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VH1 Marks Women’s Impact

Liz Phair, Aiming to Please as Her Popularity Grows

CK’s Non-Model Liz Phair Plays at Klein-Sponsored N.Y. Benefit

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In celebration of women’s contributions to popular music, VHI will present “The 100 Greatest Women Of Rock ‘N’ Roll” July 26-Aug. 1.

By Carla May
Billboard, May 29, 1999

NEW YORK – In celebration of women’s contributions to popular music, VHI will present “The 100 Greatest Women Of Rock ‘N’ Roll” July 26-Aug. 1.

The special is a countdown based on results of a survey conducted by VH1. According to the network, those who voted were female entertainers, writers, photographers, industry executives, and politicians.

VH1 had a similar countdown last year with “The 100 Greatest Artists Of Rock ‘N’ Roll”, as voted on by artists whose music is played on VH1 (Billboard, March 21, 1998).

VH1 won’t reveal where the artists are ranked on the “100 Greatest Women Of Rock ‘N’ Roll” survey until the special is televised, but Billboard has learned that Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin were ranked among the top three on the list. (For an alphabetical rundown of the top 20, see page 94.)

The list represents a diverse array of artists, ranging from veterans (Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Madonna, Tina Turner) to such newer artists as Alanis Morissette, Erykah Badu, and Sheryl Crow. Various genres of contemporary music are represented, including R&B (Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle); jazz (Billie Holliday, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughn); country (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline); hip-hop (Queen Latifah, Salt ‘N Pepa); and the blues (Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, Big Mama Thornton).

One artist who made the list was Sarah McLachlan. McLachlan, the founder of the female-oriented Lilith Fair festival tour, says, “The success of Lilith Fair was spawned by a number of female singer/songwriters who were very successful on their own. Putting these people together gave us a certain strength.”

Liz Phair, also on the list, agrees that the Lilith Fair (which has been co-sponsored by VH1 and on which Phair has been a performer) has had a huge impact for female artists.

She says, “I think there’s a lot more diversity in female artists than there was 10 years ago. What’s changed since, say, the days when Joni Mitchell first started, is that I think people are more interested in women as songwriters. Female performers are being taken more seriously.”

Phair, who calls herself a “fierce feminist”, adds, “I think my first album [1993’s Exile In Guyville] hit at the right time [Music To My EarsBillboard, May 8, 1993]. I’ve always been marginal, but it’s heartening that people can relate to my music.”

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