For generations, producers in the music industry have been predominantly male. While that is still largely true, things are changing. With each generation, more and more women are getting involved in music production. Learn about a number of successful female producers, including both legends who blazed a trail and new names on the rise. The women featured here are sought after full-time producers known for producing major projects for artists other than themselves.
Linda Perry made her first major entrance into the music industry as the lead singer for the '90s hit group 4 Non Blondes. Her massively successful hit single "What's Up?" was heard everywhere for years in the '90s. But in the years that followed she would become a successful producer.
She is known for producing and composing a number of hit albums and songs including Christina Aguilera's Beautiful, Pink's hit album Missundazstood (with writing credit for Get The Party Started) and What You Waiting For? by Gwen Stefani. She has also worked with artists such as Jewel, Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, and many others.
In this video she discusses the odd story of how she met Pink.
Sylvia Massy is one of the most fascinating and successful producers in music history of any gender. Her approach is so groundbreaking and brilliant that she is credited for invented a new style of production called Adventure Recording.
She got her start in the eighties producing in the underground scene in San Francisco. She then moved to Los Angeles and made a major breakthrough when she produced the double-platinum selling album Undertow by Tool, one of the biggest bands of the '90s.
From there she would go on to mix and produce many albums and singles for major artists including:
- Johnny Cash (Unchained - album)
- Tom Petty (She's The One - album)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers (Love Rollercoaster - album)
- System of a Down (self-titled debut album)
- Dishwalla (Juniper Road - album)
Sylvia Robinson is known as the mother of hip-hop. She produced the group Sugar Hill Gang and their hit song Rapper's Delight, which would sell more than eight million copies and become rap music's first mainstream hit. She also produced White Lines (Don't Do It) by Melle Mel and The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Before her career as a producer she was a successful R&B singer. She passed away in 2011.
In the world of Jamaican music, Sonia Pottinger is considered a queen. Pottinger was known for her passionate religious belief and for channeling that spiritual interest into her creativity and music projects. She passed away in 2010, but she left behind producing credits that are held in high esteem by reggae fans.
During the '60s and '70s she produced important reggae groups such as:
- Culture (their landmark album Harder Than The Rest)
- Joe White and Chuck
- The Ethiopians
- Delano Stewart
- The Melodians
- Alton Ellis
- Toots & the Maytals
Lauryn Hill first became known for her commercially and critically acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in the late '90s. Besides continuing her recording career, she became an acclaimed producer with some stunning credits including:
- Aretha Franklin (A Rose Is A Rose)
- Mary J. Blige (Mary)
- Santana (Supernatural)
- The Notorious B.I.G. (Born Again)
- CeCe Winans (Everlasting Love)
She has also worked with artists such as Whitney Houston, Common, Fugees, and Wyvlef Jean, to name a few.
WondaGurl got her start at age eight when she acquired a Casio keyboard. She then won a beats competition in 2012 at age 15 in Toronto. At only 16 years of age, she produced beats for major artist Travi$ Scott in 2013. She was still in high school. Since then she has scored multiple big name credits including:
- Jay-Z (Crown)
- Big Sean
Many More to Come
As music publications have noted, female producers are becoming more common. All signs indicate that the famous women highlighted here are just the beginning for women in music production. These accomplished producers have inspired other women with their infectious passion for music, and this will likely lead to an even larger wave of female music producers in the years to come.