Despite the fact that the pop charts are still dominated by men, and according to USC News, songwriting and producing are roles predominantly occupied by men, there is no denying the contributions women have made to the music industry. Just ask Mariah Carey, who has 18 number-one hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, the most of any current living solo artist (male or female). Or Rihanna, who is right on Carey’s tail at 14 number-one hits. But while there is a plethora of well-established female vocalists in the industry who are making their mark and paving the way for up-and-coming talent, there are several obscure names that have either vanished from our consciousness over time, or were just never introduced to audiences properly. It is because of their unquestionable talent that they should be acknowledged more than they are. Here is a list of 5 female vocalists that more people should most definitely be aware of.
Remember Jojo? For millennials out there, don’t pretend that you weren’t singing “Leave (Get Out)” or “Too Little Too Late” at the top of your lungs when you were young teenagers. For many of us, these two jams will never get old, and they happen to be the biggest songs of singer Jojo’s career. After the release of “Too Little Too Late”, we patiently waited for new music from the powerhouse vocalist, but it seemed as though she went completely off the radar. Instead of new music, Jojo turned to acting, starring in films such as Aquamarine and RV. Reports surfaced in 2013 that Jojo had filed a lawsuit against her then record labels, Da Family Entertainment and Blackground Records, citing “irreparable damages to her professional career.” To Jojo, this meant that her labels were essentially holding her and her contract hostage for years and were not allowing for the release of any new music. She was finally granted a contract release in 2014 and moved onto Atlantic Records, where she finally dropped her long-awaited third album titled Mad Love, ten years after her second album. She has since departed Atlantic, and at 27 years old, is still working on new music. But her voice and her talent should be heard by more ears, just like when she was 16.
Longtime fans of American Idol should remember Jessica Sanchez, the runner-up on the eleventh season of the singing competition show. Born in Chula Vista California to a Filipina mother and Mexican-American father, her powerhouse vocals stunned viewers of the show and she received the most standing ovations from the judges than any contestant on her season. Despite being unceremoniously eliminated early on in the competition, and subsequently saved by judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Randy Jackson, Sanchez was picked by many to be the ultimate winner. That did not happen, but she was still destined for stardom following the conclusion of that season. Post Idol, she released her debut album titled Me, You & The Music in 2013 which allowed her to showcase her amazing talent on original songs written just for her. However, no new full-length album has been released since then. Instead, Sanchez put out an Extended Play of holiday songs in 2015 titled Christmas with Jessica and has been posting videos of her singing on YouTube. In May of 2016, she released a new single called “Call Me” from a new album that has not yet been given a release date. We hope it is put out soon enough and more people take note of this amazing 23-year-old talent.
Like Jessica Sanchez, Melanie Amaro was first introduced to audiences on a competition reality show. She auditioned with Beyonce’s “Listen” for the American version of Simon Cowell’s X Factor to a huge standing ovation. Despite being mistakenly sent home by Cowell himself right before the live shows even began, the Fort Lauderdale native was brought back and ultimately won the first season of the show due to her indisputable talent. Her voice reminded many viewers of the late Whitney Houston. Her prize was a $5 Million recording contract with Cowell’s record label, Syco Music. Post X Factor, Amaro released two singles titled “Don’t Fail Me Now” and “Long Distance” from her debut album. The release of the actual album was continuously pushed back to the point where the record label announced that there was no set release date. Seven years later and tragically, the 26-year-old still does not have an album out. She has emphatically expressed her frustration with her record label through a song called “Fuel My Fire”, released on Soundcloud. Recently, she ventured into Broadway to showcase her talent and to remind the people why she won. In 2017 she welcomed a baby boy and is cherishing her new role as mommy. Here’s hoping that this beautiful and powerful vocalist releases an album soon and gets the recognition she deserves.
Yet another singer who was first introduced on a singing competition show, Loren Allred auditioned for the third season of The Voice and made it to the live shows as part of Adam Levine’s team. She was eliminated week 1, but Allred did not allow that blow keep her down for long. After the show, Allred went right to work and began working non-stop in the studio. In 2014, she was asked to record demos and even sing in The Greatest Showman ensemble for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who lent their songwriting talents to La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. Allred had no idea they would use her amazing vocals for the film in the emotionally powerful song “Never Enough”. She may not be seen in the film but she is definitely heard. Allred provides the vocals for actress Rebecca Ferguson and her character Jenny Lind, a 19th-century singing sensation who ultimately falls in love with P.T. Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman. Allred has yet to sign with a record label, despite being courted by many to sign with them. She made it clear that she enjoys the freedom to do things on her own terms. Perhaps she’s learned from the struggles of Jojo, Jessica Sanchez, and Melanie Amaro. We hope to hear new and original music from this 29-year-old soon enough.
Tori Kelly is perhaps the most recognizable artist on this list to today’s generation, and quite arguably, the most well-rounded. She is a singer, songwriter and record producer, who can play guitar, bass, piano, drums, and keyboard. Yet, she does not get the recognition she so rightfully deserves. Equipped with breathtaking vocal talent, Kelly’s most successful singles to date are “Should’ve Been Us” and “Nobody Love”. In 2016, she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category but ultimately lost out to Meghan Trainor. Since then, Kelly has been consistently releasing new music in hopes of someday securing her spot amongst the best in the business. Her second album titled Hiding Place was just released on September 14, where she fuses Gospel with Jazz and R&B. Her vocal range and the way she has mastered the art of riffing is untouchable. Tori Kelly not only deserves a Grammy Award, but she also deserves to be performing on the Grammy stage so her talent can be seen, appreciated and respected by more people.