By: A’Breya Young
Oh, how I wish to live in the era of style and vibrancy. From the classic shows like Friends to Brandy’s iconic braids, there is no denying that any decade was better than, yes, you guessed it! The ‘90s. Such a period vividly reminds me of the pivotal moment for female artists in the entertainment industry. The way these great female influencers made a lasting impression by creating a new authentic style of music, the 2000s babies like me can feel the nostalgic spirit of the ‘90s. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, let’s enter the spotlight and celebrate the ladies who sparked a rallying cry of “Girl Power” in music.
Lauren Hill is an American producer, rapper, and singer-songwriter. Her bold personality and unique stage presence shaped her into a great artist that millions adored. After achieving great success as a member of the hip-hop group called The Fugees, Hill proceeded to become a solo artist, where she later introduced a modernized style of music. Lauryn’s distinct sound in her music incorporated a mix of hip-hop and R&B. The debut of her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, features the story behind how Hill’s setbacks influenced her to break out of her shell, and gain a sense of independence. Lauryn making herself valuable in creating such a memorable album caused listeners to snatch her CDs off store shelves. In 1998, Lauryn stole the night after winning 5 Grammys as a solo artist. Today, her songs such as Doo Wop (That Thing) still pleases listeners around the world.
Oh baby, how was she supposed to know that her music would always have a place in teenagers’ hearts? In the late 1990s, Britney’s career instantly shot off like a rocket. Her songs not only sparked the public’s attention, but her style of wearing crop tops created a new image. As Spears released more music, she attracted a female-dominated audience. Since she was always known to show a little skin, Britney later became a controversial figure, with people debating whether her wardrobe was appropriate for her teenage listeners. That issue didn’t stop this singer, however. In October of 1998, at the age of sixteen, Britney Spears released one of her first hit songs called Hit Me Baby, One More Time. This single notably stayed on the hit 100 for thirty-two weeks. Spears’ music and fashion that sparked controversial debates influences the work and style of current celebrities. I guess you can say, “Oops, she did it again.”
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a Mexican-American artist and lead singer of her family band called Selena y Los Dinos. Early on, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish until her father decided to teach her so she could resonate and connect with the Hispanic community. As she phonetically practiced how to sing in a different language, she became a fluent Spanish speaker. At the age of twelve, Quintanilla-Pérez released her album named Mis Primeras Grabaciones, and just a few years later, in 1989, she was signed to EMI Records. Selena quickly rose to fame when her song Alvaro Torres became a hit. Although Selena was most popular in Mexico, she began to draw large crowds in the United States, close to her death. In 1994, her album Amor Prohibido sold more than one million copies. After years of waiting, in 1995, Selena began recording her English crossover album. Unfortunately, on March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by her fan club president. With millions mourning her death, she gained more public attention. Just four months after her death, her family and production team decided to release her unfinished album called Dreaming of You. Still, twenty-five years after the tragic death of the “Queen of Tejano,” people continue to remember the legacy Selena left behind.
Miss Janet Jackson, the Queen of R&B herself, ruled the ‘90s. This fierce woman was more than just Michael Jackson’s little sister; however, stepping from the King of Pop’s shadow just adds to her spectacular achievements in the music industry. In 1976, alongside the Jackson family, Janet first took the stage. This particular performance caught the attention of a producer who landed her a role on the show Good Times as Penny. After years of working to pursue her acting career, Janet made her way back to the music with the release of her 1982 album, Janet Jackson. Her debut album sat at No.6 on the Billboard R&B album charts and sold about 250,000 copies. With Michael gaining much notoriety from his Thriller album, the Queen of R&B’s victory was short-lived. Critics then began to belittle Janet and push her under Michael’s shadow, but she took this opportunity to listen to the beat of confidence. With releasing her 1986 album, Control, Janet’s music shattered records and earned her three Grammy nominations. If you sit and listen to those lyrics of the songs of the album, you can definitely tell that Miss. Jackson succeeded in slapping failure in the face and taking control over her life. In 1997, Janet’s natural musicality and lyricism played a significant role in The Velvet Rope album. The songs featured in this album attracted all the buzz since she revealed the story about her long-range loss. Her music not only made people shimmy to the dance floor but reflect on how to embrace your pain to succeed. Janet Jackson’s confidence and openness to the public undeniably changed the face of music in the ‘90s, and she continues to do that today.
Do these women even need an introduction? From Houston, Texas, we have Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett, otherwise known as Destiny’s child. The start of the group’s iconic career began in 1992 when Knowles, Rowland, and Roberson performed as Girls Tyme on the talent show Star Search. Even when falling short in the competition, these childhood friends demonstrated what it means to fall seven times and get up eight. After LeToya Luckett’s entered the group in 1993, Destiny’s Child proceeded to sing their hearts out until the release of their 1997 album, Killing Time, launching mainstream recognition. Later in early 1998, Destiny’s Child rose to No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart with the song No, No, No, Pt.2. The hits kept coming as the group dropped Bills, Bills, Bills, and Say My Name. Destiny’s Child’s music captured the powerful essence of womanhood, which empowered females. Songs such as Independent Women touched female audiences and influenced them to know their worth. So, to all the women who are independent, throw your hands up at me!