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Guitar Goddess

Female Guitar Goddesses Worldwide

The-donnasAspiring to nothing more than a good old-fashioned rock & roll party, the Donnas won a cult following and considerable media attention in the late ’90s after scoring a record deal right out of high school.

Early on, they were invariably described as “the Ramones meet the Runaways,” with a definite emphasis on the former (they’d even adopted identical first names as a tribute). But their bratty high-school-delinquent image was clearly indebted to the latter, as their songs concerned themselves mostly with boys, booze, drugs, and hated classmates.

As the Donnas grew up and polished their technical abilities, their music evolved into a distinctly female take on cock-rock metal, drawing more from AC/DC, Kiss, and Mötley Crüe than from punk. Some critics praised their cheerfully crude adoption of male sexual bravado; others complained that the band’s music never transcended its vintage influences, and remained suspicious that their naughty-girl packaging was a bigger part of their appeal.

Nonetheless, the Donnas caught the attention of major label Atlantic, who signed them up in late 2001. Launched with a new wave of publicity, the Donnas’ label debut, Spend the Night, arrived in 2002 and became their first album to break into the Top 100 of the pop charts. It also earned them their biggest radio hit to date in the single “Take It Off,” whose video also got some MTV airplay.

In the summer of 2003, the Donnas played the main stage on the revived Lollapalooza tour. That September, after a full year and a half of touring and promoting, the girls took a break to rest up.

kelly-dealKelley Deal was born 11 minutes before her sister. The Deal twins grew up in Huber Heights, a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. The sisters first played together in their late teens, Kim playing guitar and both sisters singing Hank Williams songs in biker bars.

They both had an opportunity to join the Pixies in the mid-’80s, with Kim on bass and Kelley on drums; Kim followed through while Kelley opted to move to California. While Kim made her mark as an indie musician, Kelley worked in computer programming.

In 1992, Kelley Deal joined the band as third guitarist, even though she didn’t really know how to play. The Safari EP was the first recording she appeared on. Guitarist Tanya Donnelly left to form Belly a little after the release of Safari. Kim suggested Kelley should be the band’s new drummer. After Kelley insisted on lead guitar, Kim gave her a crash course on all the songs in the band’s set.

Kelley picked up quickly and learned all the lead parts on Pod and the new parts on the album they were about to record, Last Splash. A new drummer from Dayton, Jim MacPherson, joined them. After Last Splash was released in 1993, the band toured, opening for Nirvana, and also got a slot on the Lollapalooza tour in 1994.

sheryl-crowSheryl began piano lessons at age 5, and growing up on the music of artists such as Christine McVie, Elton John, and Bob Dylan, she composed her first song at age 13. She went on to major in music at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and while there, she became part of a rock cover band named Cashmere. After graduating, Sheryl taught music to autistic children for two years at a St. Louis elementary school, and has since been an advocate of Save the Music, a program that supports the teaching of music in schools.

Sheryl’s career as a professional singer/songwriter has its roots in hard work and perseverance. She began by moving to Los Angeles in 1986, where she worked as a waitress and searched for music gigs in her free time. Eventually, she managed to get work singing for several commercial spots, including a McDonald’s jingle. Around this time, she auditioned as a backup singer for Michael Jackson, and impressed his camp enough to be accepted onto the two year Bad world tour.

Following the end of Jackson’s tour in 1989, Sheryl suffered a six month bout with depression. Her music career managed to survive through this tumultuous time, and she got more work doing backup vocals for Sting, Foreigner, Stevie Wonder, and Rod Stewart, as well as for Don Henley on the End of the Innocence tour.

Meanwhile, she continued to write songs, some of which were recorded by the likes of Celine Dion, Wynonna Judd, and Eric Clapton. Sheryl’s debut album Tuesday Night Music Club was released in the fall of 1993. In early 1994, it began climbing the charts, fueled by the success of the single “Leaving Las Vegas.” The infectious pop-single All I Wanna Do, the work on Tuesday Night Music Club earned Sheryl a slew of awards.

At the 37th Annual Grammy Awards in 1995, “All I Wanna Do” won Record of the Year, the first time the award had been scooped up by a newcomer in years. Sheryl also won Best Female Pop Vocal for the song, as well as Best New Artist. The album has sold over 6 million copies.

Vivian-ClementAt the age of 12, Vivian Clement picked up her father’s guitar – it was love at first sight. Within a short period of time she was playing guitar and singing harmonies in her local church choir. Just a few years later, Vivian was performing for corporate events and bars in her hometown in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

“As a child, I really enjoyed drawing and painting. At seventeen, I won a summer scholarship to study art at the Ontario Art Gallery, in Toronto. I had already been playing guitar for several years and wasn’t sure if I should become an artist or a musician. Once I finished my scholarship, I realized that I had more of a passion for music, so I decided to make a career as a guitarist.”
Vivian moved to Toronto to study jazz guitar at Humber College with Peter Harris. She also took private vocal lessons with pop/classical teacher Helen Knight.

charoThere is much more to Charo than meets the eye. She is a gifted comedienne who prides herself on putting on shows suitable for families and is also a very talented Spanish guitarist and singer. Although she professionally mangles the English language on-stage, she can read and write it fluently; Charo is also fluent in Japanese, French, and Spanish.

As a young girl, she studied guitar under Andres Segovia, one of the fathers of modern classical guitar music. She came to the U.S. in the ’70s and married the much older Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat.

A regular on television talk shows of the era, she appeared frequently in nightclubs and occasionally as a television actress in shows such as Fantasy Island. She has gained most of her renown on the nightclub circuit touring such hot spots as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but after the birth of her son in the early ’80s, she and her new husband moved to Hawaii.

Tracy-ChapmanTracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the ’80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman’s eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact.

Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the ’70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics.

At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her success ushered in a new era of singer/songwriters that lasted well into the ’90s. Furthermore, her album helped usher in the era of political correctness — along with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapman’s liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late ’80s.

Of course, such implications meant that Chapman’s subsequent recordings were greeted with mixed reactions, but after several years out of the spotlight, she managed to make a very successful comeback in 1996 with her fourth album, New Beginning, thanks to the Top Ten single “Give Me One Reason.”

nori-bucciI taught myself how to play by listening to my favorite records and picking out the songs by ear. When I was about 16, I began playing around with fingerstyle and classical stuff, and mastered alot of pretty advanced techniques before ever taking lessons.

I also began trying my hand at composition as a teenager, writing guitar based instrumental music, and short pieces for fingerstyle guitar. I currently have two cd’s available; “Speak My Soul” and “Tales of a Dream”, which I composed, performed and recorded in my very modest home studio.

In 1994, I studied music theory with the very renowned Buffalo guitarist Tony Scozzaro. I attended Villa Maria College for music in 1996, studying with masters like James Kertzdorfer and Jeremy Sparks.

In June of 2002, I was selected as one of five finalists in the “North American Rock Guitar Competition” and was awarded second place. Buffalo music critic Jeff Meyers wrote “Nori Bucci showed that she had the talent to take it all!”.

In November of 2003, I won best rock guitarist at the Buffalo music awards. That was an unexpected, and very pleasant, surprise. I currently play locally with the popular Buffalo Jazz/Rock/Fusion band ‘Gamalon’, and am 1/2 of what I consider a very unique and progressive acoustic guitar duo, called ‘Guitar Pirates’. .. ……

liona-boydInternationally known as “The First Lady of the Guitar”, Liona Boyd has held a unique position in the world of the classical guitar, through her arranging, her composing, and her twenty two albums, many of which attained gold and platinum status.

After studying in Paris Liona burst on the music scene in the mid-seventies gathering raves for her virtuoso playing.

She made her debut at Carnegie recital hall, played 100 concerts opening for Gordon Lightfoot, toured internationally as a soloist and guest of symphony orchestras, commissioned composers to write new repertoire for her, appeared on dozens of TV shows, hosted several TV specials,won five Juno Awards and became one of the world’s leading classical guitarists.

She has composed many original pieces in a wide range of styles from Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, to Contemporary Pop and Nuevo Latino.

miki-berenyiAt the age of 14, Berenyi met her friend and future bandmate, Emma Anderson. They became interested in music and together wrote the music fanzine Alphabet Soup (which only lasted for five issues).Berenyi first played bass with the band, The Bugs,and later went on to play with Lillies.

In 1988, Berenyi studied English literature at the North London Polytechnic, where she met drummer Christopher Acland, bassist Steve Rippon, and singer Meriel Barham. Along with Anderson, they decided to form their own band.

When Meriel Barham left, the remaining members of Lush placed ads in local papers looking for Barham’s replacement, but they couldn’t find the singer they wanted, and Berenyi took over the vocals.
From 1988 until 1996, she played with Lush, releasing several albums, singles and videos, and toured extensively through the UK, North America, Japan, Australia and other countries.

JenniferbattenThe buzz on Jennifer Batten rose from the guitar underground, and the guitar magazines promptly began chronicling her savvy musicianship and highly original approach to the electric guitar in print.

At one point Batten was in 6 different bands, playing everything from straight ahead rock, to metal,fusion, and funk. A major turning point came when she was selected from over one hundred guitarists to play in Michael Jackson’s highly skilled band which toured the world for one and a half years playing for over four and a half million people.

Jennifer wasted no time after the” Bad” Tour’s grand finale, diving into work on her own album with renown producer (and Stevie Wonder guitarist) Michael Sembello. The stunning results can be heard on “Above, Below, and Beyond”, the title appropriately describing the interesting diversity within. With this debut release, the world at large learned what all the excitement was about.

Shortly after the record’s release in the spring of ’92, she was asked again to join Michael Jackson for his upcoming “Dangerous Tour”.  In January ’93, she joined Jackson to partake in Superbowl XXVII’s half time entertainment which aired to one and half billion people in 80 nations. It was the largest audience in television history.