Female Blues Guitarists You Need To Listen To (right now!)

Female Blues Guitarists You Need To Listen To (right now!)

There are many people living under the misconception that only men can play blues guitar. It’s not their fault, for some reason the music industry seems to hide women blues guitarists, but with the advent of the internet that’s all changed. Now with just a quick click you can have access to some of the best and most underrated female blues guitarists.

Way back in the early parts of the twentieth century there were quite a few women guitarists playing the blues on guitar. Then pop became the genre that many women felt was the best place to express themselves. And don’t forget the cliched acoustic female folk guitarists that have a message.

But now let us introduce you to some of the best female blues guitarists from the early days of recording artists and right up to date. Some you might already be aware of in which case let us reacquaint you with them. Whether you’ve heard them before or not, if you’re into blues guitar, then you’re in for a treat.

Ana Popovic

Serbian born Ana is a blues singer and guitarist who now lives in the US. In the 1990s she formed a band called Hush, a R&B band that incorporated some funk and soul into their music. Then in 1999 Ana formed the Ana Popovic band; a year later she performed a cover of Belly Button Window on the Jimi Hendrix tribute album Blue Haze. Other artists on the same album include;

  • Buddy Miles
  • Eric Burdon
  • Double Trouble
  • Taj Mahal
  • Eric Gales
  • And many others

In 2011 she was the winner of the best Blues DVD at the Blues Matters Awards in the UK, and has been nominated for many more awards before and after that date. Ana plays the blues guitar and makes it look easy.

Joanne Shaw Taylor

At the age of 16 Joanne was discovered by Dave Stewart (The Eurythmics). He recognised her raw blues talent and the magazine Blues Matters called her “the new face of the blues”. This British born blues singer and guitarist was inspired by listening to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan. She can certainly play the blues as the clip above shows only too clearly.

Samantha Fish

Samantha is an American singer/songwriter and guitarist who excels at playing the blues, but that’s not her only genre of music. She is an all round entertainer and her live shows incorporate Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Funk and Rock. Her first instrument was the drums, but at 15 she switched to the guitar. Samantha’s early influences include Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt.

She says that the Stones album Sticky Fingers was an influential moment in her life. She was often found at the Knuckleheads Saloon listening to touring blues performers and once she reached 18 she would join them on stage. She has won many awards including Best Blues Performer, Best Female Vocalist, Best Independent Female Blues Artist and many more.

Shannon Curfman

Shannon released her first album Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions at the age of 14. Shannon has been a member of Kid Rock’s band Twisted Brown Truckers for the last 10 years, and she has toured with the likes of;

  • Buddy Guy
  • ZZ Top
  • John Mellencamp
  • Carlos Santana
  • Jeff Beck
  • Page/Plant
  • The Indigo Girls 
  • Bob Seger
  • John Mayall
  • Joe Bonamassa
  • And many more

Rolling Stone magazine said of Shannon “Scorching blues guitar and gritty female vocals from a wunderkind who sounds like the younger sister of Jonny Lang. But Lang would probably feel a little heat from the competition — Curfman was only thirteen when she recorded her debut, yet her singing and playing have the soul of someone many years her senior…. Curfman speaks eloquently through her guitar. She’s got a crazy skill for melody and an ability to extract real meaning …and with the help of a top-shelf band, she turns in an introductory statement that makes you want to hear more. Her instrumental mastery is undeniable”. ~ Rolling Stone

Susan Tedeschi

Susan is an American guitarist and singer who regularly performs along with her husband Derek Trucks as a member of the Derek Trucks Band. Her early influences include Mississippi John Hurt, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny “guitar” Watson and Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Susan has opened for artists such as;

  • John Mellencamp
  • Bob Dylan
  • BB King
  • Buddy Guy
  • Taj Mahal
  • The Allman Brothers 
  • And many more

In 2010 the couple formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band since forming they have won numerous blues awards and Susan was awarded Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year in 2017.

Deborah Coleman

Deborah was an American blues guitarist and singer who won the 2001 Orville Gibson award for Best Blues Female Guitarist. Deborah came from a musical family, her father was a pianist, she had two brothers that played guitar and a sister who played guitar and keyboard. Over her lifetime Deborah released around 9 blues albums; she sadly died in 2018 from complications due to bronchitis and pneumonia.

Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn is an accomplished musician, she plays guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, piano and trumpet. She released a CD in 2008 entitled Miss Understood and the title track has been in the top 50 roots music report ever since. She has many awards including best blues band, best female vocalist, best blues songwriter of the year and many more.

Orianthi

Orianthi Penny Panagaris is an Australian singer/songwriter and musician. She started learning piano at the age of 3, when she was 6 she took up acoustic guitar and at the age of 11 she started playing the electric guitar.  Orianthi has been writing songs since she was 15 and has performed with some music legends including;

  • Michael Jackson
  • Alice Cooper
  • Steve Vai
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Richie Sambora
  • To name but a few

She has won numerous awards including the Gibson Guitars top female guitar players of all time in 2011.

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Lynn Raitt is an American singer/songwriter and guitarist who has received 10 Grammy Awards. Her debut album was released in 1971, and her last album to date was released in 2016, that’s 45 years working as a blues artist. Bonnie was the first female musician to receive a Fender signature guitar (1996).

Precious Bryant

Precious Bryant was an American singer and guitarist, she performed the blues, gospel, folk and country blues. She released 3 solo albums, and her song Morning Train was used on the soundtrack of the film Black Snake Moan.

Memphis Minnie

Lizzie Douglas known as Memphis Minnie was a blues singer/songwriter and guitarist who recorded over 200 songs during her more than 30 year career. Big Bill Broonzy said that she could “pick a guitar and sing as good as any man I’ve ever heard.”

Etta Baker

 American Piedmont Blues guitarist and singer, Etta Baker was taught to play guitar by her father, she started learning guitar at the age of 3. She won many awards including the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1989.

Debbie Davies

This American blues guitarist from Los Angeles California, has played in some amazing blues bands. But is best known for her work with Albert Collins playing in his band The Icebreakers during the late 80s and early 90s. In 1997 she won the W.C. Handy award for best contemporary female artist and the 2010 blues music award for best traditional female artist.

Rory Block 

Aurora “Rory” Block is an American blues guitarist and singer who has been following blues music since the age of 15. She has won 6 blues music awards, two for traditional blues female artists, three for acoustic blues album of the year and one for the acoustic artist of the year.

Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Cecelia Foster is an American singer/songwriter and guitarist specialising in the blues, gospel, jazz, folk and soul. Ruthie has won many awards including best blues album and best female blues artist.

Elizabeth Cotten

A self taught left-handed guitarist from North Carolina USA, Libba Cotten developed the style of fingerpicking still used to this day and called Cotten Picking. She played the guitar strung for right-handed players which never hindered her style at all.

Joanna Connor

Joanna is an American blues singer/songwriter and guitarist who has played with some of the all time great blues artists including;

  • Junior Wells
  • Buddy Guy
  • James Cotton
  • A C Reed
  • And many more

Her album 4801 South Indiana was produced by Joe Bonnamassa and he also performed on it too.

Toshi Reagon

This American musician plays blues, funk, gospel, rock and folk. She first performed on stage at the age of 17 opening for Lenny Kravitz. She won the 2007 black lily award for outstanding performance.

Kelly Richey

Kelly is an American blues singer/songwriter originally from Lexington Kentucky but now lives in Cincinnati Ohio. Her main influences were Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roy Buchanan and Lonnie Mack. 

Sue Foley

This blues guitarist and singer from Ottawa Canada has released 15 albums and got into the blues by listening to records by the Rolling Stones. Her 2018 album Ice Queen featured Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Jimmie Vaughan.

Laura Chavez

Laura Catherine Chavez is an American songwriter and blues guitarist from Mountain View, California. Her influences include; Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, which are both evident in her work.

Algia Mae Hinton

Algia was an American blues singer and guitarist who received a North Carolina folk heritage award in 1992. She played Piedmont blues, gospel and folk music.

Jessie Mae Hemphill

Jessie Mae Hemphill was an American songwriter, singer and guitarist who specialised in North Mississippi hill country blues. She started playing guitar at the age of 7 as well as playing the drums. If it wasn’t for this lady’s pioneering blues playing, there wouldn’t be many, if any female blues artists. In 1988 she received the W. C. Handy Award for best traditional female blues artist.

Olga Wilhelmine Munding

Taught and coached by Jessie Mae Hemphill, Olga is an accomplished blues guitarist and singer. They recorded many songs together and featured in Martin Scorcese’s The Blues. She is the founder and president of the Jessie Mae Hemphill Foundation which pays tribute to and honours such an influential and accomplished blues artist.

Beverly Watkins

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was an American blues guitarist who originally played bass guitar. In the late 50s she joined Piano Red and the Meter-Tones (later the Houserockers). They had two successful singles – Dr. Feelgood, and Right String but the Wrong Yoyo. Beverly played with the Ink Spots, James Brown, Ray Charles and BB King. 

Jackie Venson

Born in Austin Texas, Jackie’s influences include; Sade, Alicia Keys, Buddy Guy and Amy Winehouse. During the recent lockdowns, she livestreamed her music which resulted in her being ranked number 10 on Pollstar’s Top Music Live Streamers 2020.

Danielle Nicole

OK, Danielle Nicole is a bassist, but that’s still a guitar and she is definitely a blues guitarist. Danielle received Blues Music Awards for both Contemporary Blues Female Artist and Bass Instrumentalist in 2019. 

Larkin Poe

Sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell are Larkin Poe. Often nicknamed the little sisters of the Allman Brothers, not strictly blues artists as they play many genres of music including blues. But when they do the blues, they do the blues.

Dani Wilde

This British Blues singer/songwriter and guitarist who also plays gospel, country, soul, and Americana. She has reached number one 3 times in the official European I-Tunes Blues Charts.

Fiona Boyes

Fiona Boyles is an Australian Blues musician and has been recording for more than 25 years. She won the 2003 solo/duo category at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee.

Gaye Adegbalola

Gaye Adegbalola is an American Blues singer and guitarist/songwriter  and teacher. Gaye won the prestigious Blues Music Award and the song of the year – W.C Handy award in 1990.

Valerie June

Valerie June Hockett is an American singer/songwriter ukulele, banjo and guitar player. She covers many genres, one of which is the blues. She specialises in what she calls “Organic Moonshine Roots Music” which is a fusion of gospel, blues and Appalachian folk music. 

Over To You

That’s Our list of female blues guitarists you Need To Listen To (right now!) How did we do? Did we miss anyone out? Do you have any female blues guitarists we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

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