Wanda Wiłkomirska (1929-2018) was a Polish violinist and teacher. She is best known for
her performances of 20th century music and for promoting Polish
music outside national borders.
studied music in Warsaw and Budapest and started winning international prizes
as a teenager. From 1999 onwards, she taught at the Sydney Conservatorium of
Music and also worked for the Australian National Academy of Music.
Dena Epstein (1916-2013) was a librarian and
musicologist, working mostly around Illinois. She undertook important research
in the origins of American slave music.
After studying music and library science in
Chicago, she became the Senior Music Librarian at Newark Public Library. She
served as the President of the Music Library Association and published several
books on her research into black musical history. One of her most important
findings was that the banjo originated as an instrument from African slave tradition,
not from rural white communities, as previously thought.
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) was a singer known as ‘The Queen of Gospel’, being one
of the most influential artists in the genre. She was also active in the civil
rights movement in the United States.
Her career spanned more than four decades,
during which time she recorded around 30 albums, 12 of which were certified
gold. She often sang before Martin Luther King’s speeches and helped raise
funds for the movement. In 1972 she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement
Pink (b. 1979) is one of the best-selling music
artists of all time. She has had numerous number-one hits during a career of
more than three decades, and has won three Grammys and seven VMAs for her work.
Her debut single, “There You Go”, was released in 2000 and
immediately made the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100. Critics and fans have called her ‘the most
trailblazing artist of the pop generation’. She is a vocal animal rights
activist, as well as a campaigner for human rights and LGBT rights.
Helen Creighton (1899-1989) was a Canadian
folklorist. Over a career that lasted several decades, she collected over 4000
stories, songs and other cultural traditions from all over the country.
She studied in Halifax, and later became the dean of women
at the University of King’s College in the city. She received three Rockefeller
Foundation fellowships to help her collect traditional songs of Canada,
including the popular “Farewell to Nova Scotia”. She was made a Member of the
Order of Canada in 1976.
Janet Baker (b.
1933) is an English mezzo-soprano. She is best known for her portrayal of the
tragic heroine Dido in Berlioz’s Les Troyens.
She made her debut in 1956 with the Oxford
University Opera Club. For her outstanding career in opera, spanning three
decades, she was made a member of the Order of the British Empire and received
numerous awards, such as the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Redžepova (1943-2016) was
a Macedonian singer, known as Queen of the Gypsies for her promotion of
Roma music and culture. Her career lasted over five decades and helped
popularise traditional Roma songs.
She began her
musical career after singing a song in Romani on public radio at the age of 13,
the first time such a song was aired in the country. She later founded a school
where disadvantaged boys were trained in music, and was an honorary president
of the Macedonian Red Cross for her work with Romani refugees in Kosovo.
Peggy Jones (1940-2015),
also known as Lady Bo, was a musician, considered a pioneer of rock and roll.
She was sometimes called the Queen Mother of Guitar.
She played rhythm guitar in Bo Diddley’s band
in the 1950s and 60s, becoming one of the very few female guitarists visible in
the world of rock and roll. Her independent project, the band the Jewels, was a
top R&B band on the east coast scene.
Gabriela Montero (b. 1970) is a Venezuelan pianist. She is best known for her skilful improvisations on complex musical
She began playing from a very young age and
gave her first public performance at the age of five. At the age of nine, she
was awarded a government scholarship to study in the USA, and later attended
the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2009, she played at the inauguration
of President Barack Obama.