Feminism has always been a complex and controversial topic, as female rock musicians know especially well. When they’ve stayed true to their own vision, these artists have alternately been adored as role models or denounced as bad influences. Either way, they’re asked to cope with certain pressures that their male counterparts haven’t faced. With each successive feminism movement since the 1960s, women in rock have been prominent proponents of progress as they’ve increasingly taken control of their own music, message, and image. This, in its way, is just as revolutionary as any protest demonstration.
In She’s a Badass, music journalist Katherine Yeske Taylor interviews twenty significant women in rock, devoting an entire chapter to each one, taking an in-depth look at the incredible talent, determination—and, often, humor—they needed to succeed in their careers (and life). Interviewees range from legendary artists through notable up-and-comers, including Ann Wilson (Heart), Gina Schock (The Go-Go’s), Suzanne Vega, Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Orianthi, Amanda Palmer, and more. Their experiences reveal the varied and unique challenges these women have faced, how they overcame them, and what they think still needs to be done to continue making progress on the equality front. Their stories prove that promoting feminism—either through activism or by living example—is undeniably badass.
The women interviewed for the 20 chapters are: Suzi Quatro, Ann Wilson (Heart), Exene Cervenka (X), Gina Schock (the Go-Go's), Lydia Lunch, Suzanne Vega, Cherie Currie (the Runaways), Joan Osborne, Donita Sparks (L7), Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, the Breeders, Belly), Paula Cole, Tobi Vail (Bikini Kill), Laura Veirs, Catherine Popper, Amanda Palmer, Bonnie Bloomgarden (Death Valley Girls), Orianthi, Fefe Dobson, and Sade Sanchez (L.A. Witch).
Katherine Yeske Taylor began her career as a rock critic in Atlanta in the 1990s, interviewing Georgia musical royalty such as the Indigo Girls, R.E.M., and the Black Crowes while still a teenager. Since then, she has conducted several hundred interviews and contributes regularly to Billboard, Spin, and American Songwriter, among others. She is a longtime New York City resident and is extremely active in the downtown rock scene.
"This book’s fierce attitude and biographies that pitch towards the positive will have plenty of appeal for readers seeking some inspiration from women who’ve carved out a place in rock music."
"Documents the gender-based challenges each woman has faced in their career, as well as their determination and perseverance. Their stories run the gamut from shocking to humorous to enlightening."
I'm not any era. I broke barriers in the '60s and I still break barriers. She's a Badass celebrates women in rock and their influence on gender equality. It's a must-read. There is still a lot of work to be done.
I found myself fascinated by the stories and experiences shared in this book. Even the women I know surprised me.
By capturing the spirit and soul of six decades' worth of female rockers, Katherine Yeske Taylor demonstrates that she's as much of a badass as any of her subjects. This is a book that needed to be written, and she rose to the occasion like few others could.
These women's stories are thought-provoking and utterly fascinating - they are indeed badasses.
She’s a Badass is a book about badass women written by a fellow badass woman. It’s a riveting and inspiring read and I can’t put it down. In fact, I typed this with just one pinky so I wouldn’t lose my page.
"The first time I ever worked with a woman in the music industry was in 1990 when I collaborated with Anne Dudley on Songs from the Victorious City. Until that point in my career I had never really considered how profound the struggle was for a woman in a patriarchal industry (having been in an all-male environment since the inception of Killing Joke). From the metaphorical airbrushing and stereotyping to the brutal chauvinism encountered by so many women artists, She’s a Badass documents the experiences of these influential and brave pioneers."—Dr. Jaz Coleman, vocals/songwriter: Killing Joke, composer and producer
She’s a Badass recounts the sometimes harrowing tales of how icons such as Heart’s Ann Wilson, The Runaways’ Cherie Currie, and Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray navigated uncharted waters for women in the industry while they made their music their own way. Although the artists who share their deeply personal stories with Katherine Yeske Taylor range from purveyors of alternative rock to punk-pop, their tales of struggle, perseverance, and triumph are universal. Their collective voices demand a reckoning for how females have been treated, acknowledge the personal growth sparked by their difficult journeys, and offer the refreshing perspective that declaring men the enemy isn’t the solution to achieving equality.
She’s a Badass is a virtual handbook for women, especially those coming up in the music world. As the son of a strong mother and fierce female role model, and a teacher of countless female students, I believe that Katherine’s book is a perfect blend of inspiration and motivation.
Badass and kick-ass, these music makers—icons and up 'n' comers, avant-garde genre-breakers and hitmakers—open up to author Katherine Yeske Taylor. In sharing their compelling stories and struggles and addressing sexism and feminism, the thru-line of integrity and a ‘nevertheless she persisted’ disposition shines brightly.
In She's a Badass, Kat Taylor gets twenty of the biggest female trailblazers in rock—from Suzi Quatro and Ann Wilson to Orianthi and Amanda Palmer—to spill their guts on what it's really like to have to fight for every scrap of respect as a woman in music, while dodging gropers and setting sexist managers, agents, band members, and labels straight. Nobody got these stories before—because nobody asked for them. Now Taylor has, and the result is a significant contribution to music journalism that is also a wildly entertaining read.
She's a Badass is the book we need. It is incisive and detailed while providing great access and context to some of the greatest rockers in history. It's a must-read for any aspiring journalist . . . and rocker out there.
My experience in this world as a woman has never let me down because of people like Katherine Taylor. The intelligence and bravery to write a book of this magnitude of women whose voices are loud and pure is empowering.
She's a Badass takes you on an insightful journey into the hearts and minds of these wonderful women and how powerful and important they are, and deep in the DNA of rock and roll.