These are the female artists making 2017 their own – meaning if they’re not already on your radar (or their songs on your playlist), they should be...
RAY BLK NANCY ANDERSEN OF BABEHEAVEN
There’s an almost magical quality to Nancy Andersen’s voice that gives you the impression she could sing about anything and make it sound good. As the frontwoman of the otherwise all-male British five-piece Babeheaven – born of her friendship with guitarist Jamie Travis – that “anything” often includes heartbreak in its many forms, set to the band’s soulful, ethereal sound. The group don’t yet have plans to visit Australia, so it’s a good thing listening to their music on repeat is such a joy.
Nigerian-born singer and rapper Rita Ekwere, better known as Ray BLK, has skill and social consciousness in equal parts (BLK stands for Building, Living, Knowing). Whether rapping about sexism and sexuality in “Doing Me”, socio-economic class in “My Hood” or weed-fuelled booty calls in “Chill Out”, she’s ensured her songs are an anthem of sorts for women, racial minorities and youth right now – which led to her picking up the BBC Sound Of 2017 award (while she was still unsigned, no less). She’s in the midst of a European tour, and we’ve heard she’s got her sights on our shores in the near future.
Sydney-based Joannah Jackson may share her alias with Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend and sidekick, but it’s fast becoming apparent she’s got leadinglady potential. With Françoise Hardy-esque looks and a sound tinged with psychedelia, the 24-yearold is without the naivety her age would suggest – her strain of whimsy is rooted firmly in reality. Keep an ear out for her self-titled EP, to be released September 15, as she embarks on her first headline tour around the country.
When Holly Rankin isn’t busy creating synthy, psych-folk sounds as Jack River, she’s championing fellow Australian talent – the singer is behind the all-female collective Electric Lady, which has manifested in music showcases starring Bec Sandridge, Ali Barter, Alex Lahey, Gretta Ray and others, and helped organise Grow Your Own, a grassroots festival held on the NSW north coast last year that was headlined by Dope Lemon (Angus Stone’s solo project). Fans of her EP, Highway Songs No.2, will be glad to know she’s still found time to work on a debut album, which is expected early next year.
If you’re not familiar with Rainsford’s sound, you’ll likely know the face behind it: that of model and actress Rainey Qualley. Her famous lineage (her mother is Andie Macdowell) is just a jumping-off point – she’s landed a spot on Mad Men and in a handful of indie films, and is a front-row fixture for the likes of Chanel, Miu Miu and Dior. A departure from the country-tinged tunes she put out a few years ago under her own name, her new incarnation is sultry, a little bit ’90s R’N’B and definitely one to watch.
Formed before its members were even 12, The Aces could have gone the way of many a childhood “band” – and the Best Friend necklaces that went with them. But the group – made up of sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez along with Katie Henderson and Mckenna Petty – started booking shows at all-ages venues not long after forming. Eschewing college to continue the band has paid off – they signed to Red Bull Records last year and have an EP, I Don’t Like Being Honest, under their belt with a debut album on the way.
ANNA LOTTERUD OF ANNA OF THE NORTH
Anna Lotterud is the Norwegian half of Anna Of The North (the other being New Zealander Brady Daniell-smith), formed after the pair met at a gig Daniellsmith was playing in Melbourne. Their slow-burning electropop has been winning fans for a while now, including Tyler, The Creator, who invited Lotterud to feature on his track “911/Mr Lonely”, alongside Frank Ocean. They drop their debut album, Lovers, on September 8 (the first single from which clocked up almost 700,000 streams on Spotify in its first week).
After doing the summer festival circuit and supporting The Rubens, Sandridge spent the first half of the year on her own headline tour (and belting out a cover of Farnesy’s “You’re The Voice” for Triple J’s Like A Version). She’s now working on her debut album, set to be full of the slick and gritty pop she’s best known for. You can catch her at the Yours And Owls festival in Wollongong, NSW, this month.