUT MUSIC IS GIFT FROM THE GODDESSES THEN IT IS DISTORTED THRU THE CONTROL OF THE BUSINESS SET UP BY YOU KNOW WHO BIG UP AP FOR THIS ARTICLE

Comment by Hitch on October 27, 2013 at 5:07pm

Dope list

Comment by Mawsi on October 26, 2013 at 8:55am
Yeah! Sistaz rocks
Comment by benelson on October 25, 2013 at 9:50pm

I love this list.  ..Bout time the ladies get their spot light.  Shine on Sistas

Comment by RaShonda on October 25, 2013 at 3:45pm

Awesome links and info. Thanks!

Comment by SecondLady on October 25, 2013 at 3:37pm

THIS list!! Gettin' shared all over the place.


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