Book of the Month
Good Girls, Bad Girls: The Rise & Fall of Women in Music
By James L. Dickerson
The First Comprehensive History of Women in Popular Music (1920s to present)
"With all the industry buzz about the hard times female artists are facing, a new book chronicling the history of women's contributions to music is about to hit the shelves."—Country Weekly
In 1997, impressed by the gains that women had made in music the previous year, the author gathered all the sales charts for 1996 and did the math, determining that women had out-sold men on the Top 20 album charts for the first time in history. He contributed an article on the subject to Glamour magazine and wrote a book about his findings titled Women on Top (Billboard Books).
To his disappointment, that dominance was short-lived and today women are back in the basement of the music business, despite realizing enormous gains in executive positions in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles. Today, there are seemingly more women than men in executive positions, but sadly women executives have not used their power to help female recording artists.
"It is impossible to imagine music without women, yet their struggle for respect and financial independence remains an ongoing struggle," says the author, whose now defunct 1980s magazine, Nine-O-One Network, was the first music publication to publish stories about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. "The deeper you look into the problem, the more you realize that women in music often are their own worst enemy."
Good Girls, Bad Girls provides a 100-year history of women in music, beginning with Lil Hardin Armstrong and Billie Holliday, and continuing up to present-day artists such as Shakira, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Miley Cyrus.
The author presents an analysis of the rise of women in music—and their subsequent fall—based on author interviews with a diverse assortment of women stars, ranging from Shania Twain, Pat Benatar, Brenda Lee, Bonnie Raitt, Tiffany, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, Tammy Wynette, June Carter Cash, and Tanya Tucker. Influential women pioneers such as the late Frances Preston of BMI and Stax Records co-founder Estelle Axton were also interviewed by the author.
Among the causes explored by the book of the hard times being experienced by female recording artists are the reluctance of female music executives to sign women to recording contracts, the prevalence of music piracy, downloading and streaming on the Internet, and the changing demographics of individuals who purchase albums and download individual songs.
About the Author
James L. Dickerson is a bestselling author and journalist. A leading authority on the music created in the South, he is the author of Memphis Going Down, Just for a Thrill: Lil Hardin Armstrong, First Lady of Jazz, Faith Hill: The Long Road Back, Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley's Eccentric Manager, The Fabulous Vaughan Brothers, Jimmie & Stevie Ray, and Scotty & Elvis: Aboard the Mystery Train (with Scotty Moore), and Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll.